La Grotta, is a terrific italian restaurant with a warm laid back ambiance, excellent old world italian food and wonderful service. The restaurant has a unique cascading indoor waterfall at the restaurants entrance on northern boulevard which attracts a great deal of attention.
We arrived at La Grotta on a Thursday night, and Marcello, the owner/host greeted us and led us to a comfortable table at the front of the restaurant. Marcello briefly sat with us and discussed the menu, and talked about his early days in the hospitality field. He personally supervised the building of the restaurant and the beautiful indoor waterfall as well as creating fabulous "sight lines" for his clients.
Marcello insisted on setting up a special tasting menu for us after discussing our personal choices in food.To begin our tuscan culinary journey, we were served a basket of fabulous bruscetta, chopped tomatoes, virgin olive oil and thick cut homemade bread. La Grotta's menu is interesting, diverse and unique,as it groups appetizers, entrees, and specials in price categories. There can be 8-10 appetizers all at one reasonable price. Marcello's theory is that it is easier for the diner to order and it also gives each diner the opportunity to choose any item within a category without worrying about price differences. Since we were taking a short "roman holiday" we went with the flow and let Marcello do the choosing.
Our meal began with a creamy bountiful caesar salad which had all the important ingredients: olive oil, eggs, anchovies, and parmesan cheese all blended into one delightful dressing. Our next course is one of my favorites: baked clams orreganate- a plate of large sweet clams covered in a light breading with just the right amount of sauce. These were quickly consumed and tasted like more.
Marcello's choices for entrees were also excellent: We had a magnificent rib eye steak beautifully plated, medium rate with its own juices as the gravy. The large meaty bone was simply awesome. We also shared a large portion of Atlantic salmon- with the meat literally falling onto our forks when cut. Broccoli rabbe, string beans and mashed potatoes were shared for both dishes.
For dessert we shared sorbet and assorted italian pastries. Our meal was perfectly prepared, beautifully served and absolutely delicious. Marcello is rightfully proud of his restaurant, the decor, food and ambiance. He offered me a tour of the kitchen and I accepted. La Grotta is aging very well, and the restaurant is immaculate. All the food served at the restaurant is name brand to assure the quality of each dish. The kitchen was an eye opener in cleanliness and orderliness. Marcello has each component of every dish categorized so that there is a perfect consistency in each meal served. All the stainless steel cabinets are built so that the bottom shelf never touches the ground. to prevent spoilage and infestation. The wine cellar and meat and fish freezer are kept at ideal temperatures to maintain freshness., . Every detail of every meal, & every recipe are all meticulously maintained and examined by Marcello.
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal as well as our interesting conversation and tour with Marcello. La Grotta has built up a terrific word of mouth reputation which the restaurant richly deserves
La Grotta is certainly one of the best Italian restaurants locally and in the city..
La Grotta di Marcello 254-12 Northern Boulevard, Littleneck, New York 11363 tel: 718-224-8899