Looking For Great Italian Food In Astoria?

It’s a common thought by Manhattanites if you get the edge of the city you’ll fall off. Often people turn up their nose to the outer boroughs because they think that you can’t find great restaurants if you cross the border. Well Cheapeats disputes that.

If you hop on the N or Q train to Astoria/Ditmars stop and walk over to 23rd Avenue, you will find yourself in Italy by way of Astoria. Tucked away on this quiet street is an outstanding Enoteca called Via Vai which means people coming together or passing by. Trust me you don’t want to pass by.


Via Vai  is a quaint spot with picture windows, cozy wooden tables, welcoming bar and large pizza oven. This isn’t your typical pizza oven, it’s a rotating oven that ensure thin crisp crusts. Thin and crispy, just how it should be.

Chef and owner Antonio Morichini came out to greet us. “So…would you like to order from the menu or would a you like a me to put together a menu for you.” Chef, we’re in your hands. We each had a glass of Chianti and waited for the feast to begin.

First Course – Polpette which are meatballs in tomato sauce. I have to admit I am a meatball snob. My Grandfather made the best meatballs and to this day all my cousins and I are still trying to recreate the recipe because no one bothered to write it down. They weren’t my Grandfather’s but they came close. They were tender and light with my favorite utensil; a slice of bread, the perfect starter.


Wine And Cheese

Next was fried calamari. It was crispy, not greasy and also not chewy. But the added surprise was fried artichokes mixed in with a hint of citrus zest. I LOVE fried artichokes.

Second Course – Beet Gnocchi. What? Yes you read right, beet gnocchi. It was a combination of beets and ricotta cheese topped with a truffle cream sauce and toasted hazelnuts. So complex yet so simple. The gnocchi weren’t heavy like most can be because these had no potatoes in them. The purple pillows were light and airy and with the crunch of the nuts, a great play on textures. My friend and I licked the bowl clean and honestly wanted to quote Oliver; “Please sir I want some more.”

Third Course – Saltimbocca. Thinly sliced pork filet topped with prosciutto and sage with whipped potatoes and grilled asparagus on the side. Yum!

“Do you have room for dessert?” Is the Pope Catholic?

Dessert – Tiramisu and Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cake. The tiramisu came in a glass with layers of cream, cake and topped with berries. Mmmmm. The chocolate cake was served warm and was ooey and gooey and the raspberry filling was a sweet surprise. There was silence at the table during this finale.

Via Vai is perfect for date night, the whole family or just because. And the best part, it won’t break the bank.

chocolate lava

If you need a visual, here is our meal. 

Thank you for a lovely evening. My dinner companion still has dreams about the tiramisu.

Happiness, $25 and under.

Via Vai on Urbanspoon

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About The Author

A fierce love of food and twin careers in real estate and fashion taught Rose to look for the hottest item and the hottest deal. Perfect attributes for creating Cheapeatsinc.com. When friends and clients needed a great meal at a great price, she could rattle off restaurant names the way a sports nut ticks off batting averages—but with a lot more home runs. Now it’s all at Cheapeats, where you’ll find “Happiness, $25 and under.”


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