Executive Chef Matt Higgins concocts elegant interpretations of rustic Italian dishes to fill a menu that has earned praise from the New York Times for its fresh ingredients and playful flavor combinations. Toast an anniversary, birthday, or a Little League World Series title with a decadent dinner, starting with a savory saffron risotto infused with sage, pancetta, and a sprinkling of parmigiano reggianno ($12). Filet mignon dons a dapper suit of peppercorns as it lounges in a shallow brandy-cream river alongside fingerling-potato gondolas and bobbing roasted figs ($34). Plunge tines into a shrimp-and-scallop feast, laden with olives and grape tomatoes atop a creamy risotto ($28), or catapult tongues through clouds of gnocchi suspended in an eggplant-and-mozzarella-strewn sunset ($22).
Delicate, black filigree forms a lacy aura around one of the dining-room doorways, resembling a wrought-iron gate. Across the room, a recessed archway frames a fireplace whose flame glows in harmony with the sconces on the green walls. This fusion of classical elegance with contemporary influences informs the menu, which comprises a mix of time-tested and innovative lunches and dinners.
Though contemporary Italian cuisine forms the menu's foundation, the restaurant also opens up its kitchen to Asian and American influences. Marbleized sauces join precarious sculptural arrangements to adorn plates with upscale panache. Valentino's specialties are long island duck, grouper marechiara, and a portobello appetizer, which can be enjoyed by themselves or as part of Valentino's three- or four-course dinner specials. Every single dessert, such as Anthony's bananas foster flambé, is made from scratch on the premises. In fact, all flambé desserts are seared right at the table, meaning guests can personally ensure their desserts' calories are burned. The restaurant features live music on Fridays.
Alfonso Molino began flipping dough in his parents' Brooklyn pizzeria at the age of 10. Today he helms Molino's Italian Kitchen, where he and his staff adapt the philosophy "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." In doing so, they keep their traditional and pan pies uncomplicated, basking in the beautiful simplicity of a stellar pizza margherita and showcasing toppings in one of more than 20 gourmet options. In addition to the pizzas, they prepare classic Italian entrees, including chicken cacciatore and shrimp scampi, as well as local favorites such as new york strip steak.
At A'Tavola Ristorante, Chef George Fusco draws on his 20 years of experience to prepare a menu of elegant Italian entrees from scratch in an open kitchen. He and his kitchen staff top linguine with littleneck clams and fra-diavolo sauce and souse veal milanese in sherry vinaigrette and a balsamic-reduction sauce. For dessert, they whip up freshly filled cannolis, sugar-speckled crème brûlées, and new york–style cheesecakes, whose crusts are perpetually under construction.
While the heart of Johnny Carino's menu is rooted in genuine Italian traditions, forward-thinking creativity has birthed what they like to call their signature dishes. Led by executive chef Chris Peitersen, the seasoned kitchen staff blends fresh ingredients along with extra time to create high-quality preparations. Diners will find entrees such as 16-layer lasagna with made-from-scratch sauce, and pizzas made with home-baked crust. Other signature choices include the all-natural beef tuscan ribeye, baked stuffed mushrooms topped with house lemon basil cream sauce, and tiramisu made from the ground up. Entrees can be paired any selection from Carino's extensive wine list and drink menu.
The recently redecorated La Riviera Lounge aims for a taste of true Italy, where its Italian-speaking staff serves up authentic seafood, chicken, and veal dishes from a robust menu. Kick off the evening by proposing marriage to a sailor with crispy rings of fried calamari ($9.95), then celebrate with a seafood feast of shrimp, scungilli, and octopus, bedecked with a lemon vinaigrette ($14.95). The chicken principessa gives tongues the royal treatment with mushrooms and fresh tomatoes cosseted by a cognac cream sauce ($20.95). Meanwhile, a plate of veal portuguese bridges land and sea with pan-seared veal and lump crab meat in a port-wine reduction, all resting on a foundation of pasta ($23.95). All entrees arrive to the table with a choice of soup or salad, along with refreshments from the full bar and a dashing gondolier that offers rides around the table in a wheelbarrow.