La Volpe in Center Moriches: Enjoy the show

Pasta with sardines at La Volpe in Center Pasta with sardines at La Volpe in Center Moriches. (Oct. 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday Peter Gianotti

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The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.

Full of good flavor and good humor, La Volpe adds some Sicilian spark to dining out along Montauk Highway in Center Moriches.

Not that it's entirely Sicilian. You can go on a regional Italian tour here, mostly southern but with plenty of side trips.

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It's all served in a country-style dining room that's eclectic enough to include shelves where "Contemporary Civilization in the West," Vol. II, is three books away from  "We Called It Macaroni."

Each table has a painted vase, including one with Mastroianni at his black-tie, "La Dolce Vita" best. And, on its own, dominating the main wall space in all its splendor, is a big portrait painting of Sophia Loren.

How can you not like this place?

Nibble on the rolls, which you'll dip into good olive oil. Check the menu. And order the satisfying bucatini with sardines, the classic Sicilian dish, here with peas among the raisins, pine nuts, bread crumbs and company. Or try a spin on a Roman mainstay, here garganelli alla carbonara, sweetened with ground walnuts and cream.

La Volpe has the standards, too, including a husky eggplant Parmigiana; and several excellent little pizzas, among them the Palermo with sauteed onions, tomato sauce and bread crumbs, and the Diavola, with spicy salami. Flounder amandine and pan-roasted fluke deserve your attention, too.

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And for dessert: creamy Italian cheesecake and rich cannoli.

You'll be tempted to stick around in the adjoining pizzeria.

La Volpe, 611 Montauk Hwy., Center Moriches; 631-874-3819.

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Pasta con le sarde, or bucatini with sardines, at La Volpe.

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