In less skilled hands, the seasonal menu can stumble after nature’s natural bounty of summer is no longer available at our city’s greenmarkets, urban farms and CSA’s. However at Vesta, that beloved Italian neighborhood gem located at 30th Avenue and 21st Street in Astoria, they work absolute wonders with the flavors of fall.
Last night at I had one of the best seasonal meals I’ve had from beginning to end. For an appetizer we ordered the Polenta, warm and creamy and topped with earthy roasted mushrooms, tender cauliflower, and half moons of shaved celery. This is the perfect dish to make the transition between the cold air outside and Vesta’s warm, welcoming interior.
As an entree we decided on a Delicata Squash pizza that I have never before seen on Vesta’s menu – and if it is new, it is a seriously welcome addition. Their signature cracker thin crust is covered with a generous layer of sage walnut pesto, a sharp provolone cheese, and beautiful rings of sweet delicata squash. Astoria’s pizza scene is on the whole city’s radar screen these days, and I would argue that Vesta’s pizzas, and this one in particular, deserve to be a part of the conversation.
As a side dish, we opted for the justifiably famous brussels sprouts, an overflowing bowl full served crispy and sprinkled with parmigiana cheese. The brussels are a staple on Vesta’s fall and winter menus, however that doesn’t stop me from missing them the rest of the year when they are not available.
We ended the meal by trying a brand new seasonal dessert that Vesta is offering, a warm Pear Tart with balsamic reduction that was so delicious, I hardly regretted not ordering their signature Baby Jesus Cake. But if you have room, you know, go ahead and order both.