I’d heard from various friends, colleagues, books and blogs that Vesta is arguably THE best restaurant in Astoria. It’s a bit out-of-the-way, and there are so many great places to eat in Astoria, so after living here for almost two years, Kiyo and I had still never gotten to it.
When we left St. Thomas, on a Tuesday a few weeks ago, we skipped lunch and figured we could each just eat a Johnny cake (similar to fry bread) at the airport before our 3-hour flight (my personal tradition). However, our hearts sank and our stomachs growled when the only restaurant in the airport served the very last Johnny cake to the woman RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME IN LINE, and then informed the rest of us that they had no intention of making more. So, Kiyo and I split an unsatisfying hot dog and fries, and later my last Quest bar. By the time we arrived back in New York and drove out of JFK, we were both famished and craving something real, something good. Since we’d left almost no food in our apartment before the trip, we knew we’d have to pick something up or go sit down. And since we were already in the car, and we take all meals very seriously, I figured it was the perfect time to try Vesta.
The first picture is the appetizer that we split (and devoured in five seconds): baby beets, beet green pesto, pickled stems, roasted garlic yogurt, and candied pistachio crumbs. This dish made me realize that I’ve thought way inside the box when it comes to beets. The pickled stems were perfect, the tangy, thick yogurt with the sweetness of the beets was amazing and the pistachios gave it just a bit of crunch and added another flavor component. I absolutely loved this dish.
We decided to order a pizza and an entrée to split as well; we knew we would want leftovers to take to work the next day, so that we wouldn’t have to worry about shopping or cooking once we finally got home. For our entrée, we chose a pasta special: orrachetti with sausage, cheese and greens (I believe it was chard or kale but I forget). Kiyo ate his half right away, and admitted that he was reluctant to hand it over to me. It was so good he just didn’t want to have to share! I agreed, this was an amazing pasta dish.
The pizza fell a little flat for both of us, especially after the first two exquisite dishes. It was more of a crispy flat bread, and I prefer chewy crust. I did like all the arugula on top, but overall, this was forgettable. It was topped with potato, pancetta (I hardly noticed this, there wasn’t much), caramelized onion, arugula, apple, and goat cheese, all of which went well together but it just didn’t stand out for some reason.
I’d read about the restaurant’s famous dessert, the “Baby Jesus Cake,” so of course we had to get it. Banana ice cream on the side was optional; make sure you order it, it was delicious and the flavor perfectly complemented the cake. I was already full (even though we had more than half the pizza leftover) but I happily ate my half of the cake, which was very dense and sturdy, and tasted like molasses and dates.
Overall, a wonderful meal, but I don’t know if I would award it “Astoria’s Best Restaurant;” there are too many great options to choose just one!
Vesta Trattoria & Wine Bar
Location: 21-02 30th Ave, Long Island City, NY 11102 Phone: (718) 545-5550