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Dining Out: Seafood, Italian standards in Whitstone eatery

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Martha’s Vineyard II

14-27 150th St. Whitestone

767-9890/9789

fax 718 767-3161

Looking for a restaurant in small town USA? Martha’s Vineyard II is for you.

Robert Moses boasted that his Whitestone Bridge would bring the boroughs closer together, but Whitestone still retains its individuality. Four years after the first Martha’s Vineyard opened in swanky 1982 Jackson Heights, Martha’s Vineyard II came to 150th Street, Whitestone’s main drag.

Just a month and a half ago, No. 2 finished renovations. Always known as a good deal, this Italian seafood restaurant is probably an even better deal today. It’s hard to recognize the place with marble below the chair railing, glass bricks and sleek, new stainless steel buffet. (A private party room for 50 behind French doors is upstairs.) Tablecloths are burgundy and the overall effect is a bit somber at this point, waiting for the finishing touches like votive lights and wall hangings. You know how it is when you renovate. It takes time.

Early evening or at luncheon, dining at Martha’s Vineyard II is colorful. Then you can view “Main Street” as the residents stroll along and the cars drive by. Ladder truck No. 167 with a large American flag flying from the rear went North, then returned South as I lunched.

The all-you-can-eat buffet Monday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. was a must for me. I found the offerings impressive. It was seafood plus two chicken dishes: chicken Cordon Bleu was one, my dear, chicken Francese the other. That’s pretty high on the dining scale. The pasta was linguini with white clam sauce, and there were snow crab legs, which prove irresistible to some who dip the cracked legs in butter gleefully. Broccoli was the veggie, red, ripe tomatoes, the salad. And yes, there’s fish fillet as well as peel-and-eat shrimp with cocktail sauce. Add to that hot garlic bread, and wonderful chunks of cantaloupe and honeydew. And all for $12.95 (for a limited time only). Other times you might find mussels from New Zealand, eggplant Parmigiana, fried calamari, seafood kabob, fillet of sole stuffed with crabmeat, stuffed clams or Norwegian salmon. The selection changes daily but always includes salad, bread and fruit of the season.

My dessert was a wedge of cheesecake, the creamy kind, the inch-high kind, with strawberry swirled through in a crumb crust. This is the dessert at Martha’s Vineyard II.

Lunch another day was quite remarkable. I loved it. the hot antipasto was heaped high with seafood goodies: crisp calamari rings, stuffed shrimp, baked clams, fried fillet, breaded zucchini sticks plus a sauce boat of spiced marinara sauce on the side. You couldn’t do better than that. Everything was wonderfully hot and crisp — kudos to the chef. I doggie-bagged the calamari and yes, I’m adding it to a tossed salad.

Tomato, onion and mozzarella salad sounds like more of the usual. Martha’s is not — again, kudos to the chefs. Here the tomatoes are chunked, the onion sliced and halved and mozzarella cut in strips. Then it’s all tossed with a mild, somewhat sweet vinaigrette with garlic and olive oil. This is the way to go. (Home cooks take note.)

Next came a plate of broccoli in garlic sauce (no green beans today) cooked finer than Jacque and Julia in tandem. So fresh, so crisp, and just a perfect bit of garlic and oil. (Home cooks note this, too.)

Soda, beer and wine are served in individual bottles. (Actually given to you. You have to open it and I struggled. But I did like having a tiny bottle all my very own.) It makes two servings.

The combination of Italian and seafood is a natural. And chefs Tony and Sammy handle it beautifully. Martha’s Vineyard II also delivers takeout to Whitestone, Malba, Bayside, College Point, and parts of Flushing. Catering? Yes.

The Bottom Line

Italian seafood restaurant. 43 seats. All-you-can-eat seafood buffet Monday through Thursday. 17 hero sandwiches, many with seafood. Raspberry swirl cheesecake is the dessert.

Chef’s Choice

Hot seafood antipasto (stuffed shrimp, baked clams, calamari, fried fish, fried zucchini)...$7.95

Mixed appetizer platter (fried zucchini sticks, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks and marinara sauce)...$6.95

Fried calamari (hot, medium, sweet sauce)...$6.95

Buffalo wings...$3.95

Angel hair primavera (with shrimp or chicken)...$5.95

Fettuccini Alfredo...$6.50

Martha’s platter (two lobster tails, stuffed filet of sole, & stuffed shrimp)...$16.95

Filet of sole stuffed with crabmeat...$9.95

Shrimp & calamari (hot, medium or sweet sauce)...$9.95

Lobster Tails and Shrimp...$11.95

Fish & chips (no side order)...$5.95

Cheesecake...$1.75

Hours: L & D 7 days

Reservations: Yes

Parking: Street

Dress: Casual

Location: Cross Island Parkway exit 14. Across from post office

Credit cards: All major. No American Express

Children: Own menu (fried shrimp, veal Parmigiana & fries

Private parties: To 50 (private room upstairs)

Takeout: Yes

Off-premise catering: Yes

Smoking: Smoke free

Noise level: Fri & Sat night moderate

Handicap access: Yes

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