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Italiano, Prego

So, if you hadn’t noticed it, Plum Tomatoes on Beach 129th Street has changed owners. Not much to notice from the outside but there are changes on the inside. Plum Tomatoes used to be a pizza place that also served dinners. You could get slices and hang out on the side at a table. There was a wall that kind of separated the slice eaters from the diners. The various types of pizza slices were displayed under a glass case at the counter.

The new owners have renamed the place La Sorrentina and have made changes, and I have to say, I like them. La Sorrentina is now an Italian restaurant that happens to also sell pizza. And that tells the main difference. The wall separating the areas is gone, and each table is adorned with a white tablecloth and setting. There are waiters who are attentive to diners and wine bottles are everywhere. In other words, the place has transitioned from a pizza parlor to an Italian restaurant, and when you think about it, what other real Italian restaurants do we have on the peninsula? Yes, there is the old stalwart Tiberio’s on Beach 116th Street, and there is Elegante on Beach 92nd Street, and while their food is excellent, it’s not a sit-down place to eat, more of a take-out kinda place.

I have eaten twice at La Sorrentina and have enjoyed my meal both times. I found the portions to be plentiful and tasty, however be aware of the garlic, it will get you later! They have a wine list, and the ambience is warm and inviting. I wish them luck in their new endeavor, as the block already has Mexican, Chinese and pub-style food establishments.

I understand the prior owners of La Sorrentina didn’t always endear themselves to the neighborhood, at least that’s what I understood from the scuttlebutt. But they made the investment when no one else did and they stayed the course for many decades, and I wish them well. And I understand that the new owners have made it clear that the new place is not a hangout for the pre-teens to pile their bikes outside, or to buy a coke and sit for hours inside and kibitz. And that some of the kids are asking their parents to boycott the place. But I think that is really unfair. These folks made an investment too and are focusing on serving adults, and well, being an adult, I side with them!

I am excited by the prospect of another place opening up right on the corner of Beach 129th Street. Again, my sources tell me it’s to be a Brennan & Carr-type place with roast beef au jus. Perfect! Add that to the newly-opened Harbor Light around the corner and it makes cooking almost an afterthought.

How lucky are we living in the greatest place, in the greatest city on Earth? Happy New Year Rockaway. Can’t wait to begin the third decade of the 2000s!

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