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Villaggio – fresh home cooking


By Steve Mosco

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010 12:00 AM EDT

THE QUEENS COURIER/Photos by Steve Mosco
The Rigatoni Alla Siciliana is rustic and delicious.THE QUEENS COURIER/Photos by Steve Mosco
The Rigatoni Alla Siciliana is rustic and delicious.

Setting matters when it comes to eating – perhaps not as much as taste and affordability, but it definitely does matter. At Villaggio Whitestone, not only do you get a deliciously authentic Italian meal at a fair price, you also get accommodating service in a setting reminiscent of a Tuscany villa.

Villaggio owner Joe Loccisano knows the importance of his customers comfort and of family. That is why he had his sister, Silvana, design the interior of the restaurant in homage to the welcoming homeland of the restaurant’s cuisine.

“There aren’t many restaurants like ours anywhere, let alone Whitestone,” said Loccisano, whose restaurant is fully dressed in Tuscany murals. “We offer an Italian experience that you can’t get unless you actually go to Italy.”

Thankfully, Villaggio’s classic Italian appetizers are right here in Queens. Start with the Calamari Fritti – golden fried squid with marinara sauce on the side. The squid is not overly breaded at all; instead it is lightly dusted and fried just right. The calamari is available on its own or with fried shrimp, baked clams and eggplant rollatini in the Hot Antipasto appetizer.

Before ordering an entrée, it would be wise to explore Villaggio’s brick oven pizza menu. Brick oven offers unique characteristics in texture and flavor. The classic Margherita is an easy choice – and a wise one at that. Other offerings include the Napoletana, with capers, anchovies, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes; and the Quattro Stagioni, served with prosciutto, artichoke, asparagus, mushrooms, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes.

For an entrée, Villaggio’s pasta dishes are fresh and made to order. Nothing is precooked, so they can easily handle special requests, such as no salt, extra pepper or anything else – including special dietary requirements.

Try the Rigatoni Alla Siciliana for a taste of Italia rustica. Rigatoni pasta sautéed with garlic, black olives, tomato sauce and topped with goat cheese. It’s the perfect marriage of flavors with intensity of the garlic and black olives smoothed out with the natural sweetness of the tomato sauce.

Villaggio’s standout dish is the Cassoletta di Braszino. This dish features a filet of branzino, a type of sea bass, surrounded by shrimp, mussels, clams and basil in a garlic white wine marinara sauce. The fish is light and flaky, while the seafood provides plenty of auxiliary flavors – and that sauce is perfect for mopping up with crusty bread. Speaking of bread, Villaggio provides slices of their brick oven pizza in every bread basket given to their customers after seating. That might be worth the trip alone.


Villaggio is bellissimo for fine Italian cuisine

      Queens Chronicle March 2012

Posted: Thursday, March 8, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 12:16 pm, Mon Mar 26, 2012.

Dining at Villaggio Ristorante in Whitestone is like relaxing in a charming Italian home and being served a fine meal.

Located at 150-07 14th Road, near the Cross Island Parkway, you feel welcome the moment you enter the door and pass by a lovely cherry wood bar and a brick-oven pizza-making area. You can sit in a glass-enclosed sunroom featuring a waterfall or the traditional dining room filled with paintings, drapes and even name plates, if you’re a regular.

Owner Joe Loccisano opened the restaurant seven years ago in a former bakery and it was an instant hit. Tasting the food, one can see why.

“We named it Villaggio after the Whitestone village and it’s a family place, with food that’s good for sharing,” Loccisano said. “It’s how we eat at home.”

The portions are large so you won’t mind sharing. We tried a sampling of appetizers and it was hard to chose the favorite. The fried calamari was crisp and tender and the eggplant rolatini thick and rich. The sauce was perfect.

Next time, we’ll try the melanzane villaggio, one of the specialties of the house, for an appetizer. It’s breaded eggplant with mozzarella, prosciutto, basil and tomatoes baked in a tomato sauce. A meal in itself.

The waitstaff was helpful, prompt and polite. Our waiter, Benny, made suggestions and added to the refined ambience of the restaurant.

For a salad, we tried that night’s special: tri-color greens with sauteed calamari in an olive oil and garlic dressing. Very refreshing and delicious.

It was difficult to select an entree; they all sounded good. The restaurant features several homemade pastas, including homemade mushroom-spinach ravioli and cavatelli with garlic, olive oil, broccoli rabe and sausage.

I opted for the veal chop sorrentino, while my guest had Chilean sea bass. We were not disappointed.

The veal chop was huge and stuffed with prosciutto, eggplant and fontina cheese in a light brown sauce. Accompanying the meat were roasted potato cubes and sauteed spinach and garlic. The dish was a delight for the palate.

The Chilean sea bass, a house special, came in a white wine and lemon sauce with caramelized onions, capers and cherry tomatoes. No wonder it’s a favorite. The side dish was a delicious angel hair pasta in garlic and oil.

Villaggio doesn’t make it any easier to decide on dessert either. We picked tiramisu, always a favorite, and a refreshingly delicious limonchello truffle that consisted of lemon gelato with a heart of limonchello liqueur that was surrounded by meringue sprinkles. It was truly unique and wonderful.

If we weren’t so stuffed or had come with a larger crowd, we would have tried the nutella pizza for dessert, featuring a hazelnut-chocolate spread.

The restaurant also has a wide range of pizzas, including seafood with shrimp, calamari and clams and a white pizza with spinach or broccoli. Loccisano says they do a big take-out business as well.

Villaggio is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Hours are Sunday through Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, noon to 11 p.m. There is friendly valet parking Tuesday-Saturday. For information, call (718) 747-1111.

Italian Restaurants in Whitestone, New York

Whitestone is home to both contemporary and traditional Italian cuisine.

Whitestone is located in New York City on the north side of Queens. Whitestone has a large Italian-American population, and the neighborhood's cuisine reflects this heritage. Area restaurants envelop the full spectrum of Italian cuisine, from hearty comfort food, to modern eclectic fare, to crisp, cheesy brick oven pizzas. Does this Spark an idea?

Villagio Brick Oven Pizza & Café

  • Murals of Italian landscapes intermingle with contemporary artwork to create an atmosphere of relaxed sophistication at this restaurant. Two European chefs concoct dishes of pasta, risotto, veal, steak, chicken, fish and, of course, brick oven pizzas. The pizzas are individually sized, and diners can choose between white or whole wheat crusts. Villagio's martini menu nicely complements the cuisine. A takeout menu and catering are available.

    Villagio Brick Oven Pizza & Café

    150-07 14th Road

    Whitestone, NY 11357


January 19, 2005 - Tonia N. Cimino for DINING OUT - THE QUEENS COURIER
Mangiamo In Italia 
(Let’s Eat In Italy)

here is nothing like dining al fresco in Italy. But my recent experience at Villaggio in Whitestone came close. An immersion in all things Italian, the two-tier restaurant is exquisite, with painted muraled walls, soothing motifs and soft lighting. Upon first entering, one is delighted by the aroma of brick oven pizza, authentic to the trattorias in Italy. Moving up to the dining room, one is transported to the canals of Venice, the hills of Tuscany, and the landscape of Rome.

My companion and I were greeted by brothers Joseph and Dominick Loccisano and Tony Curcuru, co-owners, all of whom bring true Italian hospitality to each and every patron.“We want to give a taste of Italy to Whitestone,” said Joseph. And do they. True to form, the menu was ripe with every dish imaginable… and then some.

“They have a wonderful selection,” commended my companion. Along with the traditional dishes, such as eggplant rollatini, Villaggio also serves carpaccio di manzo, mushroom ravioli, and shrimp curry, among other different things. But before we ordered we were surprised with a foccaccia pizza, topped with sun-dried tomatoes, capers, basil and black olives. The perfect blend of seasonings and spices was juxtaposed nicely to the thin-crusted dough. For appetizers, I opted to try the pepata di cozze (mussels served in wine sauce), while my companion chose caprese di bufala (fresh mozzarella with basil and tomatoes).

The freshness of the mussels was heightened by the infusion of the rich white wine sauce – definitely the best I ever tasted. The caprese, meanwhile, combined such an array of flavors, colors and textures as to mmake my mouth water. My companion comented that the roasted peppers were among the best she had ever tried.

The chef, Maurizio Bortolus, then gave us bruschetta, but he made it his own by topping the braised bread with smoked salmon. It was a true delight. We then moved on to the entrée, for which I choose scaloppini di vitello saltimbocca – medallions of veal with prosciutto, sliced tomatoe and sage in a wine sauce. My companion opted for the veal marsala, sautéed with mushrooms and served in a marshala wine sauce. My dish was extraordinary; the sauce was viscuous and delightful and the veal was extremely tender. The veal marsala was far better than even my grandmother’s.

Full to bursting, we still made room for dessert. I chose coconut ripieno, which was a large coconut shell filled with coconut sorbet and real pieces of coconut, and my companion chose tiramisu, which she truly delighted in. Bortolus, whose talents with cuisine can be compared to none other than Michelangelo, then served us a large platter of mixed fruits, including star fruit, nectarines, pears, grapes, and oranges, and lime sorbet with champagne, which was the perfect way to end the perfect meal. I highly recommend Villaggio, as it has all the elements of a great restaurant – ambience, cuisine, selection and service.

January 19, 2005 - Tonia N. Cimino for DINING OUT - THE QUEENS COURIER