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Manducatis: Italian home favorites specialty of this house

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MANDUCATIS

13-27 Jackson Ave.

Long Island City

phone: 729-98845/4602

fax: 361-0411

Vincenzo Cerbone, proprietor of Manducatis with his wife/chef Ida, considers it "a beautiful experience." He enjoys being with his family and serving "beautiful people," which is how he describes his customers.

He also admits to being an optimist. But hey, Manducatis, their second restaurant venture, has prospered on the corner of Jackson and 47th avenues since 1978 - 21 1/2 years.

Manducatis started small with one room, which is now a bar with small round tables. It's since been enlarged with the addition of two comfortable dining rooms. One has brick walls and an old upright piano decked with wine bottles as well as a cooler stocked with a collection of Vincenzo's favorite wines from all regions of Italy.

Both rooms have lace curtains and large fireplaces which add to a pleasing note even in spring-like April. It's not razzle dazzle Italian but homey, real Italian.

The exterior might very well be described as unpretentious - a description Vincenzo himself uses.

Ida was born in Naples where she grew up watching her mother make pasta. (Vincenzo hails from Cassino.)

At lunch when you scan the dining rooms filled with diners who seem to be the type who enjoy good food, pasta is on almost every plate.

The menu features pasta with garlic and anchovies, spaghetti with tomato sauce, or sausage or meatballs, or garlic and oil or carbonara. There's pasta with broccoli and marinara sauce. Penne alla punttanesco. Linguine with clam sauce or mussels (white or red). Stuffed shells, manicotti, cannelloni, lasagna. Fettuccine bolognese (meat) sauce or as a special with veal.

It is good to be reintroduced to bolognese. Before pasta passion hit, it was the standard along with marinara. Here, on the corner of Jackson Avenue, I found it nicely done with veal, pignoli nuts and peas.

And if all these pastabilities are not enough, a list of other possiblities was recited by the waitress. Our second pasta selection was sun dried tomatoes and slivered portobello in a creamy sauce. Delicious.

Ida's homemade fettucini cooked "to the teeth" must take credit in both the bolognese and sundried tomato versions. P.S. At dinner there's ricotta gnocchi, too.

While we waited for our pasta, we shared the incredibly delicious Manducatis cold seafood platter. It's a feast of clams on the half shell, mussels, calamari and scungilli in a tasty, light vinaigrette heaped on three gargantuan garden lettuce leaves.

The accompanying bread snuggled in a napkin lined basket was hot and delicious. I just wish I could have sampled the antipasto di casa. It looks like another winner.

At Manducatis, the house salad is brought to the table with oil and vinegar cruets for you to dress your own - a refreshing and a now too seldom done option.

Another plus - there's a choice of four kinds of cheese on the menu - bel passe, ricotta salata, provolone and fontina - as an accompaniment to a glass of wine, the salad or before or instead of dessert.

We had heard that the cannoli were excellent here. The quest for the very best tiramisu and the best cannoli is ongoing in the life of a food critic. Here the creamy filling for the deep brown cannoli shells gets high marks.

Applause too for their fresh approach to a frozen dessert. Picture an almond flavored biscuit tortoni, bottoms up on a full-flavored frozen raspberry base, then add a coating of dark chocolate over all.

If you like your cappuccino mild you'll be very happy here. Ditto if you crave more than a thimble full of espresso.

For those interested in a meat entree, you may chose from pork chops, veal chops, chicken several ways and veal four ways plus eggplant parmigiana.

Fish entrees include shrimp (try shrimp alla Ida), calamari and scungilli and fresh fish prepared with livornese, oreganata, manducatis or butter sauce.

I'm optimistic that you'll enjoy a meal at Manducatis.

THE BOTTOM LINE

More than 21 years of serving Italian home favorites. Comfortable, laid-back setting. Seasoned services.

CHEF'S CHOICE

Mozzarela di Bufola...$7

Eggplant alla Napoletana...$6.50

Grilled Pork Fillet....$13.50

Pappardella and Beans...$14

Veal Chop with Sauce Anthony...$16-$22

Tiramisu...$5

Cannoli...$5

Food: Italian

Setting: warm Italian

Service: Seasoned

Reservations: Yes

Hours: Mon.-Fri. D 7 Days

Location: Corner of 47th Ave. and Jackson Ave.

Parking: Street

Dress: Casual

Credit cards: All major. No Discover.

Children: Share

Private parties: sometinmes to 50

Noise level: Semi-quiet. Depends on number of people.

Handicap access: Yes

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