Saturday, December 12, 2015

Restaurant Review: OvoSodo

Oh, to keep up with all the restaurants now in Forest Hills! It's a full-time job these days. Yes, there are still a few old-time places that have bucked the trend—Portofino, T-Bone Diner, for example—and managed to stay in business despite all the new competition. But the fact is they are facing an uphill battle that gets more difficult every other month it seems as the next new place opens up. In just the past several years, so many new restaurants have opened in Forest Hills, the dining scene here has gone from one stuck in the mid-1970s, with maybe four or five decent, and I use the word decent generously, restaurants, to one that's overflowing with excellent choices.

Recently, I decided to pay another visit to one spot that hasn't gotten as much attention since the awesome places like Station House, Banter and Jack & Nellie's have opened. And that is the Italian diner/restaurant OvoSodo, located on Queens Blvd. just around the corner from Ascan.

OvoSodo is a very interesting place. It's half gourmet italian restaurant, and half diner. That's really the best way to put it. At different times of day you can get pretty much any kind of food you'd get in a good diner. For breakfast, there's your standard bacon and eggs fare, for example. At night, for dinner, it takes on more of an Italian restaurant feel.

And that is mostly because it's excellent sister Italian restaurant, Tuscan Hills, is located just a few blocks further down Queens Blvd., towards Kew Gardens.

And that's another element that makes OvoSodo so interesting. Tuscan Hills serves some of the same dishes OvoSodo does. But there are some differences. For example, while Tuscan Hills' pizza is to die for—some of the best in the City—OvoSodo takes the pizza experience further, offering a different style of pizza altogether (square slices, for instance) and a much broader variety.

At my recent visit, I had the Salsiccia pizza: Tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and sausage. It was awesome. Light, not heavy like traditional NY style pizza, but overflowing with mouth-watering flavor.

OvoSodo's Salsiccia pizza, with mouth-watering sausage.
We also had the meat lasagna, also excellent.

So the food is terrific. But what I also love about OvoSodo is the atmosphere. Each restaurant feeds off its location. An establishment can't help but be influenced by where it is situated in this great big city of ours. And here, even within the confined borders of Forest Hills proper, where a restaurant is located influences its look, its feel, and its atmosphere.

By situating OvoSodo along Queens Blvd., that decision can't help but affect the overall feel, and purpose, of this particular restaurant. When we visited, during a weekend evening around 8p.m., we noticed it was only half-full. Since this place is a bit off-the-beaten path, it wasn't hard to imagine that the influx of weekend diners to Forest Hills had gotten so far as Austin Street and its side-streets, and then stopped there. OvoSodo is in a spot frequented by locals—and that's about it. There'd be no reason for visitors to find it, really. The fact is, the block it's on, along with most of that strip of Queens Blvd.—on both sides—has seen much better days.

And that's probably the reason we are starting to see such an interesting dining scene arise along Queens Blvd. now. The atmosphere—speeding cars, old apartment buildings, could not be more dreadful for a restaurant—but the new restaurants that are opening along the Boulevard are doing wondrous things with both cuisine and with the atmosphere inside their walls. You would not know you are eating at a place with multiple lanes of inappropriate-for-a-residential neighborhood traffic racing by outside.

And that's why there's been a spate of attractive new restaurants opening along these blocks of Queens Boulevard, and not Austin Street. The rents just gotta be a ton lower than along Austin, which a Shake Shack can probably easily afford (praise the lord!) but which an entrepreneurial restauranteur just cannot—at least in its early-going.

OvoSodo makes use of the urbanized atmosphere of Queens Blvd. by incorporating a dinerish feel; it's a place you can spend hours refilling that cup of coffee. It's not overcrowded like so many of the other hip new places that have opened in and around Austin Street. (Even, unfortunately, Red Pipe, which I love, but is a tiny spot and could benefit from a much bigger space.)

And that is what I love about OvoSodo—it's open, it's airy, it gives you room to breathe—and to delight in some awesome food to boot. Try it out if you haven't already.


  1. I didn't realize they were under the same management as Tuscan Hills. Good to know!

  2. I still miss Just Like Mother' Polish crepes in the history of Polish crepes. I've tried Ovosodo a few times, and am always disappointed. I wish they had more vegetarian fare on the menu, as well.

  3. Everything I ate there I had a bad experience, I feel like we went to different restaurants.

  4. My husband and I order from turn frequently and have never once been disappointed. So happy to see them get some well-deserved blog love! I'm vegetarian and have no problem finding plenty to eat on their menu.

  5. The food is hit-or-miss, and the brunch in particular was weak when I tried some non-breakfast foods (burger and chicken and waffle), but that was likely my mistake for getting items like that at an Italian restaurant. If I remember correctly, the Caesar salad with salmon was pretty great, though. I definitely need to try their more traditionally Italian faire.

  6. Their pizza wasn't that great. Maybe because it sits out for a long time and then they reheat it.

  7. The food is ok I like it much better at Tuscan Hills. Unfortunately both places have horrible bathrooms.

  8. Unfortunately this restaurant suffers from "multiple offering disorder". They spread themselves too thin and in my opinion are not exceptionally adept at making any one of their disciplines perfectly. They should focus on customary Italian dishes and stop appropriating the T-Bone Diner. Also, they will not make you Chicken Parmigian pizza which immediately makes me suspicious of their management as well as the source of their ingredients.