Feed Me

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

It's an age-old dilemma that people put themselves through on Saturday nights: Movie first, dinner after, or dinner first, movie to follow? The major problem is that a lot of restaurants don't stay open that late on Long Island, so dinner first, also better for digestion, is usually the way to go.

Except when the movie timetable doesn't cooperate, which is what happened to us this weekend. So at 9 o'clock, starved (but immensely satisfied after seeing ''The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond,'' in which Ron Howard's daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard, is mesmerizing) we started looking for a place to eat.

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Bingo! La Bottega was just down the street in Roslyn and was serving until 10.

This chain of Long Island panini-salad-soup-cheese restaurants now has 12 branches and a 13th opening soon in Port Washington. The prices are astonishingly low, and the food is really fine.

There are more than 25 salads to choose from, including Zola—baby arugula, mushrooms, red onions, corn, bacon, crumbled Gorgonzola and balsamic vinegar. We zoomed in on the panini menu, and ordered one with slowly roasted suckling pig, fresh mozzarella, broccoli rabe & spicy red peppers ($8.45) and another with prosciutto di Parma, mozzarella, spicy salsa, red onion, olives and peppers ($8.95). The house-made French fries were to die for.

La Bottega scores on homemade soups (potato, artichoke and fava bean was outstanding), its cheese menu and an excellent wine list.

Other branches of La Bottega are located in: Garden City South, Rockville Centre, Merrick, Carle Place, Oceanside, Long Beach, Massapequa Park, Huntington, Floral Park, Deer Park and Roosevelt Field.

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Panino with prosciutto, sauteed spinach, grilled red onions and fontina cheese at La Bottega. Newsday photo / Audrey C. Tiernan