DINING OUT: Mangia bene! at Vaccaro’s

Behind the familiar glass-and-wood paneled storefront at 67thStreet and Fort Hamilton Parkway, Ristorante Vaccaro CucinaItaliana is providing the same southern Italian cuisine that localsknow and love, but with a new chef, new wine list and newenergy.

We’re changing the layout, giving a comment card with the checkand trying to increase sales by bringing in people who went awayfrom Vaccaro’s [by] focusing on service and food, said maître d’Giuseppe Sasso, who joined owner Domenic Vaccaro’s nearly30-year-old family business – which includes a pizzeria next door -three months ago and brought along friend Marco as the newexecutive chef.

People have responded very well, said Sasso. We’re bringingback the attention, table by table, plate by plate, person byperson.

Our experience during a recent weekday lunch hour reflected thisdeclaration. The two dining rooms are spacious and light, withwhite linen tablecloths, and frescoed walls. The attentivewait-staff presented an extensive menu of poultry, meats, pastas,seafood, soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts. We opted to tryone a la carte meal and one prix fixe lunch meal ($12.95).

The cold antipasto ($10/$18) is a sumptuous platter of cheeses,charcuterie, and marinated and fresh vegetables including severalvarieties of olives, providing a culinary counterpoint of flavors.The marinated peppers were particularly sumptuous, perfectlybalancing the sharp provolone and the salty prosciutto.

Pollo alla Vaccaro ($19) combines a host of classic Italianingredients in a fresh way. A duo of chicken cutlets is served,topped with prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and shrimp, for apresentation that is as appealing to the eye as it is to thepalate. The sauce is equally inventive, studded with bits ofsundried tomatoes and shitake mushrooms.

Penne Absolute ($12) combines perfectly al dente pasta – toppedwith a single large basil leaf — with a vodka-spiked, tomato saucethat’s sweet but not too rich, perfect either as a first course oras a main dish.

The Tiramisu ($6) was a breathtaking finale, theespresso-flavored mascarpone cream nestled in a ring of ladyfingersinside a parfait glass, and garnished with a sprig of fresh mint.It was rich yet refreshing – impossible to leave even a morselbehind.

The three-course prix fixe options, available Monday throughSaturday from noon to 3 p.m., are just as delicious. For yourappetizer, choose between salad, fried calamari, bruschetta andminestrone; for your entrée, opt from items like RigatoniBolognese, Linguini with White Clam Sauce, Eggplant or ChickenParmigiana, Salmon Oreganata, and Paninis of grilled chicken, porktenderloin or slice ribeye steak.

The minestrone is a huge bowl of hearty pasta and vegetables ina savory tomato broth – a perfect start to a great meal. The Filetof Sole Francese was tender and moist, especially good with lemondrizzled on top and eaten with either a bed of linguini or sautéedmixed vegetables.

For dessert, we opted for the freshly made Italian Cheesecake($5 a la carte) – other options are Cannoli or Tiramisu – which isone of the best Italian cheesecakes we’ve ever tried. Creamy andfirm, yet airy, the cake melts in your mouth and comes with slicedstrawberries and whipped cream.

There is a prix fixe menu available for dinner ($24.95), aswell, with choices that include Eggplant Rollatini, Zuppa diMussels, Chicken Marsala and Pork Tenderloin Saltimbocca. Otherspecials include a half-priced bottle of wine (if under $100) onFriday nights and Italian music on Sunday nights. Also, if theydon’t have what you want on the menu, Vaccaro’s will make itespecially for you as long as they have the ingredients.


6716 Fort Hamilton Parkway

Brooklyn, NY 11219


Sunday through Thursday from Noon to 10 p.m.

Friday and Saturday from Noon to 11 p.m.

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