The 10 best Italian restaurants on Long Island: Eat here now
There are more Italian restaurants on Long Island than you'll find in many cities outside Rome. It's easily the favorite cuisine in Nassau and Suffolk. And that doesn't include the dedication of LIers to their pizza, either. Most places have southern influences, but plenty of northern Italian restaurants also thrive.
The current alphabetical list of our Top 10 Italian restaurants has two newcomers: casual Abeetza Next Door in Greenvale; and Rialto in Carle Place, which comes over from the former "international" category.
18 Bay(Credit: Randee Daddona)
18 Bay, Shelter Island: Chefs Elizabeth Ronzetti and Adam Kopels are devoted to the season and the market. At this charming country restaurant, their fare is "Italian inspired." The menu is a four-course affair that changes weekly. You may be there for lustrous striped bass crudo, fluke ceviche, fava beans with pecorino cheese and mint, grilled swordfish, goat-cheese cannelloni, cauliflower soup with almond pesto, almond cake, fig cake, peach-and-cherry upside-down cake -- all memorable. Closes for a month in winter. (Pictured: sauteed Montauk striped bass served with wax beans, snap peas and corn vinaigrette)
Braised short rib with cucumber kimchee at 18 Bay on Shelter Island.
Abeetza Next Door(Credit: Jeremy Bales)
Abeetza Next Door, Greenvale: This modern, sit-down restaurant is the hearty offspring of the popular, adjoining Abeetza Pizza. Here, chef-owner Joseph DeLorenzo builds on the original with fired-up "angry shrimp" in spicy red sauce; flatbread with Gorgonzola, prosciutto, arugula and fig puree; chicken Milanese; rigatoni Bolognese; the namesake penne with sausage, mushrooms and caramelized onions in light tomato sauce; and tiramisu. Modestly priced, deftly done. (Pictured: pasta-free zucchini lasagna)
Angry shrimp over zucchini noodles is a signature dish served at Abeetza Next Door in Greenvale.
Benny's Ristorante(Credit: Johnny Simon)
Benny's Ristorante, Westbury: Benny DiPietro's restaurant is a family affair, and you'll be adopted. This warm establishment, in its third decade, prepares flavor-packed food, both refined and rustic. The essentials include bucatini pasta with sardines, raisins and homegrown fennel (pictured); fettuccine alla carbonara; eggplant rollatine; cod alla Livornese; beef braciola; Gorgonzola-crowned steak; and desserts such as cannoli, zabaglione, biscotti, and Signora DiPietro's lush cheesecake.
Crispy duck breast with pan jus and risotto at Benny's Ristorante in Westbury.
Casa Rustica(Credit: Doug Young)
Casa Rustica, Smithtown: Casa Rustica has been serving outstanding Italian food since 1986. Mimmo and Benedetto Gambino's refurbished restaurant is comfortable and welcoming. Some of the top dishes include whole fish baked in a salt crust, now usually branzino; lobster risotto; grilled octopus salad; stuffed artichoke; rice balls; meatballs with ricotta; spaghetti with fava beans, onions, artichokes, and peas. The desserts are delectable, especially cannoli and zabaglione. (Pictured: lasagna Bolognese)
Casa Rustica(Credit: Alessandro Vecchi)
Casa Rustica in Smithtown excels with lobster, especially its creamy risotto with asparagus and roasted tomatoes.
Luigi Q(Credit: Craig Ruttle)
Luigi Q, Hicksville: Luigi Quarta, restaurateur and perfectionist, emphasizes market-fresh, seasonal cooking, and whatever else inspires him. Among the top dishes over the years: cuttlefish salad, shrimp-stuffed paccheri pasta, venison with red wine-and-blueberry sauce, roasted wild boar chops, roasted quail with pea-and-porcini risotto, cod Livornese, house-made cheesecake. Just go along with whatever Quarta recommends. Not a restaurant for young children. (Pictured: lobster raviolo with black sea bass)
Quail with truffled polenta at Luigi Q in Hicksville.
Nick & Toni's(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)
Nick & Toni's, East Hampton: The ultimate Hamptons hot spot and celebrity magnet is a sharp restaurant under chef Joseph Realmuto. Stylish, as you'd expect, and infinitely better than it has to be, N&T's makes everyone boldface. The notable dishes include penne alla vecchia bettola, in a spicy oven-roasted tomato sauce; ricotta gnocchi with broccoli rabe and Gorgonzola; sardines in Venetian-style agrodolce; wood-oven roasted Berkshire pork chop; artichoke piccata; honey tart; bomboloni; fruit tarts. (Pictured: vegetable and goat cheese terrine)
The fluke crudo appetizer at Nick & Toni's in East Hampton.
Rialto(Credit: Johnny Simon)
Rialto, Carle Place: Rialto bridges Italian and other continental fare with homey style, in a dining room that reflects earlier decades. Tradition thrives under Mario and Tara Fuentes. Pappardelle alla Bolognese and spaghetti alla carbonara, veal chop Valdostana and chicken scarpariello, braised pork osso buco and swordfish with artichokes and peppers point the way. The Dover sole meuniere also is prepared with care. The dessert cart is old-fashioned and very fresh. (Pictured: veal osso bucco)
Fresh orecchiette with Italian sausage, spinach, and crushed tomatoes is topped with a dollop of ricotta cheese at Rialto in Carle Place.
Stresa(Credit: Timothy Fadek)
Stresa, Manhasset: Giorgio Meriggi presides over this elegant, gracious, traditional restaurant, where chef Ella Rocca creates very satisfying, polished fare. You'll remember the grilled bistecca alla King, with peppers, onions and mushrooms; savory campagnola soup (pictured); spirited bucatini alla Norma; a classic mushroom risotto; gleaming swordfish carpaccio; and unquestionably the finest souffles on Long Island. Addictive biscotti, too.
Stresa's chocolate souffle is served with creme anglaise.
The Trattoria(Credit: Daniel Brennan)
The Trattoria, St. James: Steve Gallagher, the chef at Kitchen A Trattoria, bought the snug restaurant in December. Renamed The Trattoria, its on a par with its popular predecessor and sometimes better. Fixed-price menus that change daily are creative and genuine. Winning dishes include Gallaghers five-layer lasagna, paccheri pasta with a hearty suckling pig ragu, tomato-braised meatballs with polenta, spaghetti allAmatriciana, pappardelle Bolognese, hake with caponata and salsa verde, pork loin with braised cabbage and rye gnocchi, and, yes, a superior eggplant alla Parmigiana. Flourless chocolate-almond cake, a two-tier black-and-white creme brulee, and lemon cheesecake to conclude. (Pictured: brasato of beef with polenta)
The Trattoria(Credit: Daniel Brennan)
The Trattoria chef-owner Steven Gallagher serves a five-layer lasagna Bolognese that begins with house-made pasta. I
Trattoria Diane(Credit: Newsday / Ari Mintz)
Trattoria Diane, Roslyn: The regional cooking of Rome distinguishes John Durkin's rustic restaurant. Bucatini all'Amatriciana and spaghetti alla carbonara lead the pastas. The vegetable appetizers also are elemental and essential: fried artichokes, fried squash blossoms, grilled zucchini with orange and mint, Brussels sprouts that are almost candied. Roast chicken is juicy; short ribs, tender; orata, light. Don't miss the Tuscan pot roast. All desserts are grand. (Pictured: lamb duo)
Veal scaloppini is served with prosciutto and sage at Trattoria Diane in Roslyn.