1932 Jericho Tpke. East Northport, NY 631-499-8792
At first glance, the soft lighting, thick wooden tables and planked floors seem to indicate that this would possibly be a pub of some sort -- but in fact, this is an eatery serving a selection of Italian-style dishes. The menu opens with a long group of salads and appetizers, as well as some lighter bites (such as heroes, pizzas and calzones) -- but certainly doesn’t slight the diner seeking a hearty plate, as the list of pastas runs into the dozens, and includes everything from ziti and ravioli to whole wheat linguini and tortellini pappagallo (cheese-filled pasta in a pink cream sauce). Entrées are also available, with chicken, eggplant, veal and seafood served in sauces and preparations familiar to the house cuisine (Francaise, Marsala, Parmigiana).Hours: 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday; Noon-10 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. Reservations: Not Accepted Credit cards: Accepted
As the lines that often trail out the front door attest, Torcello's in East Northport is the kind of informal, moderately priced eatery that appeals to just about anybody with an appetite.
Here, the fare is lusty and spirited, served by a cheerful staff in portions generous enough for two or three to share. For starters, you'll get garlic toasts that ooze fragrant oil all over your fingers. You might want to share a small pizzello. The simple tomato and cheese mini-pizza is everything a pie should be. Caesar salad can be creamy and garlic-intense or a trifle oily, depending upon the mood of the kitcihen. The huge, robust Greek salad can serve as appetizer for three or four. Or, for one truly hungry soul, it can be a meal.
At the end of a stress-filled day, a bowl of gnocchi with a bright, chunky tomato-basil sauce can be all it takes to soothe frayed nerves. Rigatoni alla vodka - luxurious and flavorsome - also falls into the category of pasta-as-therapy. So does the linguini with white clam sauce, a dish featuring lots of clams and just enough oil. But the farfalle with chicken sausage, sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts can suffer from oiliness and a lack of salt. You'll like the shrimp fra diavo lo with spaghetti, a spicy, full-bodied dish.
Vegetable lasagna, from the roster of "spa" items, is a layered construction of grilled vegetables with a bright, chunky tomato sauce. From the "light" section of the menu, chicken with spinach, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes in mushroom broth over pasta is wonderful, not the least diet-like.
For something hearty and classic, there's Torcello's fine chicken Parmesan. Veal Marsala is another Italian restaurant standby done well.
If there's room for dessert, try the creamy chocolate mousse layer cake. A simple cappuccino or espresso can be enough.
Like almost everybody there, you'll leave with change in your pocket and tomorrow night's dinner in your doggie bag. --Joan Reminick