DINING OUT: Chef Andrea is perfetto!
Located on Thirteenth Avenue, Chef Andrea Digregorio brings his Manhattan restaurant expertise to Dyker Heights.
Digregorio ran the famed Canastels on Park Avenue and was a top cook at Campagnola before he opened Chef Andrea five years ago. He was named Chef of the Year every year between 1996 and 2000 by Tempo DItalia magazine and its no surprise why.
The fresh mozzarella is made on the premises, roasted peppers are simply cooked in fire, the rigatoni is homemade and no salt is ever added.
The secret of the chef is the freshness and quality, Digregorio said.
Although the menu comprises mostly northern cuisine and dishes are often cooked Tuscan-style, Digregorio does take requests. He recalled one time when a New Jersey customer asked for a Neapolitan dish that he did not know the recipe for. After a quick phone call to a friend, he prepared the meal.
In the kitchen, you always learn something new, he said.
I started off with a Caprese Salad (ask server for price). The tomatoes and basil tasted perfectly fresh and paired well with the creamy mozzarella, which Digregorio made himself.
Next, I tried a plate of roasted peppers and olives (ask server for price). These are not the vinegary peppers that you usually are served. Digregorio roasts the peppers himself over an open flame and no extra seasoning is needed. You can taste the smokiness.
The Fennel Salad (ask server for price) had a very unique flavor, served with mandarins, walnuts and a citrusy vinaigrette. The mishmash of sweet and nutty flavors paired with the crunchiness of the fennel was a treat for the taste buds.
Next came an Arugula Salad, with strawberry dressing, apples, fresh mozzarella chunks and almonds (ask server for price). The sweet, crispy apples blended with the soft, mild cheese.
Rigatoni all Ciociara ($14) was almost sinful, made with homemade rigatoni, Sunday sauce, fresh ricotta, cherry tomatoes and grilled chunks of eggplant. The Sunday sauce tasted just like my dear old dads and Digregorio told me why. He first fries meatballs, beef bracciole, sweet and hot sausages, pork skin and pork spare ribs, then adds the meats to the sauce, which simmers for hours.
Last, but not least, was the Roasted Chicken ($15). Digregorio pounds chicken breasts and cooks them with artichoke hearts, caramelized onions, gorgonzola cheese and a Marsala wine sauce and serves it with sautéed spinach. The chicken is juicy and the flavors meld together so well, its rich without being overwhelming.
I was too stuffed to try them, but Chef Andrea has an extensive dessert menu. Cannoli, tiramisu, Italian cheesecake, chocolate mousse cake, orange and lemon sorbet, spumoni, tortoni, tortufo, and pumpkin, hazelnut, lemon and chocolate chip gelato are available for $6, if you have room.
7312 Thirteenth Avenue
Open seven days a week
Saturday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Sunday from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Catering and party room available
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