Every family has that birthday month! You know, the one where it always seems to be somebody’s big day. We have a few of those months. January belongs to Jordan, Emily and George. When Emily was little her birthday celebration always seemed to fall on Super Bowl Sunday, a fact that did not make her especially happy. It’s hard to explain to a five year old why everyone is rushing into the kitchen to sing happy birthday and then barely waiting for her to blow out the candles before rushing back out to catch the next play on the television. Many tears later we learned to have that birthday cake much earlier in the day!!
This year dinner fell on a big game day as well. Giants and Forty Niners playing it off for the Super Bowl. Again a small conflict when we tried to schedule an early dinner. Three o’clock seemed a fair enough time to allow us to celebrate in style and then make it home in time for the kick off. George and I had a bet as to whether we would make it. I said we would – he thought not.
We went to Trattoria L’Incontro in Astoria, New York.
Trattoria L’Incontro means a meeting place and it is. It is a place to meet and celebrate family, friends and love of food and wine. Chef Rocco Sacramone turns out wonderful, fresh, creative fare. Vinnie, the maitre d’, is the man to speak to in the front of the house. He’s helped create a tasting menu for us before and he came through again on Sunday. We told him that we wanted a tasting menu for four and that one of the four was gluten intolerant. My mother, not the food adventurer, ordered separately. We trustingly put ourselves into Vinnie’s capable hands and had the most fabulous meal.
First came the wine.
Yes, it was a little sweet but oh so fruity and soft and redolent of strawberries and roses. George, Emily and Jordan are not big wine drinkers and I knew they would never go for a bottle of red. We discussed their preferences with Vinnie and he came up with this Moscato. It may not have paired perfectly with everything on our tasting menu but everyone loved all two bottles of it. George even asked me to see if I could find some for our house.
I love the sun dried tomato spread that they serve with warm bread. You can buy a jar to take with you when you leave. I’ve never bought the jar but have tried to recreate it at home.
We had burrata with prosciutto, sun dried tomatoes and pignoli nuts. So lush and creamy. Great starter.
Then came seared tuna with oranges and herbs. This had a tiny bit of a bite to it. Fabulous.
Next up was a little salad with figs and prosciutto and parmesan. The glaze on the figs was perfectly carmelized and wonderfuly provided just the right balance with the dressing.
They timed my mother’s meal perfectly. Not too early so that she would be sitting and watching us eat but not too late that she would be eating while we watched her and secretly hoped that she would hurry so we could make the kickoff time. Perfect!!
She ordered salmon.
Out of politeness lets just say she is a discerning eater. Read picky here! She loved the salmon and uncharacteristically ate the entire thing. Normally she separates her meal immediately. Half to eat, half to take home and never wavers from this formula. Kudos Chef Rocco.
Our next dish was my favorite, well to be fair, I had many favorites which translates into I loved everything and ate like a pig. It was portobello mushrooms in a brown sauce with a light and tender meatball comprised of wild boar, ostrich and beef. Just like the ones my mother used to make! LOL!
Gluten free pasta was next. I have tried many gluten free pastas and I have found that they are not worth eating and seem to be mostly mush. But this pasta was perfectly al dente. If I had not been told it was gluten free I would not have known. They make the pasta on the premises. It came with veal ragu.
Branzino with sauteed string beans and roasted potatoes.
Now I was pretty much done here. I think we all were but Vinnie insisted we have one more dish. He actually said that there were three more in the tasting line up but after we convinced him that we couldn’t possibly have another bite of anything he brought out the ostrich medallions and promised there was no more.
Velvety soft in their tenderness, mild in flavor, they were the perfect finale of our tasting menu. Wait, did I say finale?? This was a birthday dinner after all. Not one but three birthdays to celebrate. You’re right – we had to have dessert.
You may ask why Emily is in every picture , well, that is just Emily!!
Happy birthday family! We got home in time for the game. The fact that George fell asleep before it was over and left me biting my knuckles into overtime alone, well that is a whole other story!!
Next door to Trattoria L’Incontro and part of the restaurant is the wine bar Vino di Vino. We have been here too. You can enjoy one of the wines from their amazing and huge wine list with assortments of cheeses, meats or pizza.
Or you can just sip some wine while waiting for a table at the Trattoria. The classic old school service will make you feel like a much welcomed guest.
Either way you will be happy you came here and whether you order from the menu or do a tasting as we did you will leave happily sated and eager to return.