Restaurant of the Week
Celebrating 27 years in Astoria, Sac’s Place is the place for classic, family-recipe, Italian cuisine, a great selection of wines and cocktails, and some of the last remaining coal oven pizza in New York City. Brothers Anthony and Domenico Sacramone have maintained their commitment to quality, offering their family’s time-honored dishes from the Abbruzzo region of southern Italy to the Astoria community in which they grew up. Flanked by mountains and sea, Abruzzo is noted for its unique and flavorful cuisine based on simple, fresh ingredients including pasta, fish, meat and chicken. A friend’s farm in Pennsylvania provides much of the produce served here, brought in fresh, cooked to order and served bursting with flavor. I always look forward to a meal at Sac’s Place, and you will too.
Start with a freshly mixed cocktail such as the Sac’s Negroni, Manhattan, Old Fashioned, or Cosmopolitan to sip on while you nibble on the hot-from-the-oven focaccia and ponder the menu. Each day the specials are prepared based on what’s fresh from the garden, the sea, or the land. Verdant, al dente asparagus came to us wrapped in paper-thin slices of prosciutto, making these bundles almost too pretty to eat. Sunny yellow peppers are filled with sausage, rice, and mozzarella for a summertime treat. So is buttery mozzarella, arranged with sliced tomatoes and basil, drizzled with fine olive oil for the classic Caprese salad. We shared a half dozen baked clams which were fresh and delicious with plenty of garlicky, buttery sauce for dunking warm bread into. The same goes for the mussels, swimming in a heavenly broth of white wine and garlic, or marinara sauce. Even the kids will love the fried zucchini sticks, straight from the farm. Kids (and adults) will also love the pizza too, which is another great way to start your meal. Order a small pie, served bubbling with a light, crispy crust so you can sample Sac’s Place’s legendary coal oven pizza, traditional style or topped with your favorites.
Sac’s Place makes a nice variety of handmade pasta according to Mamma Madalenna’s recipe from the old world. My friend enjoyed the lobster and crab filled ravioli in a light cream and brandy sauce. Those tender ravioli are also available with spinach filling or smoked mozzarella and roasted pepper. You must try the “lighter than air” gnocchi, topped with a creamy sauce of four cheeses, or the family recipe; tomato ragu. Linguine with red or white clam sauce is a popular choice at Sac’s Place, as is the spinach fettuccine with shrimp, garlic and olive oil ($18.95). One of my favorite dishes is the shell pasta with broccoli rabe, sausage, garlic and oil, a simple, pleasant dish with loads of flavor. There are always vegetarian pasta dishes here too, brimming with fresh vegetables and beans. Here’s the best part…Sac’s Place pasta and entrees are available in full or half orders, which makes sampling and sharing better than ever. The half orders are the perfect way to taste more dishes in the same visit. They should make longer forks so that you can reach over to your companion’s dish!
Entrées include the best in meat, fish, and chicken. My veal Antonio was fork tender, served scaloppine style with artichoke hearts, roasted tomatoes, and mushrooms in a light, herb-scented Pinot Grigio sauce. My friend’s chicken Napoletana was layered with prosciutto, eggplant, and mozzarella in a lemony Francese sauce. Both of us chose half orders and so we got to sample each other’s dishes, long forks notwithstanding. There’s also veal or chicken Marsala with sweet wine, or sweet sausage with peppers and onions “San Gennaro” style.
Fresh fish at Sac’s Place is chosen every day. The evening’s specials featured filet of wild salmon, pan seared in Marsala wine and mushrooms, and filet of north Atlantic cod sautéed with capers and green olives and a touch of tomato. Just next to us, a woman was devouring a generous Caesar salad topped with enormous grilled shrimp while her husband dug into a heaping plate of “Frutta di Mare:” a seafood feast of jumbo shrimp, mussels, Little Neck clams, and calamari in a spicy marinara sauce. Envious? Come and get your own!
The service at Sac’s Place is excellent, delivered by veteran waiter Milton and the team. Try to at least share a dessert because there’s Dorothy’s Ohio award-winning apple pie a la mode (7 years winner), along with Chef Domenico’s Mississippi mud pie, Tuaca sundae with sautéed bananas and Mamma’s pizzelle ice cream sandwich.
As the menu says, “Life’s too short to eat anywhere else.” First and foremost, Sac’s Place is a family restaurant, run by family, serving families. You’ll taste the love and quality ingredients that go into every delicious dish and pizza at Sac’s Place. Sac’s Place is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner until 11pm weeknights and midnight on weekends with free delivery. They’re just a 3-minute walk from the N/Q train. On-site and off-site catering is available. Soon, a small outpost of Sac’s Place will open in Jackson Heights offering pizza, calzones, heroes, and hot rolls filled with chicken, sausage, broccoli, or spinach at 86- 14 37th Avenue