This past weekend, in the shadow of the 7 train tracks above Queens Boulevard, Venturo Osteria & Wine Bar (44-07 Queens Boulevard) quietly announced its soft opening, letting locals who’d been peeking in the doorway come experience a first taste. Venturo–the Italian word for “next”–is the third venture from the Astoria triumvirate who own and operate Vesta–a wine bar and trattoria–and Pachanga Patterson, which serves Mexican food done as restaurant industry-style family meals. “We always planned on opening three restaurants,” explains Giuseppe Falco, co-owner alongside Leo Sacco and executive chef Michelle Vido. “And we’d like to the think of this one as the big brother to the other two.”
The team signed a 10-year lease on the 50-seat restaurant space most recently occupied by Tapenade, and they renovated the address to feature whitewashed exposed brick walls, rustic banquettes, hardwood floors, and a series of high-top tables reminiscent of their other two locations. Artwork is by Manhattan artist Dena Richardson, who also helped design the new space.
Vido’s newest menu is divided into six sections, and produce is sourced primarily from the nearby Brooklyn Grange. Appetizers include a cavolo nero caesar with poached egg, heirloom tomato panzanella, and sausage spiedini. Cheese, all made in-house by Vido, ranges from bocconcini mozzarella to primo sale with olive tapenade, and ricotta with pistachio oil. A thin-crust stracchino pie headlines the pizza section; it’s topped with chanterelles, spinach pesto, and a fried egg.
All breads, pastas, and desserts are also made on the premises under the direction of pastry chef Eve Bergazyn. Pastas range from magenta beet and mascarpone pansotti to a FLOTUS pappardelle–inspired by Obama’s favorite pasta prepared by the First Lady–with shrimp, fresno chiles, and blistered tomato petals. Entrees include pork shoulder Milanese and a giant steak-cut cauliflower, dredged in goat cheese and served over a brown rice puttanesca.
In addition to the à la carte menu, Venturo is debuting a series of Community Dinners intended to feed three to four. The Big Bird features a four-pound Murray’s chicken roasted whole with olive oil, capers, chili peppers, and olives. A pork-on-pork porchetta involves a pork-belly-stuffed pork loin with lentil-stuffed peaches.
The dessert card reprises Vido’s Baby Jesus Cake–a warm date cake soaked in toffee sauce with a quenelle of fresh cream, along with some of Bergazyn’s own creations, including an espresso granita with mascarpone and cacao nibs, toasted almond semifreddo, and rice pudding arancini.
Along with wine on tap, a bottle selection, and craft beers, mixology comes by way of Vesta regular-turned-staff Scott Scaffidi, formerly of Lexington Brass. Specialty cocktails include an Amaro Cup with Campari, fernet, cucumber, mint, and citrus, as well as The Torino with Gran Classico Bitter, prosecco, lemon peel, and a sidecar mini bottle of San Bitter Rosso.
The soft opening continues this week with dinner service from 6 to 9 p.m. Venturo makes its official entrance this Thursday, August 15. Venturo will serve dinner seven days a week from 5 to 10 p.m., with weekend brunch targeted to begin by the end of the month. A backyard patio still under renovation will add an additional 20 seats.
Hit the next page for more photos of Venturo.