La Tavola

183 W. Main St. Sayville, NY 631-750-6900

The exterior of La Tavola restaurant in Sayville.

(Credit: Robert Mecea)

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Type: Italian Special features: Happy hour, Outdoor Seating, Lunch Price range: $$$ (Expensive) Description:

Set for either a meal or a spot for relaxing, both the dining room and the bar do steady business. The taproom crowd tends to serve an after-work crowd, catering to thirsty patrons with a weeknight happy hour from 4-7 p.m. However, hungry guests do very nicely as well, as La Tavola offers a menu of rustic Italian fare that can open with either a meat or cheese plate (or a combination for $22). Appetizers include salads, soups and antipasti—with bites like arancini rice balls, mozzarella and bruschetta, while wood-fired pizzas are another option for lighter meals. Entrées do come in full meal fashion though, with pasta plates and major meats like chicken, veal, beef and seafood ready to order under various sauces and dressings.

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Ambience: Very Good Service: Very Good Reservations: Accepted Credit cards: Accepted Accessibility: Ramp at side entrance
The Gnocchi Bolognese dish is seen on a

The Gnocchi Bolognese dish is seen on a table in the La Tavola restaurant in Sayville. (Oct. 23, 2008) (Credit: Newsday / Robert Mecea)

2

La Tavola sets a grand table. Make that tables: hand-built from antique boards, rustic and mismatched, more distressed than the economy.

The warm, country trattoria fills them with full-flavored food, affordably priced. The new spot with old ways is an offspring of the Ruvo restaurants in Greenlawn and Port Jefferson, owned by the four DeNicola brothers. Their latest, homey destination is decorated with colorful, stylized paper-cut images by Douglas DeNicola and defined by an affection for family traditions, including their father's hand-carved art. La Tavola delivers a taste of authenticity.

THE BEST

Executive chef Joseph DeNicola excels with Italianate small bites. Try crudo of yellowfin tuna with mint-chile oil or fluke with terrific tomato confit flecked with raisins and pine nuts; crostini with a spread of sweet pea, mascarpone and mint, finished with prosciutto, or white-bean puree mixed with pancetta and rosemary. His antipasti turn addictive with crunchy, mellow arancini, Ping-Pong-size rice balls filled with fennel sausage and provolone; and a delectable burrata Caprese for two, the mozzarella-and-cream cheese-within-cheese set on paper-thin slices of pear, accented with prosciutto and sage. Complement these with a salad of fennel, orange, pignoli, basil and ricotta salata. Then consider puffy potato gnocchi in a lush Bolognese sauce; or orecchiette tossed with housemade sausage, broccoli rabe, hot peppers, garlic and olive oil. Fine main courses range from the splashy Montauk striped bass paired with braised fennel and tomato-red pepper aioli to confit of duck leg with delicious braised lentils; grilled pork tenderloin with sweet apple-vin santo chutney to elemental chicken scarpariello and chicken Parmigiana. Eclectic desserts: apple brown Betty, vanilla panna cotta, chocolate-hazelnut tart, gelati, biscotti.

THE REST

Routine pizzas with good, diverting toppings; so-so fried artichokes with better roasted garlic aioli; cannoli, more tangy than sweet.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Bring friends, family, an appetite.

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Where

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La Tavola 183 W. Main St., Sayville

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