Via Vai is an Italian eatery located on 31–09 23rd Ave, and the Michelin-recognized Italian experience worth crossing the bridge to Astoria. The chef-owner run operation is helmed by Roman native Antonio Morichini, who has crafted and oversees each individual aspect of the restaurant from the dishes to the wine list and even décor with the help of his wife, Cynthia. Devoted to bringing the real tastes of Italy to New York, Chef Morichini’s menu is an ever-evolving love letter to his homeland, and in particular Rome, infusing his own modern and inventive twists for surprising flavor profiles. Each plate served is beautifully constructed with delicate precision and can be complemented by their impressive, and not to be forgotten, Italian wine list. In Astoria, the husband and wife team have been serving the community for over five years and bring authentic Italian cuisine, wine and hospitality to the forefront crafting an inviting mini vacation with the feel of Italy for its diners.
I immediately felt the quaintness of the restaurant; especially on a Saturday afternoon. My date and I were seated within five minutes and the most amazing focaccia was brought over; freshly baked and paired with a garlic and rosemary-infused olive oil. We devoured and it and more was brought over throughout the meal, which was a welcomed surprise.
I was then served an extremely crisp prosecco (easily the best I’ve ever had) and some Polpette (beef meatballs served in pasta sauce), a fan favorite, was brought over. The meatballs were perfectly cooked and the in-house tomato sauce gave the freshness you’ve come to expect from a high-caliber Italian restaurant. I wanted to try some things that I would usually skip over when I went out for Italian, so I tried the Salmone (House-cured salmon tartare with capers, shallots, avocado and horseradish dressing) and I’m glad I did. Some Cavolo Salad was brought over (arugula, kale, hazelnuts, avocado, green apple, ginger vanilla dressing) and pairing it with the Salmone was a true delight.
For our Secondi, we had a branzino tagliatelle, made with fresh, in-house pasta, black olives, cherry tomatoes and basil. Even if I learned how to make pasta myself, I don’t think I can make pasta quite like this. The taste is truly its own and I can see what all the talk was about. My date enjoyed a Maiale (pork tenderloin prosciutto and sage saltimbocca, with truffle mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus). I managed to sneak a bit or two; Simply divine!
While we ended our feast with tiramisu, Chef Antonio came out the kitchen to have a couple of words with us. He’s a really great guy and you can tell that he is passionate about food and the food business. All the praise this restaurant has received thus far is well-warranted. viavai-ny.com