The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.
After 94 years of serving red sauce to Glen Cove, Stangos closed in November 2012. Then the hoopla began. Within days it was announced that the restaurant would be resurrected by a group of investors that included former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi and his wife, Helene.
In March 2013, the rechristened Stangos at the Orchard opened and in May, Newsday's Joan Reminick awarded two stars to its chef, Gabriel Massaro. Earlier this year, Massaro departed, the restaurant went on hiatus and in March, it re-reopened, this time with chef Phil Morizio, who until recently owned Cafe Al Dente in Oyster Bay.
At a recent dinner, I wondered what all the fuss was about. Stango's at the Orchard is no better and, at times, significantly worse than hundreds of modest Long Island trattorias and pizzerias that toil in anonymity, year in, year out.
The red-and-white checked tablecloths have been replaced by white ones, but otherwise the modest decor doesnt seem to have changed since the relaunch. The menu, however, is immense: 13 appetizers plus a calamari corner, 13 salads, 29 pastas, more than 30 entrees plus pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and heros. Hungry as we were, our party of three was only able to scratch the surface.
From calamari corner, we had the arrabbiata, tender fried rings and tentacles of squid that arrived already soggy from the sauce theyd been drizzled with. Tasty though. Hot antipasto consisted of baked clams (pretty good) and a leaden, tough-crusted trio of fried shrimp, fried artichokes and fried mozzarella sticks that Im guessing began their journey to Glen Cove in a frozen state.
The signature "Stella's pork chops'' tasted mostly of dried herbs; big chunks of sausage could not redeem the dried-out fingers of chicken breast in the scarpariello. Rigatoni & the three little pigs, featuring sausage, bacon and prosciutto, sounded like a winner, but the pasta was overcooked and oversauced, the pink sauce oversweet. However, it was better than the travesty of limp spaghetti and tasteless meatballs.
Service, I should note, was excellent. Our waiter paced our meal with skill, and kindly split all the pastas and entrees among the three of us.
Stangos at the Orchard is at 19 Grove St., Glen Cove, 516-671-2389, stangos.net.