21-02 30th Avenue, Astoria

Rarely does a new restaurant in my neighborhood of Astoria excite me as much as Vesta has. Italian restaurants, in particular, tend to be mediocre in quality, with the same standard, boring offerings. Maybe I’m jaded because I have a wife of Italian heritage who can seemingly throw together any five ingredients with some noodles and pop out an excellent dinner? Whatever the reason is, since my first bite of dinner at Vesta, I cannot stop thinking about this fantastic new trattoria, on a less than stellar thoroughfare in West Astoria. Situated on the corner of 21st Street, Vesta’s nearby competition is a sub-par Filipino place, a White Castle and a McDonald’s. But Vesta would be a star in any area. The owners are from the neighborhood and this is their baby. They provide the warm welcome, order the local ingredients, and find the local artwork that decorates their homey place.

They obviously take pride in their menu as well. They offer classics like lasagna and meatballs, which are slow cooked and delicious, as well as small plates of greenmarket vegetables, steaks and delicious thin-crust pizza. We had the roasted eggplant pizza with charred onions, tomato & ricotta salata. The eggplant was tender, the flavors melded well, and the crust was cracker-thin – and it was only $10. We also enjoyed the cavatappi with spicy roasted cauliflower, parmigiano, bread crumbs, which is basically a gourmet mac & cheese. The portions are big, the menu is creative, the ambiance is nice, the staff is warm, and the prices are reasonable. It’s no wonder I can’t stop thinking about returning to Vesta for their brunch pizza, which everyone is raving about.