Steve's Piccola Bussola
41 Jackson Ave. Syosset, NY 516-364-8383
With wooden net-backed chairs leaning into white table-clothed tables, filled wine racks, framed representations of landscapes and village streets hanging on the crème-colored walls warmed by soft lighting, the mood is set for a traditional Italian dinner—and that is exactly what can be found in this Syosset sister venue to the original Steve's in Westbury. All dishes are served “family-style” (so plan on sharing with guests)—which includes antipasti like fried peppers, octopus and stuffed artichokes. There are many pasta possibilities as well, with loads of linguine and rigatoni leading the way, plus plates of veal, beef, chicken and pork—all prepared within the anticipated techniques of the house cuisine (Milanese, Parmigiana, Francaise, and more).
Hours: Noon-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; Noon-10:30p.m. Friday; 1 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. Credit cards: Accepted
Erica Marcus' August 2010 blog posting
I was filled with affection for my adopted home-Island last night when the waiter at Steve’s Piccola Bussola II in Syosset handed me the menu. Unadorned with fancy descriptors or chefspeak was a stark document that perfectly captured the regional food of our local Italian-American population. All but one of the dozen appetizers could be explained in two words (fried zucchini, cold antipasto, stuffed artichokes); the outlier was the rambling “octopus (grilled or cold).”
Same with pasta (tortellini panna, pappardelle filetto, etc.), chicken (chicken scarpariello, chicken cacciatore), seafood (mussels marinara, shrimps oreganata), meat (veal piccata, steak Siciliana) and salads, among which you have your choice of combination, chopped, Caesar or tricolor.
Those salads were served in enormous wood-parquet wash basins (what my colleague Joan Reminick calls the salad bowls of cluelessness). The waiters, garbed in short black jackets somewhere between a tuxedos and boleros, were brisk and efficient.
And the food was good. We started with these baked clams and, though they were heavier, breadier and cheesier than I prefer, each shell contained the whole clam that God gave it, and they were very tasty.
Our huge serving of rigatoni Bolognese was well-cooked and not criminally oversauced, nor was there a puddle of water at the bottom of the platter. Chicken Francese was moist and pleasantly lemony.
And of course we have lots of leftovers for lunch today.
Peter M. Gianotti's March 2008 review
Bring an appetite.
Maybe five or six.
Steve's Piccola Bussola II, offspring of the original Steve's in Westbury, is family-style dining with big flavors, very good quality and enough food for the week.
The popular approach can lead you to high-profile pasta mills with rush-hour service, beehive space and oversize portions of overblown forgettables. For this privilege, you'll wait longer than at the local ER.
But, as it did years ago at the Old Country Road location, Steve's opens as a rebuff to the blackboard joints, with a warm welcome and very satisfying cooking.
The newcomer takes over the site long occupied by La Viola. It has been refreshed and updated. Before you think, however, that they've gone totally novello, notice the painting with the straw-covered Chianti bottle.
Steve's revels in traditional, hearty southern Italian fare, emphasis on tomatoes. But the kitchen does make successful forays into central and northern regions, too. And Steve's will prepare half-portions of its oversize productions on request.
So, order the plump, moist and well-seasoned stuffed artichoke, which spreads out the size of two fists. Or dive into the savory, caper-stewn version of spiedino alla Romana, a bread-and-cheese union to feed a hungry infield.
You'll also enjoy the hefty, amply sauced cheese-stuffed eggplant; the platter of sweet, fried peppers; and rounds of fried mozzarella.
The fried zucchini needs more crunch, and the fried calamari needs more seasoning. The house's generous chopped salad delivers both.
Steve's sends out enough pasta to inflate wheat futures. The gnocchi Bolognese, linguine with shrimp marinara, and penne with broccoli rabe deserve your attention, along with the spaghetti alla carbonara.
Swordfish oreganata arrives snowy and fresh, under a toasty mantle. Red snapper marechiaro expertly swims with the tomatoes. And lobster fra diavolo brings in the heat, but tenderly.
Chicken campagnola, on the bone, with sausages, potatoes, peppers and mushrooms, and enough garlic to keep the vampires from Anne Rice, is a gutsy, bracing affair. You also can go the Parmigiana, Francese, Marsala or cacciatore route.
The pork chop Milanese, dutifully pounded and crisp, is a tasty alternative to the familiar veal version. There's veal piccata for the shy diners. In case you still have a lycopene deficiency, they make the pork pizzaiola, too.
Naturally, the desserts are all familiar. Leading the sweets: overstuffed cannoli, eggy cheesecake, a fairly light tiramisu, chocolate cake and serious biscotti.
No wonder Sinatra is singing.
Reviewed by Peter M. Gianotti, 3/30/08.