In the heart of idyllic downtown Garden City’s shopping area, the much-loved Seventh Street Cafe that has been serving Long Island’s most authentic Italian cuisine for a quarter century is now amid a Renaissance.
Owner Victor Scotto, of Scotto Brothers hospitality group, personally took over operation of the restaurant in December, taking the reigns from outside management. Scotto, who is wellknown for his architectural genius, began renovations.
He redecorated the European-style dining room, opting for a lighter, brighter color scheme, added comfy booths in one section, and built an expansive new bar area, made of beautiful white quartz from Italy. The private catering room also received a fresh, new look, featuring imported Italian ceramic tile flooring. Scotto also redesigned the semiprivate room for his new creation: the 20 Table, a large, square table, designed to allow large groups to dine together, with each guest able to easily see and converse with one another. This unique offering was inspired by Scotto’s own family.
“My sister had me tear down a wall in her house, so she could have one table large enough to seat her whole family, which includes 10 grandchildren,” Victor says. “I thought customers might also enjoy this same feeling of closeness and togetherness.”
They certainly do. The 20 Table, which can actually accommodate up to 24, has delighted both large families and corporate clients alike, and is in near-constant demand.
Scotto’s warm personality provides a personal touch in the dining room, as he is often seen greeting customers, many of whom have become friends, with his infectious smile and joking manner. When he is not in the dining room, he is taking care of things in the kitchen.
Scotto has personally retrained the entire staff on the finer points of service and hospitality and put in place an all new management team, including his cheerful and gracious partner Brooke, who works with him as a Catering Sales Manager. Scotto also enjoys expert assistance from his son and right-hand man, Victor Scotto Jr., who graduated at the top of his class with advanced degrees in restaurant and hotel management from the illustrious Johnson & Wales University, and is now the General Manager of the family’s Chateau Briand catering facility in Carle Place.
To take the already fantastic food up a notch even higher, Scotto hired new Executive Chef Saverio Caratozzolo from the five-star La Terrazza in Rome. Caratozzolo has created many unique new dishes, which have been very well received. His specials quickly sell out each week, and Taste & Toast the Town recently named his grilled Mediterranean octopus appetizer served over quinoa and arugula salad the Best Appetizer on Long Island.
Chef Caratozzolo also began importing numerous specialty products from Italy, including burrata cheese, an uber-fresh soft cheese making its debut on the menu; the finest bufala mozzarella; intensely flavorful, farm-made pecorino Romano; black truffles from Abruzzo; nocciola (hazelnut) gelato; and simple-yet-delicious biscotti, for his scrumptious homemade tiramisu, which is a must-try.
“The best way for me to use my knowledge of food is to work with a person like Mr. Scotto,” Chef Caratozzolo says. “We understand each other.”
New menu items also now feature many organic products, and gluten-free dishes are now available as well. Scotto also recently began featuring whole fresh fish on the daily specials board, which are flown in daily and are one of the most popular new items.
On a recent visit, our waiter Fabrizio was our culinary guide, describing the mouthwatering specials. We started out with the Pumpkin and Cheese Risotto, made with organic pumpkin and imported Pecorino Romano cheese, followed by Rigatoni Bolognese, with a side of Fresh Ricotta, and Branzino Mediterraneo — broiled branzino with kalamata olives, Sicilian capers, fresh tomato, and roasted potatoes.
How was it? As we concluded our meal, we heard the gentleman seated at the table next to us compliment Mr. Scotto, “The food is outrageous!” and we both immediately nodded our heads in emphatic agreement.
Whether trying it for the first time or returning to try the new menu, Seventh Street Cafe is one exceptional restaurant you must experience.
Seventh Street Cafe is located at 126 Seventh St. in Garden City. It can be reached at 516-747-7575 or seventhstreetcafe.com