VINCENT'S RESTAURANT & CLAM BAR, Carle Place, NY
I'll start by saying that I have never had a meal at Vincents, lunch or dinner, that was not good. In fact most of the dishes are excellent. If you've seen
my reviews, you know that I'm usually not a fan of the average Southern Italian Restaurant; but Vincent's is an exception. Their gravy (red sauce or marinara to non Italians) is delicious, all the time. Even better, you can choose from a mild, medium or hot
spiced marinara. As for the staples, no one makes a better Chicken Parmesan. The portions are huge, the meat is tender and juicy, and your choice of sauce makes it even better. Same for the Eggplant Rolletini. But my absolute favorite item on the menu, a long
standing tradition at Vincent's; The Shrimp Ball. These days they offer it as an appetizer, but Vincent's will accommodate your every desire if they can, and they will make you a dinner of your choice of pasta or salad, and the Shrimp Balls. Do not miss them!
All of the pasta dishes are excellent, and spaghetti and meatballs is always delicious and available. If you find it on the menu or specials, definitely try the Lobster/Seafood Pink Sauce, its consistently delicious, as is their vodka sauce and white sauces. I can't tell you much about the steak as I have not tried it, but the veal, lamb and chicken specialties are always reliable.
Vincent's recently expanded their lunch menu to include Pannini Pressed Sandwiches (the Broccoli Rabe & Sausage is perfect); Salads, Soup and Salad Combos and Lunch-Sized portions of many dinner entrees. Finally, if you go, save room for their freshly filled chocolate covered cannoli or chocolate dipped strawberries. Excellent.
Vincent's also offers an excellent take-out family special for dinner which includes a platter of Salad, and a choice of pasta and/or meat. For about $25-$30.00 for 4 - 6, you cannot go wrong.
Café Crust, County Rd 39, Southampton NY
Melrose East Restaurant & Pizza, 801 County Rd. 39, Southampton NY
I'm starting way out East, because this is important! FINALLY, a decent Italian takeout (or eat in) pizza & Italian food restaurant in Southampton
that DELIVERS! Don't be swayed by the other listings on that say delivery, because in the midst of the summer they just don't, the only delivery is Chinese or a separate delivery service! We've been eating at "La Parmigiana" for 50 years of so,
and if you want to go out and eat great food in a crowded restaurant on the weekend, go there. But Melrose East is the best Italian I've had in the Hamptons in years!
So, I found this new place on line and the menu looked quite appealing. I guessed I'd be in for a long weekend and ordered a lot of stuff. Thank goodness I had some company, because the servings are huge. The Shrimp Parm hero was fantastic. The bread was crispy and the shrimp were tender. Nice job. The Eggplant Parm Pizza w. eggplant, ricotta & mozzarella actually arrived with a crispy crust! Ha - where do you find that anymore? It could have fed 6 people! Then I couldn't resist ordering the Bowtie Pasta w/ a Gorgonzola light pink sauce, with diced bacon, plum tomatoes and mushrooms. Incredible. It was enough for one person to eat 3 times! Even the side order of Meatballs weren't bad at all.
Melrose - open just about a year - and I hope they stay. They even took my credit card over the phone. Skip Crust across the street and go here. If you're in the mood, they even have Mexican Food like burritos, tacos and fried chicken! Thanks Melrose - so happy not to have to leave my deck! See my profile for more of my reviews.
TUTTO PAZZO, 84 New York Ave., Huntington NY (water view)
FANATICO, 339 N. Broadway, Jericho, NY
RED, Huntington, NY
Across the street from Besito in Huntington, you will find this lovely little hideaway called Red. The name gives away nothing, but it's worth the surprise if you're in the area looking for a place to eat. (After all, Huntington is Long Island's restaurant row!). When you walk in you notice the striking decor, all designed around red, at once cozy & romantic, while remaining hip and unusual. So go in and sink into one of those comfy chairs, and enjoy your dinner.
Umbertos of New Hyde Park,
THERE ARE SOME RESTAURANT'S THAT DON'T NEED REVIEWING, SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR SO LONG THAT THEIR REPUTATION PRECEDES THEM. IN A RECENT VISIT TO UMBERTO'S HOWEVER, THE FOOD WAS SO GOOD, AND THE SERVICE SO ACCOMMODATING THAT IT BEARS
REPEATING. AND THE PRICES ARE STILL REASONABLE.
Umberto's is as good as it ever was. At a party for 30 on a Saturday night, plates of hot antipasto were served immediately, along with their famous grandma pizza. The antipasto was plentiful and delicious, the stuffed shrimp cooked perfectly, the baked clams fresh and made with whole baby clams, and the stuffed mushrooms and eggplant rolletini disappeared in an instant. Although I thought the pizza sauce was a bit too acidic, it was otherwise unanimous that the pizza was excellent. Then 30 people ordered from the menu and specials, and the wait staff managed to get them all out simultaneously, hot and cooked perfectly, all exactly to the right person. You don't see that too often. My pasta wth shitake mushrooms and shrimp in a very light cream sauce was so good I tried to eat all of it. The stuffed veal chop was another favorite, tender, and stuffed with mozzarella cheese and prociutto, with a mushroom wine sauce on top.
If you haven't been there, go. If you have been there, go again.
Verona Ristorante, Mellville Road, Farmingdale NY
We have to give a definite yes to this upscale and romantic Italian restaurant on Melville Road in Farmingdale, just across from the college. You will be warmly greeted at the door, and the staff is plentiful and accommodating. So far the food has been just about perfect every time we have been there - and that is quite a few times! As pictured here, the veal chop is one of the specials and is delectable. In fact, you might as well put down the regular menu because their daily changing list of specials are the best. A squid ink pasta with seafood was delicious, as was a pink pesto pasta with shrimp. The short ribs are a must try. I must confess to ordering pasta from the main menu, which is reasonably priced, and it also was excellent. Go, meet the owners as you walk in, and dont forget the rose for the ladies as you leave.
MERCATO KITCHEN & COCKTAILS
The food was good, the service was friendly, and when you go early to an empty restaurant, they let you sit anywhere. Even a big comfy booth made for six! And, considering I was going for the lobster mac n cheese, which came highly reccommended, I expected a much more pricey menu, along with the hospitable service. Not so. Their prix fixe menu for dinner was only $19.95, and lunch for $14.12. Both include coice of Appetizer, Dinner, Coffee or Tea, and lunch includes a glass of Sangria. More importantly, the choices on the dinner menu are significant and contain much of what is on the regular menu (appetizers like clams, calamari & mussels and dinner like steaks, pastas, burgers, and their special flatbread pizzas).
Unfortunately, I wanted the lobster mac & cheese anyway, so we ordered it to share. It was delicious with hints of lobster in the creamy, cheesy sauce - but I was concerned that some of those strips of "lobster" looked suspiciously like that fake crab you get in the chinese restaurants. Maybe it was just me. I did find some lobster knuckles, but no claw meat. Like I said, we finished it anyway. Then we had the baked clams oreganata, but boy were they small, as small as vongele and there were only 4. If they took them from Long Island, they would be illegal. However, they were powerful in taste and the lemon butter sauce was good enough to wipe up with the bread.
I had the rigationi in a light gorgonzola cream sauce with crumbled sausage and spinach. It was good, but hard to remember what I ordered by the time I ate it. There was a sensuous creaminess, but I did not taste the cheese, or the sausage. My husband ordered what was supposed to be a whole Bronzino, filleted, along with 2 vegetable sides. The sides were delicious, but no way was that fish whole, filleted or not. The fish was one half Bronzino, fileted, and was overcooked. Since it was one of the Chef's specials, that was a bit odd.
So, skip right to dessert, Peanut Butter Chocolate Fondue. See photo. It was delicious. Go on ladies night for $7.00 sangrias and chocolate fondue. I'm going to post a few more photos below, just for you to see what I meant. Meanwhile, for an Italian restaurant whose entrees average $15.00, some down to $10.00 all the way to a NY Strip or Filet Mignon for $24.00. For a quick Italian meal, maybe I would go back. the service is knowledgeable and helpful. But for gourmet Italian, this is not the place. (And with Smokin Al's and La Bottega just about across the street, why bother?)
See below for additional photos.
CAFE BACI, Old Country Rd., Westbury, NY
Who doesn't love Baci? Its very hard not to. The staff is warm and friendly, and the food is well-prepared, traditional and delicious. When you walk in the door you are greeted by the hostess and the
manager. I swear he has a photographic memory because even if you've only been there once he will remember you the next time with a sincere welcome back!
The menu is extensive and there is something for everyone from traditional Italian hot antipasto (eggplant, baked clams, shrimp, peppers and stuffed mushrooms) which is delicious, to a hamburger if you must. Often at lunch, you will be treated not only to your required bread basket of warm italian bread and focaccia, but also a dish of fried matchstick zucchini which is out of this world.
I happen to be there for lunch many times and I can tell you honestly that I have never had anything I didn't like. The staff is attentive and accommodating, and if you want something not on the menu, they will try and make it for you. They don't balk at substitutions. In fact, they seem happy to do it. Their lasagna is very good and full of meat and cheese. The portions are significantly large, so order judiciously. I've often made a meal of the appetizer of 3 large meatballs & mozzarella and a bowl of their delicious tortelloni soup.
The pasta selections include Cavatappi Secreto (diced meatballs, sausage, peas in a pink tomato sauce); Spaghetti & Meatballs (of course); Rigatoni with Vodka sauce; Cavatelli Tutto Funghi (chicken, portobella, shitake & wild mushrooms in a light brown sauce), and the list goes on and on.
The entree list is similarly extensive, but my absolute favorite, the one thing I keep going back for, is Pollo Baci. Breast of chicken covered with melted Italian white cheeses, cream sauce, zucchini, eggplant and a touch of tomato sauce. Veges on the side. I cannot even describe how incredibly luscious this is. Its rich and calorie laden, so I always take half home. But its worth it. Here you will also find their seafood entrees like filet of sole oreganata, mixed seafood in a light marinara over linguini, jumbo shrimp fra diavolo, shrimp parmigiana, and so on.
Don't skip over the personal pizza's if you're into that, and the burgers and pannini at lunch time.
Excellent service, friendly comfortable atmosphere, and more than reasonable prices will keep you going back.
ABSOLUTELY MARIO, Farmingdale, NY
Although Italian Restaurants are not normally my first choice, Absolutely Mario's charm and warm attention to their customers won me over. The atmospher is designed so that there are comfotable romantic
corners, yet there is always room for a family, or special event. At Absolutely Mario, you are made to feel like part of their family.
The food is mostly excellent. The stuffed shrimp appetizer was perfectly cooked and lightly crusted and the fried calamari was very good. The Lamb Chops came out perfectly crusted on the outside and medium rare inside. The "Absolutely Seafood" was not overcooked nd neither was the pasta. Other standouts on the menu include seared veal scallopini with mozzarella, fresh tomato & soprassata in a light brown sauce, and the Farfalle Primavera, in garlic & oil.
The service is special and attentive, the wine list is decent. The menu is sufficiently varied that you can find just about anything you want, but if it is not there, they will make it for you, ABSOLUTELY!
Its cozy & homey and I would reccommend it.
CAFE TOSCANO, Massa[equa, NY
I WAS LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS ONE, AS IT CAME WELL RECOMMENDED. IT NO LONGER DOES. I'M SORRY TO SAY I WAS VERY DISAPPOINTED. HOW CAN AN ITALIAN RESTAURANT SCREW UP CHICKEN PARMESAN? SERVE IT WITH BROCCOLI
INSTEAD OF PASTA, THATS HOW! THE RESTAURANT CLAIMS TO BE "FUSION," SO MAYBE THAT WAS IT. THE SEAFOOD SPECIAL WAS OK, WATERY SAUCE, NOT MUCH SEASONING. NO OFFER OF FRESH GROUND PEPPER OR GRATED CHEESE.
WE ATE EARLY AND THE RESTAURANT WAS NEARLY EMPTY, YET THE SERVICE WAS LAGGING AND IT WAS DIFFICULT TO GET THE CHECK - LIKELY BECAUSE THE WAIT STAFF WERE HANGING OUT BY THE FRONT DOOR CHATTING WITH EACH OTHER.
WONT GO BACK HERE.
Ciao Baby, Massapequa Italian
Open for a couple of years now, Circa has established a reputation for good Italian food, and poor service. I have been there a number of times, and this is what I've found:
The food menu is not extensive, but the wine list is. The food is representative of both southern and northern Italy, depending on what you order. The chicken marsala is very good, as is the veal chop. The eggplant rolletini from the lunch menu. In fact, they have an excellent $10.00 lunch specials menu with the Italian classics, salads and wraps. However, you may not be able to get in and out in an hour because of the service. Circa does have a number of pasta dishes, and the gemelli with sausage & broccoli rabe is very good. I had a personal size pizza Margherita - which was ok, not as crispy as it should be, and don't go for the sandwiches, its not worth it
Overall, I go periodically for lunch, but I wouldn't take anyone there for dinner given all the other choices in the area. It is not the best value for the money.