La Piccola Liguria, a Port Washington mainstay, pleases the palate with freshly prepared unique dishes and Italian standbys.
The bright, comfortable restaurant with harbor views is also easy on the eyes. Note the magnificent antipasti display upon entering the dining area. We came for trenete al pesto, a traditional Ligurian dish with roots in the owner’s native Finale Ligure, halfway between Genoa and the French border along the Italian Riviera.
The owner, Victor Raimondo, serves it without string beans (fagiolini) and potatoes. If you order it “ala Genovese,” you’ll get the string beans and potatoes. They may suspect we sent you.
Waiters Vlad or Frank recite a lengthy list of specials: vitello tonnata, calves liver Veneziana, grilled anchovies, rabbit cacciatore, roast duck, along with an array of salads and appetizers, whole fish, pastas, duck, short ribs and ossobuco.
“And, of course, there is the menu,” the recital concludes.
Our latest visit started with a glass of Prosecco with zucchini florets. Rich flavorful tomato soup is a perfect intermezzo. The unique flavor of delicate truffle oil compliments the porcini mushroom and fennel salad.
The pasta special was strozzapretti, which translates to “priest choker.” The story goes that when this pasta was invented and first served at an Italian monastery, the priests could not get enough, kept eating, and choked.
Complimenting this pasta was mixed seafood that blended this Tuscan pasta with flavors of the Ligurian coast. Whole-roasted branzino is perfectly prepared and deboned in sight at the serving table.
Save room for the fresh desserts on the trolley. Jeff’s favorite is the torta della nonna. Vera loves the homemade tiramisu. There is chocolate ganache, fruit salad, and many other fresh treats.
The wine selection is excellent, covering all price ranges. Jeff likes the La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino, but the La Fortuna Rosso di Montalcino is a good substitute.
La Piccola Liguria, 47 Shore Rd., Port Washington, 516-767-6490. Open daily except Monday. Lunch 12-3 p.m. Tues.-Fri. and dinner is 5-10 p.m. Tues.-Thurs., 5-10:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat. and 4-10 p.m. Sun.
CHEFS ON THE RUN
Coming soon to downtown Oyster Bay: Watch for the January opening of 2Spring by Iron Chef winner Jesse Schenker.
Even on a Tuesday night, diners flock to Antonette’s not only for its fine cuisine and romantic ambiance, but also its live music.
The first impression of the wine list was that the fine selection appeared to be underpriced. Most restaurants charge customers three times their cost for wine, but the owner charges 1.5 his cost. Amongst the choices are Banfi Brunello di Montalcino for $63. Other restaurants charge well over $100.
We selected the Michele Chiarlo Reyna Barbaresco, one of our favorites from the Piemonte region. At $38 for such a fine wine, we knew we were off to a great start for the evening.
The opening was an ample platter of antipasta Italiana followed by servings of grilled calamari and grilled octopus, each with a lavish presentation and distinguished taste. We grazed on an excellent Caesar salad but miss the tableside preparation when Antonette’s was in Rockville Centre.
We shared the veal chop prepared perfectly at medium rare. Our companions had sole and the special, shrimp courted by burnt string beans, a colorful combination in both taste and appearance. Another shared special was shrimp stuffed with an intense crab meat accompanied by whole clams in the shell.
Unobtrusive music started later in the evening. It felt great to work off our lavish meal with an energetic dance.
The lush dessert platter presentation made it impossible to resist at least a small sampling. The molten chocolate cake and the apple tart were the perfect ending to a perfect evening.
Antonette’s, 290 Glen Cove Rd., East Hills, 516-626-6490. Closed Mondays. Dinners served until 9 p.m. weekdays, until 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat.