Front of Tufino Pizzeria Napoletana, right before they opened their doors for business
Last night we decided to check out Tufino Pizzeria Napoletana for dinner – this is the new pizzeria that opened up on Ditmars Blvd in Astoria. From the outside, it’s a very unassuming looking spot; inside it’s nice and warm – and if you sit in the back like we did, it’s even toastier, as that is where the pizza oven is located, and it does seem to put out a bit of extra heat (but we weren’t dying or anything, from the heat). It’s a pretty great oven, too – a Stefano Ferrara, which is considered to be one of the best.
Image source: Tufino Pizzeria Napoletana – named Di Maria after the owner’s wife, who built him his first pizza oven in their backyard
Along with the pizzas, they have a menu of dolcetti fritti - AKA, “fried treats.” We tried the arancini ($7), which were wonderful.
As you can see, three come to an order, and they are good sized, sort of in between the size of a tennis ball and a golf ball. They arrived on a pool of slightly chunky tomato sauce, the arancini – stuffed rice balls – were filled with Fior Di Latte cheese and sausage ragu. They held a wonderful contrast – crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, with a lovely savoriness. We could have eaten many more and they will haunt our dreams in all the right ways.
The table next to us was digging into the Mozzarella Fritto, which is a big ball of mozzarella stuffed with soppresata picante and porcini mushroom. It had that same beautiful crust on the outside as the arancini did. It looked absolutely delicious. Next time.
We chose to order the Nonna pizza ($16), after hearing raves from someone in the neighborhood. It’s made with organic Italian tomatoes, Fior Di Latte, house made Neopolitan meatballs, fresh ricotta, Parmagiano Reggiano, and basil. It was a great combination.
The meatballs are made from a recipe from owner Stephen Menna’s grandmother. They are nice and meaty and not too heavy. Loved the char the ricotta got. And the crust is light and pillowy, soft with a bit of a pleasant chew, and this pizza made us want to eat the crusts. It is naturally leavened like sourdough (but it is not sour tasting), but that kind of fermentation gives bread a deeper flavor.
For dessert we had to try the Tirami Choux ($7), a riff on Tiramisu (“pick me up”) because we like both dessert and a play on words. Three little cream puffs (made of pate choux, or choux paste) filled with Kahlua mascarpone sitting on a small, thin pool of what looked and tasted like coffee syrup. It was very cute and quite tasty. It went well with a pleasantly bitter cappucino, which came with a little almond biscotti, a very nice touch.
Along with our meal we had a couple of sparkly soft drinks – a Boylan’s cream soda ($3) and a Gazzosa by Lurisia ($3.75) – this was a sparkling lemon beverage, similar to Pellegrino Limonata.
The space is very friendly with 16 seats in the back area near the oven, a half dozen chairs at the bar, and maybe 20 seats up front.
This is a great addition to the Ditmars Boulevard dining scene, which is home to some great restaurants, old and new. It’s also great to see top notch pizza making its way throughout Astoria. We look forward to our next visit.