The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene
Vespa, Great Neck, now Ponte Mollo
Vespa Cibobuono, which has stood at the corner of Northern Boulevard and Great Neck Road since 1991, is now Ponte Mollo. The new name was bestowed by Marco Mollo, who has worked at the restaurant since 1999 and purchased it about 18 months ago. (He noted that Ponte Mollo, “soaked bridge,” is also the nickname of Rome’s Ponte Milvio, which dates back to the third century B.C.)
Mollo is from Piedmont, Italy’s great wine region, and, as befitting the grandson of a Barolo maker, he continues Vespa’s tradition of offering about a dozen wines by the glass as well as a wine list full of interesting, well-priced bottles. In the restaurant’s new wine bar, little plates include artichoke salad, bresaola carpaccio, pickled eggs with horseradish and sweet-and-sour trout and cost $5 apiece, three for $12, six for $20.
The new menu at Ponte Mollo draws from all over Italy, with New American notes as well. Right now, starters include arugula, radicchio, endive and radish ($12) and roasted baby beets with goat cheese and pistachio honey ($13), grilled baby calamari with sea salt and rosemary ($13), seared tuna with pickled carrots and fresh mint ($17) and grilled portobello mushroom with grilled sausage ($12). Among pastas: trenette (fettuccine) with wild mushroom sauce ($22), pizzoccheri (buckwheat tagliatelle) with savoy cabbage, Valtellina Casera cheese, potatoes and garlic ($24), lobster ravioli with lobster butter and saffron ($27). Mains: veal meatballs with green beans and roasted potatoes ($24), crisply salmon with maple kale and roasted squash ($27), grilled rack of lamb with cipollotti onions and fingerling potatoes ($38).
Ponte Mollo is at 96 Northern Blvd., Great Neck, 516-829-0005.