Reinvented Italian food is the star at Dolce Vita, a casually elegant eatery in Flatlands.
The restaurant, which has been open since January, offers up a full menu comprising both what co-owner George Patsis calls “New Age Italian” and classic dishes that traditionalists may favor, prepared in a kitchen presided over by the restaurant’s other owner, chef Peter Curcio, whose masterful way with food is evident in every dish.
“I’ve lived in the neighborhood for close to 20 years, and I wanted to build a place where people could just gather and hang out,” noted Patsis. “So far, it’s working out — good food, good drinks, good atmosphere, comfortable.”
The menu has grown since Dolce Vita opened, he added. While the eatery always prepared the classics, such as Chicken Parmesan and Veal Francese, on request, they’ve been added to the menu, said Patsis, “So people don’t feel uncomfortable asking for them.”
We opted for a variety of dishes, some familiar, some innovative.
The Mozzarella Carrozza ($10) was comfort food at its best – gooey and melty cheese on the inside, crispy on the exterior, with a lively tomato sauce to dip it into. “Who doesn’t like fried cheese?” my companion asked, as she and I each scarfed down half of the serving.
Certainly not us, and Dolce Vita’s was a standout.
We also made short work of the Asparagus & Artichoke Salad ($12), which came to the table artfully arranged, and was as delicious as it was beautiful, with strips of roasted red pepper and slices of fresh mozzarella balancing out the al dente asparagus spears, artichoke leaves and fresh greens, all in a perfectly balanced dressing.
As a main course, I opted for the Sauteed Lemon Shrimp ($26), served on a bed of risotto flecked with parsley. The shrimp were tender, the sauce was pleasingly tart, and the risotto was creamy, providing a delightful contrast in both texture and flavor.
My companion chose the Bucatini Bolognese ($16) as her main dish. It came out, as ordered, perfectly al dente, bathed in a meaty sauce that was both rich and nuanced.
We really didn’t have room for dessert, but we couldn’t resist, especially when we perused the dessert menu and saw Mascarpone Cheesecake with Hazelnut Caramel Whipped Cream ($9) and Limoncello Cream Pie with Graham Cracker Crumbs and Blueberry Compote ($8).
And, yes, they were as good as they sound – the cheesecake luxuriously creamy with arguably the best caramel I’ve ever tasted, buttery, with a haunting sweetness that lingered on the palate, and the pie deliciously tart-sweet, creamy, rich but not cloying, sending us home satisfied, with smiles on our faces.
5811 Avenue N
Party room holds about 75 people
Tuesday-Saturday, 4-10 p.m.
Sunday, 2-9 p.m.
Live dinner music, Thursday-Saturday in summer