Tag Archives: Il Bambino

The ultimate soup, salad and sammie

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Bradley Hawks

If you have been, then you already know what makes Il Bambino great. Think paninoteca wuzzled with a tapas bar that also offers a fantastic selection of affordable wines.  The outdoor space is cozy (enjoy it while the weather permits), and long hours allow for everything from a hearty brunch with lots of friends to a cheese plate with preserves and wine with someone special in the evening (open until at least 10 p.m.; midnight on weekends).

The crostini come two to a plate, which makes them ideal for choosing a few different ones for sharing.  The panini are absolutely enormous, and perfect for splitting, as well.

Brunch is served three days a week: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday from 10:30am – 3:30pm. Brunch features a special menu of hilarious titles that actually make you want to read the full menu, such as Sir Oink-a-lot, The Fun Guy, or the Notorious P.I.G. with scrambled eggs, smoked bacon, artisan cheddar, and truffle spread.

One of the newest panini additions features finocchiona, olive spread, fresh tomato, chili oil, and provolone. Other exciting ingredients appearing throughout the menu include cappa ham, piquillo peppers,  chickpea butter, fried eggplant, rosemary ricotta, and apricot butter.

The bread is made exclusively for Il Bambino at Gian Piero Bakery, and cannot be purchased outside of the store.  Its outer crunch gives way to a wonderfully chewy and moist inside.  A greater selection of gourmet panini would be difficult to find.

Besides the panini, you can create your own antipasti selection, or choose from tapas and salads.  Something I order every single time I take someone for their first visit is this potato salad, with sliced fingerlings tossed in truffle mayo, with fried shallots, a drizzle of basil pesto, and a snowfall of pecorino.

Soups here are some of the very best around, ranging from roasted pumpkin with sweet spices and fresh thyme to split pea prosciutto, potato with roasted mushrooms and garlic, potato-cauliflower with toasted almond, and, for when it’s really cold, a sweet sausage minestrone with ditalini pasta.

Do not leave without the panna cotta. A vanilla bean custard  sits in a pool of homemade strawberry sauce, with chilled cornflake clusters dipped in chocolate. Even if you think you are full, trust me, these are worth it.  Even the peanut butter rice crispie treats coated in chocolate are fantastic.

The staff is one of the best in the neighborhood.  Each table has a small glossary on it, making unfamiliar cheese and charcuterie accessible while avoiding the embarrassment of asking, “what’s this?”   Il Bambino delivers.  I also call ahead on my way into work to place an order, swing by and grab it, and then watch my Manhattan friends drool at the gourmet goods as they all enviously ask where I got it.  “Astoria,” I smile.

Il Bambino
34-08 31st Avenue, Astoria
Mon-Thu 10:30 am – 10:30 pm
Fri 10:30 am – 12 am
Sat 10 am – 12 am
Sun 10 am – 10 pm




Record 117 Queens restaurants in Zagat guide

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photos

The newly released 2013 NYC Restaurant Survey lists 117 Queens restaurants, the highest number that has ever been included in the annual guidebook.

Overall, a record 2,120 restaurants made it into the guide, which went on sale this week.

Zagat also lists additional reviews online, which have been integrated with Google since the Internet company acquired it last year.

Though most of the guidebook’s top rated restaurants are in Manhattan or Brooklyn, two Queens establishments received honors.

Sripraphai, in Woodside, won for best Thai food, and first time winner Il Bambino, in Astoria, was rated the best for sandwiches.

Along with reviewing restaurants, Zagat also surveyed New York City diners on their eating habits and tracked restaurant closings and openings.

For the first time surveyors said they cooked at home more than they ordered in or went out for food. But the difference was small: 6.7 meals per week versus 6.4.

Despite diners’ preference for staying in, with 60 closings, fewer restaurants shut down this year than last.

Another notable restaurant rater, Michelin, also released its New York City Restaurants 2013 guidebook this week.

It includes 896 eateries across the five boroughs, but only 66 were awarded Michelin stars.

The only Queens restaurant that is part of that group is Danny Brown Wine Bar & Kitchen in Forest Hills. It received one star out of three, meaning that it’s a “very good restaurant in its category, offering cuisine prepared to a consistently high standard.”

Michelin also recently announced its New York City Bib Gourmands—good-value restaurants that serve two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (not including tax or tip)—and 15 Queens establishments made the list.

Zagat 2013 New York City Restaurants in Queens:

Note: The 117 total includes restaurants with multiple locations.

5 Napkin Burger (Burgers)

Aegean Cove (Greek)

Afghan Kebab (House Afghan)

Agnanti (Greek)

Agora Taverna (Greek)

Alberto (Italian)

Arepas Café (Venezuelan)

Astor Room (American/Continental)

Ayada (Thai)

Bahari Estiatorio (Greek)

Baluchi’s (Indian)

Bann Thai (Thai)

BareBurger (Burgers)

Barosa (Italian)

Basil Brick Oven Pizza (Pizza)

Bella Via (Italian)

Ben’s Best (Deli/Kosher)

Ben’s Kosher Deli (Deli/Kosher)

Biang (Chinese/Noodle Shop)

Blue Smoke (BBQ)

Bobby Van’s Steakhouse (Steak)

BonChon Chicken (Chicken)

Bourbon Street Café (Cajun/Southern)

Brick Café (French/Italian)

Butcher Bar (BBQ)

Cabana (Nuevo Latino)

Café Henri (French)

Casa Enrique (Mexican)

Cávo (Greek)

Christos (Steak House)

Corner Bistro (Burgers)

Danny Brown Wine Bar & Kitchen (European)

Dee’s (Mediterranean/Pizza)

Don Peppe (Italian)

Donovan’s (Pub Food)

East Buffet (Asian/Eclectic)

East Manor (Chinese)

Elias Corner (Greek/Seafood)

Erawan (Thai)

Fairway Café (American)

Grand Sichuan (Chinese)

Grimaldi’s (Pizza)

Il Bambino (Italian)

Jackson Diner (Indian)

Jackson Hole (Burgers)

Joe’s Shanghai (Chinese)

King Yum (Chinese/Polynesian)

Kum Gang San (Korean)

Kyochon Chicken (Chicken)

La Baraka (French)

La Vigna (Italian)

La Villa Pizzeria (Pizza)

Leo’s Latticini (Deli/Italian)

Locale  (Italian)

London Lennie’s (Seafood)

Loukoumi Taverna (Greek)

Malagueta (Brazilian)

Mamajuana Cafe (Dominican/Nuevo Latino)

Mama’s of Corona (Deli/Italian)

Manducatis (Italian)

Manducatis Rustica (Italian)

Manetta’s (Italian)

MexiBBQ (BBQ/Mex.)

Mojave (Southwestern)

Mundo (Argentinean/Turkish)

Nick’s (Pizza)

Omonia Café (Coffeehouse/Greek)

Ovelia (Greek)

Pachanga Patterson (Mexican)

Papaya King (Hot Dogs)

Park Side (Italian)

Pho Bang (Noodle Shop/Vietnamese)

Piccola Venezia (Italian)

Ping’s Seafood (Chinese/Seafood)

Pio Pio (Peruvian)

Ponticello (Italian)

Press 195 (Sandwiches)

Queens Kickshaw (Coffeehouse/Sandwiches)

Riverview (American)

Rizzo’s Pizza (Pizza)

Salt & Fat (American)

Sanford’s (American)

Sentosa (Malaysian)

Seva Indian Cuisine (Indian)

Shake Shack (Burgers)

Shi (Asian)

Shiro of Japan (Japanese)

Sidetracks (American)

Sik Gaek (Korean)

Spicy & Tasty (Chinese)

Sripraphai (Thai)

Stamatis (Greek)

Sugar Freak (Cajun/Creole)

Szechuan Gourmet (Chinese)

Taverna Kyclades (Greek/Seafood)

Telly’s Taverna (Greek/Seafood)

Testaccio (Italian)

Thai Pavilion (Thai)

Tortilleria Nixtamal (Mexican)

Tournesol (French)

Trattoria L’incontro (Italian)

Turkish Grill (Turkish)

Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse (Steak)

Uvarara (Italian)

Valentino’s on the Green (Italian)

Vesta (Italian)

Watawa (Japanese)

Water’s Edge (American/Seafood)

Xi’an Famous Foods (Chinese)

Zabb Elee (Thai)

Zum Stammtisch (German)

Michelin New York City Bib Gourmands in Queens:

Alobar (American New)

Andy’s Seafood & Grill (Chinese)

Ayada (Thai)

Basil Brick Oven Pizza (Pizza)

Bistro 33 (French-Japanese Fusion)

Casa Enrique (Mexican)

Hino Maru Ramen (Japanese)

Hunan House (Chinese)

Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan (Chinese)

Little Pepper (Chinese)

Lu Xiang Yuan (Chinese)

Ornella (Italian)

Salt & Fat (American New)

Uncle Zhou (Chinese)

Zabb Elee (Thai)