Gnocchi picks on Long Island

The dining room at Sacramone's Coal Oven Pizza

The dining room at Sacramone's Coal Oven Pizza features a split-level floor layout, with walls adorned with terra cotta shingles, antique prints and photographs. (Feb. 18, 2012) Photo Credit: Johnny Simon

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The tender little dumplings called gnocchi (pronounced nyo-kee) are said to have originated in the Middle East before showing up in ancient Rome.

Gnocchi may be made with semolina, flour, potatoes, spinach, ricotta or in any combination. The dough is formed, cut, boiled and then topped with a sauce or herbed butter.

These three Long Island restaurants know their gnocchi.

SACRAMONE'S, East Meadow

In her late 80s but still cooking strong, family matriarch Maddalena Sacramone makes this restaurant's meltingly good gnocchi, which is served with a homestyle tomato ragu. Clearly, mama knows best.

MASCALI, East Northport

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Chef-owner Jim Bancheri features gnocchi Bolognese -- light semolina dumplings -- in a hearty tomato-based meat sauce.

CIRO'S ITALIAN RESTAURANT, King's Park and Hauppauge

At these Italian restaurants, the tender gnocchi may be had with virtually any sauce on the menu. One winner is the bright filetto di pomodoro.

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