Manducatis has been a Long Island City stalwart almost uninterrupted since 1959. No one is saying it’s the City’s best Italian. But there is still something fun about walking through its non-descript door and into the cascading dining rooms that each feel like secrets. Development may have infiltrated Long Island City, but Manducatis’ owners, the Cerbones, have made their own progress in the past two years. Namely, when their daughter, chef Gianna Cerbone opened her Italian café nearby: Manducatis Rustica.
There is a doll-house, but thrown together quality to Rustica’s decor. An old oven. Mismatching chairs. Brick walls. There’s a large open doorway to the kitchen. The layout takes a cue from Manducatis, with a working fireplace in the back of the first dining room.
You may have heard about their celebrated calzone, a sauce-covered $15 behemoth described as “a pizza folded over on itself.” But there’s also a list of brick-oven, Neapolitan-style pizzas. The eponymous pizza pie, the Rustica ($13), is dressed with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and a healthy pile of fresh arugula.
“The eponymous pizza pie, the Rustica ($13), is dressed with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and a healthy pile of fresh arugula.”
The dough is chewy and pliable, if not necessarily very crisp. You could see how it would make for a good calzone. For dessert, there’s fresh gelato, and cannolis done the right way — plain or chocolate-dipped but filled to order. Now that’s Italian…American.
46-33 Vernon Boulevard
Long Island City, NY 11101
Phone: (718) 937-1312
This post was originally published March 8th, 2010, on the now-defunct, James-Beard Award-nominated blog AlwaysHungryNY.com.