Please note that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!
So we were back to Via Vai in Astoria where Chef Antonio Morichini is now proposing a family meal on Sundays, called “Pranzo di Domenica in famiglia”. Yes, a family meal and not a brunch, although there are few dishes with eggs on the menu. As he said, if he would call it a brunch, not only people would expect eggs, but also waffles and pancakes, that are not items he is proposing. At Via Vai, you would only get traditional Italian dishes: no penne a la vodka or chicken parmigiana. Everything there is made from scratch, from the pasta to the tomato sauce, and some ingredients are even imported directly from Italy, like the mozzarella.
So we were really excited to go there and retrieve the warmth we found the first time we went, warmth not only from that place, but also from its owner, Chef Antonio, and manager, Manuel, who is also from Roma. The place has not changed at all, except the multiple carnival masks that are all over the restaurant.
Menu wise, we were there for a treat. The way the family lunch works is that, for $28, you order two dishes from the large selection and get a dessert (so it is a 3 course meal). You want two pasta dishes? Get them! You want two pizzas? No problem. Well, I guess the only problem is the fact that there are so many choices that look appetizing, that you do not know which one to order...So, as we were making up our mind, they brought us some bread with some olive oil. The bread, that is the same dough as the pizza, was cooked in their pizza oven that gave it a wonderful crispness and char.
Then, we got what I would call our appetizers, solely because they came first...The first one was Ueva al Forno or two baked eggs prepared with porcini mushrooms, fontina cheese and truffle oil. It was a delicious dish that had just the right amount of truffle oil so we could smell it and taste it, without being overpowering. The eggs were also perfectly runny.
The second appetizer was the Polpette di Manzo or beef meatball smothered in a San Marzano tomato sauce. Very comforting, the meatballs were succulent, not dry at all. And that sauce! It was so good that I could not resist dipping some bread in it.
After that, came the entrées. The first one was the pizza spinaci e ueva or pizza with spinach and eggs. I was lucky enough to watch Chef Antonio Morichini make it from scratch and cook it in their authentic Italien oven for couple of minutes.
This was a very good pizza: the thin crust was crispy and nicely charred, and the eggs perfectly runny; I, in fact, dipped the crust in the yolk...Know that there was no tomato sauce, just some mozzarella, and a lot of it!
Then, as if we were still hungry, came the second entrée: homemade tagliatelle al sugo di carne or house made tagliatelle with a beef and veal sauce. That was delicious: the tagliatelle were exquisite and the sauce very good, with chunks of meat in it that made this dish both rustic and comforting.
I should mention, before talking about dessert, that I enjoyed the entrees with a glass of Nero d'Avola 2014, a well-rounded wine that was perfect with this last dish.
I enjoyed that wine and was glad to see that Via Vai goes beyond the classic Chianti, proposing a wide selection of wines, all Italian.
So, last was dessert. With the prix-fixe, comes a succulent panna cotta that was perfectly made and not too sweet, a good way to end a delicious meal.
I enjoyed it with an espresso made from this great machine that sits behind the bar, that might be a bit too big for my kitchen...
We definitely had a great meal at Via Vai and enjoyed the conversation with Chef Morichini and Manuel, the manager of the restaurant, two people passionate about what they are doing. What I like about Chef Morichini is its simplicity that translates in his food. Via Vai is definitely a true gem that is worth a trip to Astoria.
Enjoy (I did)!
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