Tag Archives: Italian

PHOTOS: Italian pride on display at Howard Beach Columbus Day Parade

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Cross Bay Boulevard was awash in red, white and green on Sunday in celebration of the Howard Beach Columbus Day Foundation’s 10th Columbus Day Parade.

The parade kicked off on the corner of 156th Avenue and made its way southbound on the boulevard in a colorful procession of floats and fanfare.

This year’s grand marshal was Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello, the pastor of St. Bernard’s parish in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn. Deputy Commissioner of Sanitation Rocco DiRico and NYPD Inspector John Corbisiero shared the honor and title of the parade’s deputy grand marshals. Other honorees included Salvatore Armao, a local certified public accountant and Italian-American Businessperson of the Year.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz marched in the parade along side City Councilman Eric Ulrich, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, Community Board 10 Chair Elizabeth Braton and state Senator Joseph Addabbo, who was accompanied by his two daughters Alexis and Arianna.


Grand Marshal Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello (center) of St. Bernard’s parish in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn, kicked off the parade with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Gigantiello and his fellow honorees celebrated the official start of the parade with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. An honor guard from the NYPD Ceremonial Unit, along with the NYPD marching band and Emerald Society bag pipers, led the parade. The procession that followed included an array of marching bands and contingents from Franklin K. Lane, St. Francis Preparatory, Christ the King Regional and All City high schools.

A group of young students from St. Helen’s Catholic Academy carried a large Italian flag banner and wore special red, green and white beaded necklaces. They were joined by scouts from St. Helen’s Troop 139, American Softball League, students from Mantra MMA, and team members and parents from the Ozone Howard Little League.


Howard Beach Columbus Day Foundation

Fraternal organizations such as the Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA), UNICO National, Kiwanis Club of Howard Beach and the South Ozone Park Council of the Knights of Columbus also joined in the festivities.

Colorful floats outfitted in gold and white streamers from local businesses and the Howard Beach Columbus Day Foundation carried a host of lively DJs, dancers and revelers.

Parade spectators of all ages waved Italian flags and danced to both traditional and modern versions of Italian songs played from passing floats. Pope Francis even made an appearance in the form of cardboard cut-outs and souvenirs from the recent papal visit.


Osteria Italiana: For a real Italian experience

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Looking for real Italian food, but can’t go to Italy? Then how about Maspeth?

Osteria Italiana, which loosely translates to “Italian restaurant,” opened up over the summer on 61st Street near Grand Avenue with a familiar face.

Head chef and part-owner Michael Zampitelli, who is an Italian native turned Maspeth resident, brings nearly 40 years of Italian cooking experience to the neighborhood. Zampitelli owned a popular restaurant in nearby Glendale, which was forced to close in 2008 due to high rental costs.

Zampitelli, who has worked in the restaurant business starting as a teenager in Rome, wants to bring affordable, authentic Italian food to the neighborhood with Osteria.

Chicken cordon bleu

“Everywhere you go in the city, the neighborhoods are mixed. You can find everything,” Zampitelli said. “Personally I think in Maspeth there are no real Italian restaurants. You find diners and pizzerias, but no real Italian restaurants.”

Aside from Zampitelli’s extensive Italian cooking experience, Osteria’s food is authenticated by the ingredients, such as cheeses and olive oil, which are imported directly from Italy.

The menu at Osteria is wide and can satisfy many taste buds.

Starters include soups, salads and appetizers. One appetizer, the eggplant parmigiana, is covered with fresh mozzarella and Parmigiano cheese with a savory marinara sauce.

Spaghetti alla carbonara 

Entrees include a range of pastas, chicken, veal and fish dishes.

Zampitelli’s spaghetti alla carbonara is a masterpiece at $11.95, for those not watching their waistline. The pasta dish is a mix of pecorino cheese, a creamy sauce and bits of bacon.

The chicken cordon bleu, at $14.95, is a hefty meal with big pieces of tender chicken, served with mushrooms and mashed potatoes.

Desserts on the menu include an Italian cheesecake with ricotta cheese and tiramisu, along with other Italian classics. And of course wines, such as merlot, are on the menu as well.

With Zampitelli’s return, some of his long-time customers have followed him to Osteria. He believes it’s because of the quality of his food and the friendly way he treats his patrons.

“Everyone who comes here we treat like family, that’s why they’ve follow me for many, many years,” Zampitelli said.

Osteria Italiana
57-57 61st Street, Maspeth
Hours: Monday-Sunday Noon-11 p.m.
Cash only
Wheelchair accessible




Vetro: Superior quality all around

| editorial1@queenscourier.com


For a truly elegant dining experience, visit Vetro of Howard Beach. Exceptional service, an enormous menu, vintage wines and champagnes – all come together in a chic, modern atmosphere on the water.

Our waiter, Lance, was much more than a server, acting as a culinary “tour guide” through the menu that has established Vetro as the talk of the town.

Begin your meal with a glass of red wine, signature to the authentic Italian experience. The sangiovese is rich and full bodied. If you’re in the mood for white, sample the sauvignon blanc: citrusy, light, and pleasantly nutty. Complement your beverage with an assortment of appetizers, including the grilled octopus, which is delicately flavored with garlic, parsley, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. If you’re searching for something different, order the sushi Italiano – complete with raw sushi-grade tuna wrapped in layers of prosciutto, celery and white truffle oil.

In Italy, people frequently begin their meal with “primi piatti,” a small serving of pasta, anything from spaghetti to cavatelli. At Vetro, this tradition is upheld through the surplus of pasta dishes, available in appetizer portions and with various sauces. My guest and I sampled the lobster ravioli DeGeorgio, a signature dish from Chef DeGeorgio –fresh Maine lobster, draped in rich cognac and heavy cream, truly delicious. If you’re searching for something modest, order the Russo’s spaghetti garlic & oil – spaghetti dressed in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, Gaeta olives and toasted walnuts: a charming rendition of “poor man’s pasta.”

The entrees at Vetro are perfectly portioned while successful at incorporating new and inventive concepts into classic Italian dishes. In the mood for fish? Order the Chilean sea bass served with plum tomatoes, garlic, shallots, seasoned breadcrumbs and white wine. If you’re a meat eater, the bistecca is for you: aged Sterling silver shell steak doused in a delicious beef broth with burro di Parma, a rich Italian butter.

Painted in shades of deep red and warm gold, and featuring brilliant tableware, rich drapery and light fixtures, the décor upholds a high standard of sophistication. While enjoying the atmosphere, order an espresso and the dessert sampler. The crème brulee was flambéed at our table, a divine combination of custard crème topped with caramelized sugar. My guest sampled the Opera Trio – layered vanilla, chocolate and hazelnut mousse over devils food sponge, glazed with milk chocolate: decadent, flavorful, sweet.

Vetro is the perfect place to spend a night with friends or your loved one- excellent food, a hospitable, informed wait staff and chic atmosphere. Whether you’re looking for somewhere to host your next event or an innovative culinary adventure, visit Vetro of Howard Beach…you won’t be disappointed.

Vetro by Russo’s on the Bay

164-49 Cross Bay Boulevard

Howard Beach, New York 11414-3444

Tel: 718-843-8387



Monday – Saturday noon – 11 p.m.

Sunday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Parking: Private lot, valet

Attire: Dressy


Valentino’s to reopen as Patrizia’s

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Craving some good, old-fashioned Italian eats?

Valentino’s  is set to reopen as Patrizia’s on Tuesday, June 12. The renamed restaurant will have a new menu, featuring family-style Italian cuisine.

The Parks and Recreation department approved the request made by the Friendship Restaurant Group – the Valentino’s concessionaire – to change the restaurant’s name to Patrizia’s and switch to family-style Italian.

This Trattoria has a ‘Neo’ take on Italian

| editorial1@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Joanna M. Adduci

Trattoria Neo combines customary Italian dishes with a pleasant, aesthetic atmosphere making for an enjoyable, innovative dining experience. The venue is charming, to say the least, and provides a full bar and a cozy dining room lined in antique Italian pottery, finished with exquisite walls and ceiling.

Open for over two years, Trattoria Neo has redesigned its menu and incorporated music-inspired evenings and wine specials.

Greeted by the host on our arrival, we were seated in the intimate dining area, and immediately ordered from the extensive wine menu. The establishment offers a surplus of renowned wines including a delightful Sauvignon Blanc and the acclaimed “Blood of Jupiter,” a distinctive, strong-bodied Cabernet. The dinner menu is organized into various categories including salads, antipasti, first-course selections, second-course selections and a traditional dessert menu. This establishment has elevated itself over many Italian eateries through its ability to harness traditional cuisine while incorporating a modern atmosphere and innovative menu.

Antipasti include classic selections such as an Italian cold cut platter and fried calamari, as well as chef-inspired specials such as an imported buffalo mozzarella and a shaved artichoke dish served with granulated pistachios, mache and shaved Parmigiano. I tried the artichoke dish and was overwhelmed by the combination of the textured artichoke and nutty accents from the pistachio. Served over a bed of arugula, this dish is a must-try. My guest and I sampled the veal and beef meatballs — flavorful, moist and just the right amount of sauce topped with basil leaves. Finally, we had a fried rice ball – a savory assortment of flavors capped off with a saffron sauce — delicious!

Dinner platters range from homemade pastas served with classic Italian sauces, to creative dishes such as the spinach gnocchi in a creamy Gorgonzola sauce, or the ravioli stuffed with spinach and ricotta in a light, creamy black truffle sauce.

Trattoria Neo has a sincere passion for food, and an innovative outlook on reconstructing Italian classics into modern-day customer favorites. And with a genuine concern for customers’ gastronomy, they also offer gluten-free pasta.

For my main course, I sampled a filet of sole with lemon sauce. The fish was cooked perfectly, served on a bed of sautéed spinach and garlic mashed potatoes. The presentation was nothing less than impeccable. The chef completed the platter with shaved lemon rind and cherry tomatoes lining the plate — beautiful!

There are many selections for customers who don’t prefer fish, such as the Parmesan encrusted chicken served with a martini lemon sauce and the grilled 14oz Brandt sirloin steak surrounded with steak fries.

This restaurant embraces its Italian heritage while incorporating various aspects of American, French and Southwestern cuisines. Before leaving this charming Trattoria, try the homemade tiramisu or Nutella Pizza complete with an espresso.

Trattoria Neo of Whitestone provides a contemporary, yet classically-influenced menu complete with a warm, cozy dining area and full-length, beautifully-placed bar. Make sure to visit the web site for weekly specials including DJ nights, wine/price fixed dinners and pasta nights.


Trattoria Neo

15-01 149th Street

Whitestone, NY 11357



Open daily for lunch and dinner

Sunday Brunch Buffet 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Wednesday is “Pasta Day”

Dine in, take out


Renouncing Stereotypes

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com



As the president of the Figli di San Gennaro, Inc., the non-profit organization which has operated the annual San Gennaro Feast in Little Italy since 1996, I am disappointed and shocked by the article “Officials Say a Little Italy Tradition is Back: The Mob at San Gennaro” by Alan Feuer, that appeared in the New York section of your April 19, 2012 edition.
The article discussed the Feast of San Gennaro in Manhattan, and a federal indictment in Brooklyn of 11 men who had absolutely no connection to the Feast of San Gennaro.
Your article is baseless, misinforms, mischaracterizes, and most importantly, relies upon, revives and rekindles old derogatory stereotypes.
This article leaves the incorrect impression that the San Gennaro Feast is rife with criminal activity when in fact it is not. The Brooklyn indictment does not name one person associated with the Feast, nor does it even implicate the Feast.
In addition, the “Mob at San Gennaro” article incorrectly implies that the indictment concerns the San Gennaro Feast, when in fact the 18-count indictment has nothing to do with the Feast except to say that there was one unsuccessful attempt four years ago by one of the defendants to extort some participants of the Feast.
Not one aspect of the Feast was implicated or criticized by the indictment or by the authors. As NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said, the Feast was used. In a very real sense, the Feast is a victim.
One fact that your article overlooked is that Italian-Americans are known for their generosity. Since its inception, Figli di San Gennaro has donated approximately $1 million to charity from the proceeds of its annual San Gennaro Feast.
More importantly, and please understand this, all members of Figli di San Gennaro’s board are upstanding members of the Italian-American community. These members include residents of Little Italy, businesspeople, judges and lawyers. As you well know, all aspects of the Feast are overseen and reviewed, which includes all suppliers, each of whom must be approved by the NYC Department of Investigation (DOI).
The DOI in addition monitors and reviews all disbursements made by the Feast.
Further, and without question, all activities overseen by the Feast organizers have improved over the past several years. There have been virtually no complains from residents, while business and community impact and concerns have been addressed.
Most important, however, is the manner in which your article is written. It is laced with innuendo and sarcasm and offensive phrases such as “red sauce joints” and “gangland figure.” Your implication that crime is an Italian-American tradition is, in short, very offensive.
Worse is the statement that it is impossible to know if the Feast is corrupt. Not only is this not factual, it is yet another cleverly-disguised slur, particularly when surrounded by phrases “La Cosa Nostra” and “Mafia.” The New York Times must cease using phrases that link members of the Italian-American community to organized crime.
For The New York Times to allow an article to be published about an act committed in 2008 by an individual who has never been involved with the San Gennaro Feast or its organizers, then to further imply that this singular act is a recurring problem internally within the San Gennaro feast is not just lacking in journalistic integrity, but smacks of discrimination and bigotry against Italian-Americans.

CAV. JOSEPH MATTONE, K.M., K.H.S. is the president of the Figli di San Gennaro, Inc.

Bruno’s — Italian done right

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of The Queens Courier

Competition amongst Italian cuisines on Cross Bay Boulevard is fierce, with an array of long-standing, established eateries lining the main road in Howard Beach.

So when longtime restaurateur Bruno Rinaldi opened up Bruno-Ristorante Italiano on the boulevard — close to seven weeks ago in September — he knew he would have to find a way to stand out above other businesses.

Before Bruno’s, Rinaldi was co-owner of the former Carosello Restaurant, which was also located on Cross Bay Boulevard. Forty-four years of experience gives Rinaldi more than a fighting chance amongst competitors, and the restaurant’s cozy, at-home ambiance, simple yet elegant décor, delectable food and novelty brick oven blow other businesses out of the water.

Rinaldi said he went from managing 9,000-square-feet of space to 2,000, allowing him to better serve his customers. Rinaldi and his attentive wait staff know how to make a visit personal and memorable, whether or not the patron is a loyal fan following him up the boulevard to his new quarters, or a brand new customer.

The experience starts just outside, where Bruno’s entices eaters with the delightful and seductive aroma of fresh, made-to-order brick oven pizza. Offering a wide variety – including margherita, napolitano, campagnola, seafood, vegetarian and more – Bruno’s pies are perfect for individual tastes.

Down to the crust, the Regina Margherita in particular is a superior pizza pie that New Yorkers can be proud of. It comes with a tantalizing blend of fresh buffalo mozzarella, basil, extra virgin olive oil and fresh grape tomatoes heaped upon a wood-fired, crispy, hearth-baked crust. It’s also great for anybody on-the-go who isn’t willing to sacrifice taste for time, since it only takes 90 seconds to make from the moment it hits the oven.

As for an appetizer, for anyone who has ever had a bad experience with octopus, try Bruno’s grilled pulpo. Served on a bed of greens, the dish comes with four exceptionally tender and moist pieces of octopi — supple enough to cut with a fork. The reason for its incredible tenderness, Rinaldi said, is the fact that the succulent supply is shipped overseas from Portugal. The hint of lemon over the dish seals the deal.

Entrees include a large selection of pastas, meats and seafood. The Chicken Capricciosa came highly recommend and boasts a blend of diced tomatoes, onions and balsamic vinegar drizzled over two generously-large and thinly-sliced pieces of breaded, pan fried chicken cutlets.

Other best-selling, crowd favorite entrees worth checking out include the Filet of Sole Oreganata and the Veal Sorrentino.

The restaurant received an “A” on its state inspection test right off the bat, and Rinaldi means business. For a delicious meal with personal service in a relaxing atmosphere, try Bruno’s and enjoy Italian cuisine done right.

Parade is source of (Italian) pride

| tcimino@queenscourier.com


Get ready to paint the town green, white and red this weekend.

This Sunday, Howard Beach will be awash with Italian pride as the Howard Beach Columbus Day Foundation Inc. presents its 6th annual Columbus Day Parade.

Beginning at noon on Cross Bay Boulevard, there will be floats, live entertainment, Italian delicacies and specialties (zeppole anyone?), elected officials — and a lot of “orgoglio” (pride).

Previous parades have drawn thousands of spectators and honorees such as Rosanna Scotto from Fox 5.

The Howard Beach Columbus Day Foundation is a non-profit organization whose goal is to promote the Italian culture and well-being of society by scholarships, educational programs and community activities.

Every year, the Foundation celebrates the largest Italian-American Columbus parade. Spectators travel as far as from Italy to participate in the enjoyment of the parade.

The Foundation rewards its members and supporters by a Dinner Dance Gala to commemorate their hard work and dedication. This year, it will recognize six honorees: Nicholas DiMarzio, Roman Catholic bishop, diocese of Brooklyn; Sergeant Anthony Cesarano, president of the NYPD Columbia Association; Mitchell Weiss, NYPD chief clergy liaison; Josephine Maietta, board member of Italian Heritage and Culture Committee of New York; former U.S. Senator Alfonse D’Amato and entertainer Angelo Venuto.

The Gala will be held on September 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Russo’s On The Bay.