Feed Me

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

What’s behind the curtain at the back of the new Piccolo Ristorante in Carle Place? Some kind of bookie joint?

Well yes, but only in the most legal sense. The new restaurant, an offshoot of the Bellmore original, is connected to a New York State OTB parlor, where it's got exclusive food service rights and offers waitress service. That means that you can place an order for penne and play the ponies, too. The good thing is that when you're in the restaurant, you're totally unaware of what goes on in the back (there's no smoking in the building and the bettors seem pretty quiet).

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Me, I’m betting that I'd be hard pressed to find nicer servers than the crew here. Or a better antipasto salad than the one the hostess brought our party of four. It was big, colorful, made with salami, peppers, provolone and cheese, and – best of all – is gratis with entrees and pastas. Wish I could say I was as wild about the calamari Corleone, squid that's breaded and fried and then sauteed with a teriyaki wasabi sauce, apples and pecans. It's wildly popular, but in my book, an offer I could easily refuse. Lasagna was homey and satisfying, house-made apple crisp right on the money.

Piccolo Ristorante is at 180 Glen Cove Rd., Carle Place, 516-pic-race (742-7223), piccoloristorante.com

Newsday photo of antipasto salad/Joan Reminick