Manducati Rustica, an offshoot of Manducati's in the Long Island City/Hunters Point area of Queens, is a spot I actually found by chance while cycling through the neighborhood. I had been to the original Manducati's a few years back and enjoyed the old neighborhood charm of the place, the good food, and the inexpensive but extensive wine list. Over the past few years Vernon Boulevard has seen an influx of new bars, restaurants and shops to accommodate the new residents.
Rustica is in a building that from the exterior deceptively projects a small space for a restaurant, but when you enter sprawls from the cafe room with a gelato & Italian pastry counter- to the open kitchen with a brick oven - to the huge dining room complete with couches... feeling more like you're in someone's home.
The wait staff was very knowledgeable and just plain fun, at one point sitting with us for a while just to talk. They don't yet have their alcohol license yet, so we brought our own wines. I would have normally taken tasting notes, but was having so much fun that I didn't have a chance. We enjoyed a Termes Tempranillo 2006 from Spain, 3 Piedmont reds, and an Umbrian Sangiovese.
They specialize in brick oven pizza, but their menu changes daily and we sampled the Burrata, an eggplant dish, the house pasta special, a hat shaped pasta stuffed I believe with mushrooms and ricotta, a great Rib Eye steak, Cod fish, and a fish dish that was shrimp and other shellfish.
I loved the place, the prices were reasonable considering the quality of the food, and it was great to share an evening with good friends. I'm already planning the next visit.
46-35 Vernon Boulevard