46-31 / 46-33 / 46-35 Vernon Boulevard
Long Island City, NY 11101
(718) 937-1312 | Map
At long last, Manducatis Rustica has opened on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City! I had been walking past this lovely restaurant in its early stages for the majority of the summer, stopping every now and then to peer in the windows decorated with wrought-iron pieces to see how it was coming along. And when I heard that it would be serving authentic Italian gelato, I found myself growing impatient for the opening. Thankfully, the wait is over!
Last Friday, I had the opportunity to eat lunch at Manducatis Rustica with two of my coworkers, Aaron and Spiros. When we arrived, we were greeted and seated by a charming woman named Annie. She explained that the menu, which was a little hard to read given the font used and the dim lights, wasn't too extensive at the moment since the restaurant just opened but told us about some options that weren't listed on the menu, including a fettucine dish featuring tomatoes, garlic, white zucchini, and arugula. You can't beat a recommendation like that, so we decided to split the fettucine "special" along with a Margherita Pizza ($14) and a Gustosa (literally, "tasty") Pizza with Italian sausage, broccoli rabe, and garlic ($15). (Note: The Gustosa Pizza is a white pizza.)
While we were waiting for our food to arrive, we spent some time observing our surroundings. The restaurant is divided into two main rooms, one decorated more formally with larger tables and linen tablecloths and one decorated more casually with smaller tables and no tablecloths. (We were seated on the casual side.) I loved everything about the homey atmosphere, from the rosey pink paint on the walls to the upright piano at the back of the restaurant. Before we knew it, our food was ready and we were diving into our lunch.
If you're a fan of a thinner-crusted pizza, then you must try the pizza at Manducatis. Gianna Cerbone, the owner and executive chef, knows what she's doing in the kitchen! When she got word that I was a food blogger (thank you, Aaron, for revealing my identity!), she came out of the kitchen and talked to us about her cooking philosophy (simple methods with quality ingredients) and about her passion for food. She expressed satisfaction knowing that we were people who actually liked talking about the food we were eating. As we were digging into our food, Gianna brought over a bottle of their olive oil to drizzle on top of our pizza, and it really did bring all the flavors together nicely. I was so busy enjoying the pizza that I nearly forgot to have some of the fettucine! It was, as I expected, absolutely delicious.
When Gianna offered to show us her kitchen and her brick oven, we all jumped up and abandoned the phenomenal meal she had just made us. I had never been in the kitchen of a restaurant before, so I was fascinated. Being given that opportunity made the restaurant seem even more like home. You could just see how proud she was of her restaurant and it was so satisfying listening to her explain about the importance of the wood when using a brick oven.
As much as we hated to do it, we had to settle our bill and waddle back to work. But not before tasting a bit of the gelato they had. I ordered a small cup of the Straticella to take back with me ($2.50) while Aaron and Spiros sampled some of the other flavors, including hazelnut, mango, and jasmine. Gianna openly admitted that she wasn't satisfied with how the jasmine gelato turned out (the flavor was too strong) but vowed that she would try it again in order to get the recipe just right. Just what we wanted to hear!
I can't say enough good things about Manducatis Rustica. Once word gets out about this place, Bella Via is going to have some stiff competition! Manducatis Rustica is a real gem and I know it has already found some loyal customers in the employees at my office. I'm looking forward to my next meal there!
ETA 9/21/2008 1:42pm: Forgot to mention. Manducatis is closed on Mondays. My apologies to the coworkers who went over there in search of pizza for lunch today.
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