LEVANTE | Queens Gazette
Levante opened in Long Island City in 2017 by partners Eden Tesfamariam and Tony D’Aiuto. Part of the Stella Hospitality Group, Levante offers cool and casual dining, fabulous wood-fired pizzas, signature cocktails and classic Italian dishes with an innovative twist prepared by Roman chef Marco Incerti. The good food, service and ambiance guarantee a memorable meal and a taste of ‘La Dolce Vita’.
Levante is housed in a historic building on Jackson Avenue, once owned by the Bloomingdale family, and still retains its original steel and wood beams and exposed brickwork. The sleek, winding bar invites you into the spacious dining room and the 1000 square foot garden patio at the back allows for safe and airy dining. There is also outdoor seating up front and a ‘private party’ room which is now used for more socially distant seating to safely accommodate guests.
A visit to Levante is like a trip to Italy, starting with one of their signature cocktails, all made with real Italian spirits. The Levante Mule is mixed with Amaro Montenegro, lime juice and ginger beer, while the Americano is tossed with cucumber vodka and Cocchi Americano spirits. With names like “Frida”, “Anasso”, “Margarosa” and “Manhattan in Queens”, you can’t go wrong with any of them. Of course, the wine list offers the best vintages at reasonable prices to accompany your meal.
Our friendly waitress, Nicole, brought us a homemade focaccia, hot from the wood-fired oven and sprinkled with sea salt and fresh rosemary. The Italian oven sizzles and sparkles with fresh pies all night long for delivery, pickup and dinner. Levante Pizza is their signature pie topped with fresh mozzarella, oven-roasted mushrooms, truffle pate, prosciutto, buratta cheese and delicate herbs and served hot and crispy from the oven to your table ($ 23). Vegetarian pizza like Quattro Formaggi includes four cheeses and herbs, while Aglietta is topped with mozzarella, tomato sauce, roasted garlic, and shaved Parmesan. You can even order a take out or delivery pizza kit and “make it yourself” which is a great activity with your kids or friends. Levante’s aperitifs are generously sized, beautifully presented and bursting with the wonderful flavors of Italy. Arancini are tasty rice balls made with pearly arborio rice and cheese, gently fried to a golden finish ($ 12). Vitello Tonnato is a classic Italian appetizer of finely sliced veal that melts on your tongue, garnished with capers and served with its signature sauce. It’s a dish I’ve never seen in restaurants here, so order it and enjoy something unique. Polpettes are homemade meatballs in the chef’s special recipe sauce. Soak them in hot focaccia and share a platter of grilled squid stuffed with roasted cauliflower, bread, tomato and black olives. Vegetarian minestrone soup is filled with vegetables in a rich broth. Insalata di ruchetta is a mound of fresh and spicy arugula dressed in lemon vinaigrette, topped with shaved Parmesan to go perfectly with any meal. You will also find a kale salad, an endive or Caesar salad. The Levante pasta is all handmade and made to order, so a short wait pays off. The ravioli are exceptional, made with berries in the batter and stuffed with Jerusalem artichokes, topped with a rich duck stew. This comforting dish is both familiar and yet wildly unexpected. Rigatoni is topped with three meats: back ribs, meatballs and sausage, slowly cooked to create this rich and flavorful sauce ($ 24). All’Amatriciana spaghetti is made with tomato sauce cooked with “guanciale” beef cheeks for an even more special flavor and texture ($ 21). The homemade gnocchi are coated with aromatic pesto and candied cherry tomatoes.
The secondi or second platters include grilled filet mignon, cooked to order and served with butternut squash, roasted Brussels sprouts and shitake mushrooms. Seared halibut flakes with the touch of your fork, served with zucchini, seaweed salad and pickled shallots. Seared salmon is another popular dish with roasted tomatoes, kale, and black quinoa ($ 25).
Desserts from Levante are extraordinary creations. Take Chef Marco’s mini ricotta pie with a gluten-free crust. This lighter-than-air dessert is served with candied pears and pear ice cream for an elegant and clever dessert. The “Montebianco” layers a delicate chestnut cream, meringue and spicy caramel that goes well with a cup of espresso. Nutella-filled zeppoles combine two favorite Italian dishes into one heavenly dessert. Levante offers a wide range of Italian digestives to accompany your dessert and complete your meal.
Brunch at Levante is served Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., followed by dinner service. Choose from omelets, pancakes, frittata, panino, salads and pasta dishes as well as their brunch, beer and wine cocktails.
Although you cannot travel abroad yet, you can have a completely Italian experience, right here at LIC in Levante. They are open for dinner Tuesday to Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. followed by dinner. Visit now and savor a European meal in a charming setting, and a slice of “La Dolce Vita” in Levante. Buon apetito!
26-21 Jackson Avenue
Long Island City | 718.392.3885