It all started in Bayside 21 years ago as "deli and catering." Now it's "Peter's Ristorante & Caterers. Add to this a pizza parlor tucked in between the restaurant and catering hall. It's run by Paul, Peter's son. All in all, the Damiano family (wife Lucille is catering manager) will be entering the new millennium with an impressive track record.
Actually, it goes back further to Peter's first job. a deli on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. After a stint in Vietnam, he worked in Astoria and opened a delicatessen and catering business there. When the lease was lost, he headed for Bayside and took over a place that had ten previous owners.
The look of Peter's restaurant today is Old World (the restaurant) and its catering hall is New World. When the restaurant opened in 1998, replacing the deli, its look was reminiscent of old buildings in Tuscany; it was the look you would expect in an avant garde spot in Soho or Noho. This was achieved after a long and dusty process of plastering, scraping, coloring, repeating the process, then adding a final waxing and polishing with patches of the bare wall. The effect is stunning. It has the look of Manhattan's "in" dining spots; most unexpected in a small establishment on our side of the East River. The catering hall has a post-dinner, club-like aura. White walls with black carpeting encircle the bare wood dance floor. There are also mirrors with tiny lights which illuminate the room after the buffet hour is past, as the room darkens and background music heats up.
The cuisine in the restaurant we found, is both Northern and Southern Italian. (Note that on the catering menu, the choice wisely is eclectic, ranging from: sliced roast beef with mushrooms; kielbasa with sauerkraut; honey dipped fried chicken; barbecued ribs (pork); barbecued chicken; honey dipped chicken; and tripe plus a full range of Italian favorites.
Our dinner began with di pesce, a seafood salad of shrimp, calamari, scungilli and mussels in virgin olive oil, lemon (lots of it) and herbs. (Actually, seafood with a shred or two of greens.) What more could you ask for? It's for two, sharing antipasto. We also shared Inslata Damiano: crisp Romaine lettuce, radicchio and iceberg lettuce tossed with provolone cheese, sliced red onions, plum tomatoes and served in an Italian dressing. So good! Only later did we realize that fresh mozzarella was to have been part of the toss. The accompanying rolls, we must add, were excellent. I shouldn't have, but I ate two. My guest's veal dish special made an excellent impression on our taste bauds. Two slices of veal scallopine, each perched on a very thin eggplant slice, sat side by side on the dinner plate surrounded by a light tomato sauce. A broiled tomato wedge capped each. Here was a simple presentation. As for its taste; it was delicious. A plate of spaghetti in sauce accompanied the dish. Another "special" was my delight: a bit, just a bit, of lasagna, in the juices of fresh plum tomatoes with fresh garlic, topped every inch with clams anf mussels, shrimps, scallops and calamari in the shell, bristling like a deep sea version of a porcupine. It is just one of the two dozen pasta and pasta alforno dishes (ravioli, stuffed shells, manicotti and lasagna) that Peter makes.
The desert choice wasn't difficult. All through dinner we viewed a table-top display card that pictured Peter's version of tartuffo. On top of the chocolate coated ball of vanilla ice cream was a smaller chocolate ball of chocolate ice cream. The cannoli are freshly baked and filled at the last minute. Cherry amaretto gelati sounds good to me, that's my choice for next time. We both had espresso. After our rather elegant repast, it seemed the best way to go. All of the dishes served in the restaurant may be ordered off the menu in the pizza parlor with a glass of wine.
As for pizzas, two intrigue me tremendously: Grandma's has mozarella, flavored bread crumbs and red onions. The baked pasta pizza is just that; a choice of pasta or rice, ricotta, mozzarella, fresh tomato sauce and fresh basil. What a long way pizza has come. What a long way Peter's has come!
Fine Northern and Southern Italian in Peter's ristorante. Ditto (plus American menu selections) in its club-like catering hall. Recently renovated.
Isalata di Pesce (seafood salad of shrimp, calamari, scungilli, mussels in virgin olive oil, lemon & herbs)...Serves two... $13.95
Hot antipasto (baked clams, shrimp oreganata, eggplant rollatini, stuffed mushrooms and mussels.) Serves two... $12.95
Orchiette Bolognese (served in traditional Bolognese meat sauce)... $10.95
Rigatoni con Pollo Gigilia (grilled chicken with sauteed spinach, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes in wine & garlic sauce).. $ 13.95
Pollo Scarpiello (boneless chicken sauteed with peppers, mushrooms, sliced sausage and garlic, served with spaghetti and mixed vegetables) ...$12.95
Pesce Fra Diavalo (clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari and scungilli in a spicy, light marinara sauce)...$18.95
Cherry Amaretto Gelato ... $4.95
Food: Northern & Southern Italian
Setting: Old World restaurant, new world nightclub catering
Service: Very nice
Hours: Lunch and dinner, seven days
Location: Between Northern Blvd and LIE
Credit: All major
Dress: Neat casual
Children: Pizza from adjoining parlor
Catering: Yes, off premises
Private parties: Ten to 150. Dinner parties 10 to 50
Noise level: Quiet
Handicap accessible: Yes
Private parties: Up to 125
Smoking: Bar area
Noise level: Acoustic ceiling
Handicap accessible: Yes
©1999 Community News Group
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