A Douglaston Hideaway
63-20 Marathon Pkwy., Douglaston
Hours: Lunch Tue-Sun 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Dinner Wed-Sat 4-10 p.m., Sun 2 p.m. to close
Credit Cards: All Major
Though its home may be one of the most well-known party locations in Queens, La Cupola has been thriving in the shadow of its big brother, Douglaston Manor, since it opened.
Let’s just say from the get-go, if you’ve ever enjoyed yourself at Douglaston Manor among the crowd at a party, you’re going to love the more intimate dining experience that La Cupola has to offer.
The open and airy room is surrounded by windows, with great views of the neighboring golf course. The tables are well-spaced and the service is quick and attentive.
On a recent weekend we ventured out for an early dinner, and were quickly seated and given an opportunity to peruse the menu as we awaited our drinks.
After listening to the specials, we decided to stick to the menu, and ordered a good range of appetizers and pasta dishes, starting with the La Cupola Salad and Fried Calamari.
The salad was a mix of chopped greens with kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, pine nuts and shaved pecorino Romano cheese. The portion was large, the ingredients fresh and the house dressing just the right combination of light with a bite.
The calamari serving was also sized for sharing, with that mix of rings and whole pieces; not tough or chewy, but well-seasoned and with a tangy dipping sauce.
Though La Cupola has a wide array of fish and meats on the menu, the obvious focus is on the pasta, with different combinations of ingredients specifically paired with pasta types.
We chose the Rigatoni, Ravioli and Fettuccine. The Rigatoni was served with broccoli rabe, sweet Italian sausage, cherry peppers and garlic in an oil-based dressing. The heat of the peppers, tartness of the rabe, sweetness of the sausage and smoothness of the garlic made for a stellar combination, hitting every part of the palate.
The Ravioli was stuffed with spinach and ricotta and served in a creamy Alfredo sauce. The two cheese flavors combined for a sweet and sour delight, also imparting an earthiness from the spinach. Truly delicious.
The Fettuccine was served with sautéed shrimp, Gaeta olives, artichoke hearts, parsley oil and shallots. With such strong Mediterranean flavors, one might expect a single element to dominate the rest, but this was not the case.
Satisfied, and frankly, kinda full from the large portions and not wisely making room for dessert, we opted to skip the sweet ending, though both the honey panna cotta and berry-mint compote both sounded fantastic. I’ve also had the tiramisu there before, and it did knock my socks off.
In short, this is a little Italian gem sitting in the shadow of the Douglaston Manor. Technically, it is inside the catering hall, so you get to see the bridesmaids rushing past, hear some of the music from next door and get that feeling of a party atmosphere without it spilling into your meal. It’s a great experience.
—Brian M. Rafferty