An Italian Family Feast at NYC’s Senso Unico

A few weeks ago, my family made the trip to Sunnyside, Queens for a night out on the town. Sunnyside isn’t an entirely new experience for us as we are huge fans of a Thai restaurant located here called Sri Pra Pra. Still, seeing that we live in Westchester, exploring the boroughs is always fun and a real treat. We love to eat and experience new places, particularly family-friendly ones, so when an invite came to experience Senso Unico, an Italian Osteria, I jumped.

Owned by chef/Owner Vincenzo Garofalo and wife Laura, natives of Avellino, Italy, Senso Unico stands on a quiet corner in the heart of Sunnyside. It’s a small, welcoming neighborhood kind of restaurant where locals probably head to every weekend for a dish or two of authentic Italian food. We were there on a Saturday night, and it was pretty crowded. so I’m happy to say that word has gotten out how good the food is (take that as a hint to book a table in advance).

We were very welcome as soon as we walked through the door and felt a real sense of authenticity. We somehow knew we were in for a legit Italian meal. It’s a very low-key space with local art on the wall. We were served by Laura herself, who told us that the restaurant was relatively new, and she and her husband hail from Italy. The chef studied at Michelin-starred Antica Osteria Nonna Rosa and Il Pellicano. After arriving here, he went on to further develop his talents with the Maccione family at Siro Ristorante in The Pierre Hotel and Le Cirque.

We opted to try a few starters and main courses to get a real lay of the land. With my aversion to shellfish (for Kosher reasons) and pork, it ruled out a few things so we tried Carpaccio de Carne, thinly sliced seared rib-eye, arugula, lemon and shaved Parmesan cheese, a special appetizer made of crispy polenta, burrata, and arugula, and fried baby artichoke Cacio e Pepe. It was fairly obvious after our starters that we were in for a unique dining experience.

And dinner only got better as pasta reigns supreme at Senso Unico. We had Fusilli Avellinesi, a dish from the chef’s hometown of Avellinmade with the freshest spiral pasta and dressed in a tomato-truffle sauce.  We also tried Rigatoni Napaleonan Bolognese, which is traditional beef ragu, and Fettuccine al Pesto made of basil pesto and tomatoes. Other main dishes include Calamarata Ai Frutti di Mare, a plate of ring pasta, clams, mussels, calamari and shrimp, in a lobster and tomato sauce, Cuoppo, a light and crispy dish with fried fresh calamari, shrimp and vegetables with a fresh snap, served with a spicy aioli, Parmigiana di Melanzane, a traditional eggplant parmigiana with homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil. Hungry yet? I am, just thinking about it.

Our selection of dessert was equally decadent. We tried Beer Tiramisu (yes, made with real beer but you hardly taste it in all its deliciousness),  Deconstructed Napoleon, stacked with layers of crispy filo dough, ricotta mousse, Amarena cherries and pistachios, and Torta Della Nonna, a vanilla custard dessert. Our tastebuds and belles were in explosion mode.

Aside from the food, Laura’s personal touch and friendliness made the night and her antidotes about the chef and food, which she clearly knows a lot about. For my family, the restaurant was a big win, with its emphasis on pasta and the yummy dessert. I have a feeling we’ll be back soon.

Check out Senso Unico’s menu here. Here are the deets:

Senso Unico Restaurant
43-04 47th Avenue
Sunnyside, NY 11104 

(347) 662-6101

Monday – Closed
TuesWed, and Thursday 4pm-10pm
Friday 12pm-11pm
Saturday 12pm-11pm
Sunday 12pm-10pm

Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary meal to facilitate this review and others, but all opinions are my own.

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