>> Saturday, September 13, 2014
110-60 Queens Boulevard
Forest Hills, NY 11375
Nestled in what used to be Just Like Mothers, the entirely forgettable Polish diner that went the way of an overcooked kielbasa last year, is OvoSodo, an Italian bistro of sorts brought to you by the team at Tuscan Hills (a restaurant I should really return to sometime in the near future). When OvoSodo was first being discussed, at least around me, it was because they were going to offer pizza "by the inch", an allegedly authentic method by which Italians serve their pies up in the old country. "Yeah, I lived in Italy for a while," Myna casually stated. "That's totally not what they do there." Skepticism about this newcomer to the nabe was thusly born.
Pizza was on my mind when Bro and I moseyed over a few weeks ago to give OvoSodo a look-see. I was half expecting that we would walk into another version of Gloria, down by the movie theater, but to my pleasant surprise, I was completely wrong the second that we walked through the door; a crisp, clean, white, and modern interior. Art from local artists, for sale, on the wall. An espresso bar sits by the front entrance; a regular restaurant occupies the rest. Fat guys in red and white striped shirts and white paper hats were nowhere to be seen. Indeed, although everything that I had read discussing OvoSodo was pizza this and pizza that, there was virtually no pizza on the menu. Still, I had to know. Was the pizza even any good? Spoiler: it was.
Bro and I started our meal with the Carciofi Bruschette, Parmesan, ham, and artichoke. Delicious. It was a bit heavy, but we were hungry, and the waitress probably wasn't even across the room by the time it was gone from the plate. Then came the pizzas. The whole "inch" thing should be discarded and instead think of the sizes as large (17 inch) and small (8 inch). Trust me when I say that unless you're looking to start buying two seats every time you fly the small is more than enough for one person. I decided to try the OvoSodo Pizza pie. It's basically a margherita pie (plain) with bacon and an egg. A-maz-ing. I never would have thought that putting an over-easy egg on a pie and popping a yolk to bleed it's golden goodness across the cheese would make me drool, but now I want one on every pizza I eat from now on. I even tried it at home the other day. Bro got the Capricciosa Pizza pie: tomato sauce, olives, artichoke, and ham. Also good. A little bit too complicated for my taste, but I still liked it and when Bro accidentally left his leftovers in my fridge, I was more than happy to finish them the next day.
Having been thoroughly and pleasantly surprised with my first meal, and seeing that OvoSodo's menu was far more encompassing than what I'd been able to sample, I convinced Pike to return with me for my second round. We sat down, ordered a couple of diet colas, and immediately split an appetizer of Polpettine, aka: meatballs. They arrived in a veritable soup of marinara sauce that was sweet and perfect. "And you almost asked the waiter not to give us bread," he stated with rolled eyes while soaking a crusty slice in the sauce. The meatballs were very good too, so don't think different.
As an entree, Pike ordered the Chicken Tuscan, which he very much enjoyed. Rigatoni pasta, chicken, mushroom, sun dried tomato, in a pink sauce. I stole a few bites and agreed. "The only thing I don't like," his critique began "is that the pasta is al dente. I know that its the right way to cook pasta, so it's not like it's a flaw. I know that it's good." He paused. "I'm basically complaining that they didn't fuck up my dinner." I ordered Pollo Al Marsala, a classic dish that every red sauce joint makes but none make properly. The last time I ordered this, it was at a BYOB family style spot in the burbs for a friend's birthday and the dish was laughably bad. Ordering chicken marsala is basically a test. It's a simple dish, but it isn't inundated in flavor-masking tomato sauce. Can the kitchen get it right? Will I finally be able to eat chicken marsala without disappointment? They got it right. I wasn't disappointed. In fact, it was fantastic... and so huge that I took half of it home. But the important thing is that it was fantastic. A thick red wine sauce, mashed potatoes that were as creamy as butter, and chicken so tender that you could cut it with a spoon.
I have never either eaten at OvoSodo or walked past it when it was anywhere close to full. This is a shame because it deserves to be. There are precious few restaurants that serve really good Italian comfort food and OvoSodo is one of them. OvoSodo isn't creating anything new. No Brooklynites will make the trip on the F train to see what new experiments are being concocted in the kitchen. It's just chicken marsala and lasagna and pizza. It's entirely been-there-done-that in every conceivable way. Except that it's good. It's better than good. It's a shame that there aren't more people eating there.
As for prices, it's reasonable. Neither Bro nor I nor Pike ever drank (there is a wine list, though) so we didn't give our wallet the thrashing that it could have had. The bruschette was under $10, the pizzas were $10 or under for a small, the pastas were $15 and under, and the entrees were under $20.