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La Dolce Vita: Discover top Italian establishments in western Queens

(Photo from Senso Unico Ristorante in Sunnyside)

July 2023 By Allison Kridle

While western Queens fosters many different cultures, characters and world views, one that has a strong presence in the area is Italian. Whether you’re craving pasta, pizza, a baked good with a strong espresso or even a friendly greeting, you’ll be whisked away to Italy when you patronize these Italian establishments.  

Senso Unico | 43-04 47th Ave., Sunnyside

Senso Unico was established by Sunnyside residents Laura and Vincenzo Garofalo in 2017. While Laura is a first generation Italian-American raised in Astoria, Vincenzo grew up in the town of Paternopoli in southern Italy where his love for cooking and Italian cuisine blossomed from learning about food in his grandfather’s bakery. 

The two business owners wanted to open their doors in Sunnyside because of the “wonderful neighborhood with very nice people” according to Laura. Much like the Sunnyside environment, the Garofalo’s restaurant fosters a family-friendly and authentic dining experience.

Senso Unico’s menu is chock-full of mouth-watering and affordable dishes. They make an array of small bites, antipasti, desserts and mains like grilled salmon and an NY strip steak along with pastas like Ravioli Di Spinaci, Penne Al Pesto and Linguinealle Vongole. 

Photo courtesy of Laura Garofalo

Aida’s Parkside | 18-59 Ditmars Blvd., Astoria

Nestled right by Astoria Park sits Aida’s Parkside, a gelato and coffee shop opened this past June by Astoria local Alden Dzaferovic. Born and raised in the neighborhood, Dzaferovic wanted to contribute to the diverse food scene and “add a sweet touch to satisfy everyone’s palate.”

We serve vegan gelatos with a range of distinctive ingredients. We wanted to accommodate a wide selection of customers. We have a variety of unique flavors and pastries that can satisfy anyone’s cravings. We also offer imported coffees from Italy that pair well with our flavors,” Dzaferovic said.

Aida’s Parkside gelato flavors include Guerrero Mango, Belgian Chocolate, Kula Guava and Kahului Pineapple among many more. 

Photos courtesy of Alden Dzaferovic

Tufino Pizzeria | 36-08 Ditmars Blvd., Astoria

Named to honor his late grandfather who grew up in the small town of Tufino outside of Naples, Italy, Steve Menna opened his pizzeria’s doors in 2012. Growing up in an Italian family, Menna always had a love for pizza and Italian food.  

“Every recipe on my menu comes from someone in my family lineage. The pizza is a creation of mine, and over the years it has evolved and developed into what it is today. It’s a special place for my family and we hope patrons feel at home as if they are family as well. Everything done here is from the heart,” Menna said. 

To maintain their distinctive Neapolitan flavors, Tufino makes their pizzas in a custom Stefano Ferrera wood-burning oven made from volcanic lava ash from Mount Vesuvius. Apart from pizza, the menu contains a handful of antipasti options, pasta dishes and even a section of vegan eats.   

Photos courtesy of Steve Menna

NYSpace Finders | 31-19 Newtown Ave., Astoria

If you’re walking around Astoria, chances are you will pass by a polished building with a NYSpace Finders banner in the window. Local realtor and owner of NYSpace Finders, Luca DiCiero, opened the boutique real estate firm in 2008. While DiCiero was born and raised in Astoria, his parents immigrated from Abruzzo, Italy to Astoria in the 60s. 

“I love the diversity and melting pot in Astoria. I love getting involved with many different social clubs and networks. I can adapt to all different cultures and work for them,” DiCiero said. 

DiCiero’s firm has expanded into Glen Cove and other parts of Long Island and offers properties ranging from luxury apartments to retail spaces and land for sale.

Photo courtesy of Luca DiCiero

Vite Vinosteria  | 31-05 34th St., Astoria

After working at Cipriani downtown Manhattan for over a decade, both Carmelo Bennici and Pinuccio Uras jumped at the opportunity to open their very own authentic Italian restaurant and wine bar, Vite Vinosteria, in July 2014. 

“[We wanted] to have a cozy place with a great wine selection, authentic Italian food experience and attentive service. Pasta and pizzas are prepared from scratch in house, we select our product from Italian vendors and we make sure to have professional staff working with us. For us the customer comes first. That’s what makes Vite a special place,” Bennici said. 

Vite’s menu has everything an Italian foodie could ask for including a decadent board of imported cured meats known as “Salumi,” potato gnocchi with gorgonzola and walnut sauce and their “Tartufata” pizza made with mushrooms, zucchini and gorgonzola truffle cream. 

Photo courtesy of Carmelo Bennici

La Guli Pastry Shop | 29-15 Ditmars Blvd., Astoria

Serving the Astoria Ditmars area since 1937, La Guli Pastry Shop has been run by Maria Notaro and her father Rosario since 2005. The two wanted to keep her grandfather Paolo Nataro’s legacy alive. 

La Guli is family-owned with the original recipes brought from Italy by her grandfather and his brothers, according to Maria. Paolo migrated to New York from Palermo Italy in 1920. Paolo and his brothers opened two Italian pastry shops in Manhattan before venturing to Queens.

All of La Guli’s pastries are made from scratch in-house. They offer custom and special event cakes as well as classic Italian baked goods such as cannolis, biscotti and pignoli cookies. They even make their own Italian ices perfect for a hot summer day. 

Photos courtesy of Maria Notaro

This article was first published in the July issue of BORO Magazine.

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