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Metropolitan: Metropolitan oozes Old World charm

METROPOLITAN

103-18 Metropolitan Ave.

Forest Hills

544-6847

As we left Metropolitan in Forest Hills, the host/owner arose from his dinner at the bar, met us at the coat rack, and assisted as we struggled into our wet gear. Here was a small, Old World, but endearing gesture.

Metropolitan is a neighborhood restaurant on a thoroughfare lined with an Italian bakery/pastry shop, German chocolate-making endeavor and several thrift shops. Joseph Lodato, who had some restaurant experience in California, opened on Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills just a year ago. He's also a theatrical manager of popular recording artists.

There are other touches that give Metropolitan a come-hither air - and perhaps that's why it was comfortably filled on a snowy Thursday evening. Take the profusion of black and white photos, large and small, of buildings in New York (the old Waldorf Astoria) and Paris (the Metropolitan, of course, their underground), for example.

There are small black and whites of Broome Street and so on, a nice collection and a nice change of pace. Actually it's on the cutting edge now that photography is becoming a respected art form.

Food-wise, I'd like to cite pleasers such as the glass dish of freshly grated parmigiana, set on the table when the pasta is served for you to help yourself. The menu is basically Italian but there are continental touches. Amongst the appetizer listings, you'll find smoked salmon with endive and capers. Specials are where the continental comes in: Salmon with hollandaise sauce, Cornish hens, roast duck. On the menu you'll discover wiener schnitzel alla Holstein.

But when you open the wine list, you notice the six German beers from Franziskaner Club Weisse to Dinkel Acker Pilsner and Beck's. So the schnitzel's in compatible company. The wiener schnitzel was topped the traditional way with egg, abundant anchovies and capers. The eggs, here two, sauteed in a for-two skillet, are done to perfection. Fork into them and just a dab of yolk oozes. (Incidentally, I discovered, doggy-bagged alla Holstein tastes "sehr gut" at room temperature - a new summer dish, the German version of Italy's vitello tonnato.)

Our second entree, a trout special, was a whole one with lemon and rosemary and ample chopped garlic. It looked perky with broccoli and carrot alongside and I must add, the vegetables were deliciously seasoned.

Just because the appetizers haven't been critiqued doesn't mean they weren't top-notch. Linguini alfredo with spinach was inspired with the addition of chopped fresh spinach at the last minute just to warm it, And don't forget that standby parmigiana. ("What is rigatoni filetto sauce?" we asked. "A more highly seasoned marinara," was the reply.)

Roasted peppers, mozzarella and sliced tomatoes featured ultra-fresh mozzarella with a good dressing on the side.

Desserts featured the tried and true: tiramisu, tartufo, cheesecake, chocolate mousse. The tiramisu was wedge-shaped with homemade ladyfingers placed around the edge, but the dryer version, which as you have read before, is not my style.

The international coffees were intriguing and there was a not-your-usual German coffee with a German brandy, asbach uralt. The Irish coffee had Jameson's whiskey and there are those who definitely prefer it made with just the addition of Jameson's.

A light lunch is served on six days at 1 p.m. : salads, omelets (mushroom, cheese, ham and cheese, tomato, onion, and lox and onion, sandwiches (smoked turkey, prosciutto, pastrami, filet of sole, breaded chicken or veal cutlet) hamburgers (bacon and mushroom burger, marinara burger and turkey burger) and pastas. And that's a nice touch as well, a switch from the modified dinner menu.

Snow or no snow, lunch or dinner, Metropolitan seems to be the place to be.

THE BOTTOM LINE

A neighborhood restaurant that pleases. Italian/continental fare. Black and white photos of cities and places. Nice service.

CHEF'S CHOICE

Shrimp Cocktail...$7.50,

Portobello Mushroom...$7.95

Broiled Veal Chop...$18.95

Lobster Fra Diavolo (over linguini on Wed.)...$12.95

Osso Bucco (a big one)...$21.95

Tartuffo...$5

Food: Italian/Continental

Setting: Black & white photos, large and small

Service: Very nice

Reservations: Yes

Hours: Closed Mon. Lunch & Dinner six days

Parking: Street

Location: Between 71st Road & 71st Drive

Credit cards: All major. No Discover.

Take out: Yes

Off premise catering:

Yes Children: Own menu

Private parties: To 50

Noise level: Low

Music: Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Barbara Streisand

Smoking: Area

Handicap access: Yes

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