There aren’t many reasons that Sunnyside, Queens would be well known, but if you want authentic Italian cuisine, Senso Unico in Sunnyside is where to experience it. Owned and operated by Chef/Owner and wife duo Vincenzo and Laura Garofalo, this restaurant oozes the comfort of being welcomed to an intimate dinner party.
Vincenzo hails from Avellino, Italy, as does Laura’s family, which is how they met. Their heritage is infused into every bite and the extensive and exclusive wine selection. Since Laura is a Queens native, the location of Sunnyside, a quaint quiet community, made sense for the type of food they wanted to serve and the family-oriented clientele they wanted to cater to.
Chef Garafalo isn’t new to the culinary scene either. He honed his skills at Michelin-starred Antica Osteria Nonna Rosa and Il Pellicano in Italy. He also lent his skills to Siro Ristorante in The Pierre Hotel and Le Cirque once arriving in New York before pursuing Senso Unico with Laura. He has cooked for legendaries like Chef Gualtiero Marchesi and Andrea Bocelli, so you know you’re in good hands.
When we arrived to the restaurant, we were asked if we were open to a tasting menu when we arrived and Chef Garafalo chose our dishes for the evening. We of course had to begin our meal with wine and opted for the Falanghina, a wine I had never heard of, because it was brought over from Vincenzo’s hometown and something you cannot get anywhere else. We also sampled the Aglianico from that region and the Manimurci purveyor. They also have a list of signature cocktails.
We began our Italian culinary journey with the Calamarata Ai Frutti di Mare, a more adult version of fried calamari with the addition of clams, mussels, and shrimp, served with a lobster and tomato sauce, which takes three days to make. The Carpaccio di Carne was very tender and paired well with the parmesan that was shaved on top.
We also tried their Senso Schiacciata, a grilled flat focaccia with fresher than fresh crescenza, speck and arugula. The flavors melted together in perfect harmony.
For our main dish, we were treated to one of their specials, a spaghetti with fava beans, which are currently in season and pancetta crumble in a white sauce. The fava beans according to Laura take a long time to prep, but the freshness of the dish made it well worth it.
Senso Unico also has very unique desserts. Chef Garofalo’s Beer Tiramisu is another item you won’t find anywhere else and while the combination sounds suspect, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the end product. We also tried their Deconstructed Napoleon, a crunchy concoction of filo dough, ricotta mousse, Amarena cherries and pistachios.
Senso Unico in Italian means ‘one way’ and for us this is one place you can find that has traditional and at the same time modern Italian cuisine in a welcoming setting with items that you won’t find anywhere else. We can’t wait to go back to try brunch and to sit in their outdoor seating, a highly coveted area during the warmer months!
– Stephanie Carino
4304 47th Avenue
Sunnyside, NY 11104
Photos via Senso Unico and by Socially Superlative