The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.
I know full well how cautious friends are about suggesting where we should dine. So when a South Nassau resident of long and affectionate acquaintance asked me to meet her at Friendlier Trattoria & Pizzeria in Hewlett, I knew she must be pretty confident of its merits.
Friendlier first opened in 1976 as a pizzeria. In 1991 the owners added a dining room and, thus, the right to call itself a trattoria. (A gentleman behind the pizza counter told me that the original name of the place had been Friendly Pizzeria, but it was quickly changed to Friendlier to avoid confusion with and possible legal action by a nearby Friendly's Ice Cream.)
On a Tuesday night, the dining room was almost full with regular customers who barely had to look at the menu. All the main courses came on big, white, rectangular plates, which lent them a certain elegance. Delivered to the table next to us was eggplant Tony ($17.95), half a baked eggplant stuffed with vegetables and blanketed with cheese, and balsamic chicken ($17.95), which looked like a pound of chicken and potato chunks in a balsamic glaze.
My friend started with the special salad ($6.95) a dressed pileup of iceberg lettuce, tomato, onion, red pepper, salami and provolone. I could see the appeal in its unashamed embrace of its own iceberg-ness but I was happy with my dozen clams on the half shell, a bargain at $12.
My well-executed shrimp oreganata ($19.95) was accompanied by a good spaghetti marinara. My pal had a huge plate of spaghetti with meatballs ($11.95).
Service was efficient and, of course, could not have been friendlier.
Friendlier Trattoria & Pizzeria is at 1006 Railroad Ave., Woodmere, 516-569-5373, friendlier1976.com.