New Long Island Italian restaurants to try right now

by admin

You wouldn’t think Long Island needed any more Italian restaurants, but the past 12 months have brought a whole new batch. And it’s a pretty impressive lot: These nine spots aim to distinguish themselves from the pack with innovative concepts, menus and/or eye-popping décor. More than half of them boast native Italians in the kitchen. Maybe Long Island did need more Italian restaurants.

76 South St., Oyster Bay

Chef Fabrizio Facchini started his culinary career at a Michelin-recognized restaurant in Italy’s Le Marche region. Stellina is a chic little spot (40 seats) with an open kitchen that boasts a pizza oven and a lot of finesse. Don’t miss the light-but-chewy pies that issue from that oven, or the fried baby artichokes with lemon aioli. You won’t find a more refreshing salad on the island than Facchini’s pinzimonio, paper-thin slices of beets, carrots, watermelon radish, and cauliflower with an olive-oil-lemon emulsion. The chef heaps glory on Italian manufacturer Pastificio G. di Martino’s paccheri (giant tubes) with a suave golden saffron sauce marbled with pistachio pesto. The bucatini all’Amatriciana is as porky as it is tomato-y, with the sauce barely veiling the pasta. Main dishes run the gamut from a roast chicken with rosemary and thyme to a 16-ounce veal chop served Milanese-style. More info: 516-757-4989,

Carciofi fritti (fried artichokes) with lemon aioli at Stellina in Oyster Bay.
Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

1382 Old Northern Blvd., Roslyn

After two decades, Roslyn’s long-vacant, pond-side property has come back to life in the form of Felice, the tenth location of the Manhattan-based SA Hospitality Group. Partner Jacopo Giustiniani said Roslyn’s “charm and beautiful trees … reminded me of Tuscany.” Giustiniani, Felice’s culinary director and Roslyn’s chef, Niccolo Simone, are all Tuscan by birth and, with its exposed wood beams spanning its vaulted ceilings, the golden-hued dining room evokes a rustic Italian fantasy. The menu features a few Tuscan specialties — crostini topped with chicken-liver mousse and crisped sage leaves, imported prosciutto Toscano (a little softer and saltier than Parma) and grilled steaks alla Fiorentina. More of the fare is pan-Italian: fried calamari and baby artichokes, arancini (rice balls), eggplant Parmesan, tonnarelli cacio e pepe, baked gnocchi with cheese and truffle, linguine ai frutti di mare, pappardelle alla Bolognese, and branzino baked in parchment. Tuscany produces some of the country’s greatest olive oils and many of Felice’s dishes are drizzled with its own proprietary oil from San Casciano Val di Pesa, outside of Florence. Felice’s mostly Italian wine list includes many Chiantis, Brunellos and Super Tuscans, as well as a number of bottles from Fattoria Sardi, the restaurant’s own organic vineyard. More info: 516-933-5432,

160 Walt Whitman Rd., Huntington Station

Its name refers to the Italian appetizer of raw meat (here, beef, swordfish or salmon) thinly sliced and doused with olive oil but this soaring restaurant which takes over the old Brio space at Walt Whitman Shops might well have been dubbed Tile Showcase for the extraordinary variety and beauty of the dominant decorative element. This is LI’s Greek Limani restaurant group’s first foray into Italian cuisine, helmed by chef Massimiliano Francucci, a Capri native who most recently worked at Prime 1024 in Roslyn. You’ll find some Limani classic here — the tower of fried zucchini and eggplant, grilled octopus, Greek and beet salads — but the menu bounces between regional Italian (saltimbocca of veal, pappardelle al’ ragu, mushroom risotto), Italian American (chicken Parmesan, penne alla vodka, spaghetti and meatballs), New American (lobster mac-and-cheese, balsamic-soy-glazed yellowfin tuna), Continental classics (filet mignon au poivre, steak Diane) and inescapable LI favorites (cheese and salumi boards, burrata with prosciutto and roasted peppers, a “Carpaccio burger” with Cheddar, caramelized onions, shiitakes and truffle aioli). There’s also a full roster of pizzas which can be ordered with a cauliflower or gluten-free crust. More info: 631-479-3816, 

The dining room at Carpaccio in Huntington Station.

The dining room at Carpaccio in Huntington Station.
Credit: Linda Rosier

644 Vanderbilt Motor Pkwy., Hauppauge

Mezza Luna is resolutely old school. Co-owner Frank Norden was the maitre d’ of the restaurant’s predecessor, Mario’s, from 1999 to 2009 and when, after more than 40 years, Mario Bua decided to sell last year, Norden returned to take on the mantle of ownership. He oversaw a complete renovation, transforming the dated woodwork, upholstery and carpet into an enveloping white-on-black experience, with mirrors, chandeliers, abstract artwork and banquettes. But he kept on Mario’s longtime chef, Raoul Marino, to execute a menu still mostly devoted to Italian and Italian American dishes, such as shrimp scampi, manicotti and capelli d’Angelo Mario — angel hair pasta in a crabmeat-heavy red sauce. But Norden has also introduced new standards like whole grilled branzino and lobster mac-and-cheese as well as such Continental classics as oysters Rockefeller, seafood towers, duck a l’Orange and crêpes Suzette. More info: 631-273-9407,

300 New York Ave., Huntington

Edoardo’s is a trattoria of a decidedly different stripe. The front room of this bi-level space is a cafe-market-pastry shop where you can start your day with a pastry and an expertly pulled espresso. Or have a seat in the dining room and have a frittata, omelet or uova in purgatorio (eggs poached in tomato sauce). For lunch there are sandwiches on homemade focaccia, among them, the “after hours” with sausage, roast potatoes, caramelized onions, caprino cheese, pesto and arugula and “il gladiatore” with roasted vegetables, spicy zucchini, pecorino and three pestos, and seven pastas including linguine with shrimp and lemon sauce, fettuccine ai funghi (with wild mushrooms, cream and Parmesan) and pappardelle alla Bolognese. All the pastas are made in house and all are for sale in the market. Edoardo’s recently added a dinner menu, the creation of Trieste-born chef Marco Costanzo: seared scallop with cauliflower purée and porcini threads, octopus with potatoes and tomato confit and a big ol’ raviolo stuffed with ricotta and an egg yolk and topped with a little Parmesan hat (frico). BYOB for one of the most elegant meals In Huntington right now. More info: 631-683-4964,

Octopus with potatoes, tomato confit and caper berries at Edoardo's...

Octopus with potatoes, tomato confit and caper berries at Edoardo’s Trattoria in Huntington.
Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

551 Hauppauge Rd., Hauppauge

Gusto Osteria opened in December, an assured new eatery that blends Southern Italian with pan-Italian and New American influences. You could pass a happy evening sitting at the bar, working your way through the excellent wine list while consuming successive plates of olive all’ascolana, fried olives stuffed with beef and spicy sausage, and bruschetta topped with honeyed goat cheese, walnuts and mushrooms. But a full meal affords the opportunity to sample the a Naples-style zucchini Parmesan, served in its own earthenware casserole; the curly Sicilian pasta busiate, here sauced with a pesto of broccoli rabe; spaghetti with seafood, black garlic and lemon zest; gnocchi with tomato sauce and buffalo mozzarella. There’s a whole Cornish game hen cooked with lots of garlic and rosemary al mattone (under a brick) which renders the flesh juicy and skin crisp and a mustard-crusted rack of lamb. More info: 631-652-0150,

93 Main St., Stony Brook

When Luca opened in Stony Brook Village Center in August, it faced a challenge that doesn’t arise for most new restaurants: It was replacing a beloved eatery, Pentimento, whose closing in 2021 became a local cause célèbre. The strategy employed by David Tunney and Rory Van Nostrand was to make the space virtually unrecognizable: In place of Pentimento’s rustic, homeyness, Luca is cool and sleek, with surfaces of white and gray warmed up by the rich wood of the tables and chairs. Luca’s menu is elegant and modern — with modern pricing: three courses (appetizer, pasta, entree) for $79. The presentations are precise, but the flavors draw inspiration from regional Italian cuisine: Sicilian orange and fennel salad, here gussied up with dates and pistachios; Campanian buffalo mozzarella with basil and balsamic vinegar; Roman rigatoni carbonara; Bolognese tagliatelle. Entrees skew more New American: halibut with hazelnut, sunchokes, artichokes with a nebbiolo reduction; Crescent Farms breast and confit leg with agro dolce and herb salad; dry-aged New York strip with blistered tomato, roasted garlic and porcini dust. For dessert: tiramisu, lemon tart, marotozzi (stuffed brioche buns) and more. Except for the gelato, all desserts — plus all the pasta and bread — are made on the premises. More info: 631-675-0435,

Luca in Stony Brook.

Luca in Stony Brook.
Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

65 E. Main St., Smithtown

Owner Sam Constantis returned this restaurant to its roots, taking inspiration from Butera’s family-style Italian (which had opened in this spot in 2007) as well as from the original tenant, Smithtown Haus, a German-owned gathering place that debuted in the 1920s. He lowered the prices and instructed his chefs, Adalid Guillen and Alfredo Cruz, to “make a menu that people are going to love.” And their menu is indeed full of easygoing crowd pleasers from rigatoni Bolognese and linguine with clam sauce to gnocchi Florentine and orecchiette with broccoli rabe, sausage and pesto cream. There’s a lot of vodka sauce and sauteed chicken to be found, along with Italian American classics such as Caesar salad, baked clams, chicken Francese / Marsala / Parm (with vodka sauce) and local favorites like grilled salmon, a fully loaded burger and a pear-and-Gorgonzola salad with candied walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette. More info: 631-979-9700,

313 Main St., Farmingdale

Chef Eric LeVine is taking regional Italian cuisine to a new level of specificity. Not just Southern Italian, not just from the region of Campania, Vico’s fare draws inspiration from the town of Vico Equense, the hometown of the Fortuna family who owns the place, as well as 317 Main, LeVine’s neighboring restaurant-market-event space. Inside the restaurant, the décor, artwork and ceramics all reflect the sunny Bay of Naples. The menu features spaghetti with pistachio pesto and burrata; rigatoni with potatoes, pecorino, roasted walnuts and bacon; ricci (ribbon pasta) with red pepper sauce and sausage. All pasta is made in house and a few can be served in bowls made of pizza dough. The pizzas themselves include such fanciful creations as the tomato-less pizza “83” topped with bell-pepper sauce, mozzarella and sausage and the Casa Della Nonna with eggplant pesto, mozzarella, prosciutto and Parmesan chips. Among mains you’ll find porchetta with broccoli rabe and roasted potatoes; herb-crusted grouper with clams, mussels and tomato risotto; roast chicken with garlic ricotta, potato and eggplant. More info: 516-875-8426,

Tortelloni with fava beans and percorino at Vico in Farmingdale.

Tortelloni with fava beans and percorino at Vico in Farmingdale.
Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

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