44-07 Queens Boulevard
Sunnyside, NY 11104
(718) 406-9363

Sunnyside has become far more popular among young New Yorkers in recent years than I'm sure many of you would have expected just a few years ago. Its rent is cheaper than most of Brooklyn and anywhere in Manhattan, it's got a lot of restaurants and there's easy access to midtown via the 7 train. I hate the 7 train. Everyone hates the 7 train. Half the time it doesn't work and when it does it's extremely slow and nobody on it speaks a word of English. But should you luck out and find yourself actually moving on it, at least it gets you to Grand Central so you can hop on Metro North and go on vacation far away from it. Anyway, with Myna living in Sunnyside, Queens, I've started spending quite a bit more time here, and recently we made our way over to Venturo, a cozy modern Italian wine bar a few blocks from her apartment. I wanted something that reminded me of Jack & Nellie's back home in Forest Hills. She wanted dinner and some wine and that wasn't a long walk away. Myna had been here at least once before with one of her roommates and they said it was very good, and Venturo had been on my list of restaurants to check out ever since.

I'd always been thinking of Venturo as a wine bar. It has that look. But whether to call Venturo a wine bar or an Italian restaurant or a bistro is really up in the air. They don't have a huge wine list, but they have a nice simple one. They have a cocktail list that's bitters heavy with Italian favorites like Aperol and San Bitter and Campari. They have craft beer. The menu is small. There are about a half dozen each of appetizers, pizzettes, pastas, entrees, and desserts. If you read this blog at all regularly, then you know how much I loathe phone book menus. The oft-proved-accurate mantra that a large menu equals crappier food while a small one means the opposite rang true. The food was fantastic all around (with one small exception that I will get to shortly). Inside, Venturo feels like the perfect quaint neighborhood bistro with its brick and tile walls and dark wood floors and tables. Myna and I wanted to sit next to each other to more easily plan a trip we've been working on, so we pulled up a seat at the bar and ate there. 

 A couple of glasses of wine later, our appetizer, the Italian Sausage Spiedini, a long spicy sausage wound up like a sticky bun and served with an eggplant caponata. The caponata, which is basically the Italian version of ratatouille, served cold, was sweet and delicious. The sausage had a bit of spicy bite to it, wasn't greasy in the slightest, and although I usually like to order two appetizers, the spiedini was the perfect size to share. So far, so good.

 My entree was the Murray's Chicken Breast, a roast chicken breast (bone in) with a side of couscous and pistachios and on top of a yogurt sauce. This was truly fantastic. The breast was pan seared with olive oil and was given an amazing crust. Inside, it was still completely moist. The couscous was, admittedly a tad dry, but with the yogurt and my wine, I didn't much notice. Myna was interested in the Whole Wheat Fettuccine because of the sauce it was in, a mushroom, leek, lemon, and cacio cheese sauce. But neither she nor I are terribly enamored by whole wheat pasta, as it seems like a way to con people into thinking that they're eating healthy food while still giving them pasta. So she asked to substitute the pappardelle from another dish and they did just that. And it was great, too. So no harm, no foul.

Okay, so what, you ask, was the one exception to our otherwise perfect meal? It was our side dish. Dark green vegetable lover that I am, I couldn't bear for my dinner's vegetable to be couscous. So I ordered the Swiss Chard Agrodolce, sauteed chopped Swiss chard. Like most dark leafy greens, Swiss chard shrinks dramatically when it's cooked and it really needs to drain well or it will soak the plate it sits on. This was served in a bowl and it was like chard soup at the bottom. Plus, if you don't fanatically love black pepper, then avoid this at all costs because it was bathed in black pepper. If I didn't know any better, I'd have assumed that, during the cooking, someone knocks a tin of it into the pan by mistake. I won't get this again.

Still, this one small thing aside, we had a great meal and you can be rest assured that I'll return.

Three drinks, one appetizer, two entrees, tax, and tip came to $100 even.

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