UPDATE: Pasticcio Atlas Park has CLOSED
80-28 Cooper Avenue
Glendale, NY 11385
(718) 417-1544

It took about a quarter of a billion bucks, but the old Atlas Park plant has become The Shops at Atlas Park, a suburban-styled outdoor mall with two floors of stores and restaurants built around a central, parklike courtyard and fountain. Atlas Park is a beautiful place, but it's also a bit of a mystery to me. I initially felt it had a European architectural feel, but I think another blogger hit the nail on the head with her description of it as coming straight out of Palm Beach. Either way, it clearly wants to be a mall that caters to high-end consumers (it has the only Amish Market in Queens). But it's in the middle of the average Joe neighborhood of Glendale, which if you didn't already know, is home to neither mansions nor high-rise doorman condos. It's both too small and too inconvenient to lure Manhattanites who can get most of the shops here over there. As for Long Islanders, same thing. But I'm glad it's here, since it really is very, very nice. Hopefully, it's a sign a things to come rather than an odd duck development.

Up on the second floor is Pasticcio, an old-fashioned Italian restaurant that has its roots in Murray Hill. Walking in, Pasticcio has done very well in re-creating the feeling its original restaurant has for this branch. The walls are covered in Italy-themed wallpaper. This sounds tacky, even as I sit here writing it, but it doesn't look tacky in person. Kitchy, perhaps. But not tacky. Up a wrought-iron staircase, over the front entrance and behind glass doors is the wine room. The ceilings are very high, so no matter where you sit, you can see the wine collection. The indoor dining area is divided into two parts. In the main floor area where you walk in is where the largers parties will be. When Speeds and I ate here, there was a party of at least 20. Over by the windows the floor is raised up a few steps and here's where most of the tables for two and four are. There's also a good amount of outdoor seating.

I was immediately greeted very warmly by the maitre d'. I had to wait a bit for Speeds, who had gotten herself lost in a bathroom somewhere, so I put my name down and just gave the woman a vague time of when I hoped I'd be back. No problem. We even got to sit outside, which was what I was hoping for, since it was about 80 degrees that day and the evening was shaping up to be really nice. Our table was in the corner and overlooked the manicured courtyard with its fountain and trees all lit up with mini-bulbs. The music that was played was far from the stereoypical Italian stuff one might get elsewhere. It was really chill and funky and lent a nice twist to the atmosphere. The cloth napkins and umbrella were a good addition.

It seems to be a growing trend among restaurants to hold off on the bread until after you order. I guess they want to keep you hungry so you don't order less. And sure enough, once we ordered, the bread came. Very good bread. A variety basket with thick Italian bread perfect for soaking up olive oil and balsamic vinegar and two kinds of focaccia. Speeds wasn’t in the mood to drink, and I wasn’t in the mood to drink alone, so we skipped the vino and just stuck with colas. Our sodas came, we thought one last time about what we wanted, and then ordered… and it was pretty much downhill from there.

Speeds started with the Misticanza, a mixed-greens salad with carrots, tomato, cucumber, a red wine vinaigrette, and sheep’s cheese. She thought it was pretty good, and having sampled it, I’d have to agree. But then again, it’s a mixed-greens salad. Making a bad mixed-green salad is so hard to do that making one borders on malicious. I ordered the Zuppa di Cozzi, which I was told was a shrimp bisque with mussels. According to Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, a bisque is a cream-based soup, typically with seafood. Now I’ll be the first to admit that this edition was published in 1976, and that there have been a lot of changes to the lingo since disco was king. But I’m pretty sure a definitional shift of bisque hasn’t been one of them. This was more of a tomato vegetable soup with some seafood in it. Anyway, the soup was okay. Not great. It was kinda bland and for a shrimp soup, it would have been nice if there were some more shrimp in it. This was one of their “specials”, which means you probably can’t get it.

Speeds ordered the Pasticcio di Ravioli, a combo of two kinds of ravioli, one braised veal and the other shitake mushroom, in a light pink sauce. Speeds loves ravioli and while she thought that these were okay, she thought that they were a little on the stiff side. I don’t eat veal, but taking a mushroom one, I agreed. Definitely undercooked. Olives’ butternut squash ravioli is the standard by which I judge all other ravioli. They’re perfectly smooth, perfectly cooked, perfectly proportioned. These did not meet the standard.

The entrée I ordered was the Pollo con Salvia, a chicken breast with mushroom, asparagus, sun-dried tomato, and sage in a red wine sauce served with mushrooms and garlic mashed potatoes. My problem with this dish was the red wine sauce and the chicken covered in it. The garlic mashed potatoes and mushrooms were very good. In fact, I could see a braised steak dish with those as well-placed, delicious sides. The vegetables were similarly well done. The thing is, the red wine sauce was just too overpoweringly strong to allow you to taste much, and the vegetables were under the sauce. Meanwhile, the chicken, which was butterflied to make it thinner, was then cooked for too long and got kinda tough and rubbery and lost all of its moisture.

Speeds wanted to stay and get dessert here, but I already had it in my head to try out two new places today. Pasticcio here was one, and the other was the also-brand-new Martha's Country Bakery on Austin Street (coming soon). The waiter came and we asked for the check.

So let's talk about service. For starters, Speeds and I had great service, at least until the time came to pay. Then it seemed as though the waiter and my credit card got sucked into a black hole. But other than that, we got our menu right away, we got our drinks right away, we got our appetizers and entrees promptly, and there always seemed to be some guy coming around to full our glasses with water. The people around us, though, had some problems. Twice other customers got spilled on. The guy sitting beside us got the wrong order and the folks right behind us apparently were waiting and waiting and waiting for the menu, then their drinks, and then their food. They were unhappy. These errors, and the little insignificant ones that we had, seemed like sloppy mistakes due to what appeared to be a lack of communication between who was doing what and when and to whom. My guess is it'll clear up in time.

Our meal came to $52, plus tax and tip.

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