3463 Merrick Rd. Wantagh
Went with my folks last night and was very very impressed. And it takes a lot to set an Italian restaurant apart on LI, given there's one every 100 yards. The restaurant has been open for three months and recently got a good review from Newsday (which seems to like everything). The new restaurant is next door to their well-known Italian food store, which assures them a built in clientele.
The room is quite large, maybe 150 seats, and simply and tastefully decorated in a modern style. White tablecloth and linen. Servers are young and eager to please, if not totally polished (eg, I had to teach my server how to use his wine key).
On to the food. Somebody in the kitchen really knows what they are doing. Excellently balanced and presented dishes. Meats and sauces cooked perfectly.
As an amuse they brought with the warm Italian bread a plate of sliced tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic, with sliced red onion. The first of a series of nice little touches that added up to a great experience and value. (Water pitchers have lemon and orange slices, italian chocolate candies given with the check, a basket of wrapped anise cookies to pillage near the door, chef checking if we were happy, etc)
For appetizers we shared mussels marinara and a composed salad of napa greens, goat cheese, dried cherries, tomatoes.
The mussels were a large portion (like everything there)and served in a stainless pot cooked perfectly in a tomato basil and garlic sauce. Garlic was perfectly cooked and soft. Mussels were cooked perfectly without one crunch of grit in the whole pot. I ate a loaf of bread sopping up the sauce. Salad was dressed perfectly.
Entrees. I had pork chops which were served over risotto and accompanied by julienned veggies, grilled granny smith apples, shallots, and a dark reduction sauce which I think had some fruit in it (cherry? plum?). The chops brined, probably for a few days, and had a delicious slightly cured hammy flavor and were broiled perfectly and juicy.
Mom had rack of lamb (which she always orders). Crusted with bread crumbs and broiled to medium rare, served over shrimp risotto. Delicious. Dad had a ragout of meatballs, brachiole, short ribs and hard boiled egg over rigatoni with tomatoes. The doggie bag must have weighed five pounds.
Prices are reasonable. Pastas are $13-18, meats $19-28. With a bottle of cheap merlot dinner for three was $125.
I highly recommend the place. Definitely a cut above.