Pappardelle Ragu at Stellina in Oyster Bay.

Pappardelle Ragu at Stellina in Oyster Bay. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Long Island's Italian restaurant scene has never been better. Diners can find a growing range of eateries serving homemade pasta, regional specialties and straightforward Italian American classics. Here are Newsday restaurant critics' picks for the best Italian restaurants:


124 South St., Oyster Bay

Walking into Francesco Pecoraro’s restaurant feels like stumbling on a local trattoria in Sicily, from which Pecoraro hails. The décor is charming and rustic — plants dangling from tin ceiling, distressed wooden bistro chairs, dated portraits of folks nobody knows — and the menu reflects that cozy ambience, written by hand and ever-changing. The elegant food includes pappardelle Bolognese, linguine with clams, and a generously portioned branzino. But past those plates, Pecoraro’s creative talent is on real display. A local piadina sandwich layered with prosciutto, arugula and cheese is a refreshingly simple start to the meal. A standout veal osso buco ravioli might stay with you long past dessert, which is excellent and authentic — especially the sfingi, or Italian doughnuts filled with cannoli cream and topped with fresh fruit. More info: 516-922-2212,

Cafe Testarossa

499 Jericho Tpke., Syosset

Still going strong at 33 years old, Billy Sansone’s modern Italian is the very model of a chef-driven restaurant. Where other trattorias of its era are gone, Sansone’s has evolved: Gone is the pizza topped with salmon, roasted peppers and mozzarella; the tagliatelle with Gorgonzola and grilled chicken. Sansone still cooks every day, and his dishes evince an appreciation for the forthrightness and seasonality that are the mark of Italian cuisine. Silky house made mozzarella is offset by roasted peppers and beef steak tomatoes; veal meatball sliders are pillow soft, paccheri (big, Neapolitan rigatoni) are veiled with braised pork shank, cannellini beans and tomato ragu, a branzino filet is ample, perfectly cooked, and drizzled with a mango and parsley gremolata. No surprise that after three decades, Sansone has assembled a crack team of servers and bartenders; the latter are affable companions for a solo meal at the bar. More info: 516-364-8877,

Linguine with fava beans, English peas, asparagus and Corbari tomatoes is...

Linguine with fava beans, English peas, asparagus and Corbari tomatoes is served at Cafe Testarossa in Syosset. Credit: Daniel Brennan


1382 Old Northern Blvd., Roslyn

Felice is the 10th location of the Manhattan-based SA Hospitality Group. Partner Jacopo Giustiniani, Felice’s culinary director and Roslyn’s chef Niccolo Simone are all Tuscan by birth and, with exposed wood beams spanning its vaulted ceilings, the golden-hued dining room evokes a rustic Italian fantasy. The menu features Tuscan specialties such as crostini topped with chicken-liver mousse and crisped sage leaves, imported prosciutto Toscano (a little softer and saltier than Parma) and grilled steaks alla Fiorentina. More of the fare is pan-Italian: fried calamari and baby artichokes, arancini (rice balls), eggplant Parmesan, tonnarelli cacio e pepe, baked gnocchi with cheese and truffle, linguine ai frutti di mare, pappardelle alla Bolognese, and branzino baked in parchment. Tuscany produces some of the country’s greatest olive oils and many of Felice’s dishes are drizzled with its own proprietary oil from San Casciano Val di Pesa, outside of Florence. Felice’s mostly Italian wine list includes many Chiantis, Brunellos and Super Tuscans, as well as a number of bottles from Fattoria Sardi, the restaurant’s own organic vineyard. More info: 516-933-5432,

Edoardo’s Trattoria

300 New York Ave., Huntington

Edoardo’s is a trattoria of a decidedly different stripe. The front room of this bi-level space is a cafe-market-pastry shop where you can start your day with a pastry and an expertly pulled espresso. Or have a seat in the dining room and have a frittata, omelet or uova in purgatorio (eggs poached in tomato sauce). For lunch there are sandwiches on homemade focaccia, among them, the “after hours” with sausage, roast potatoes, caramelized onions, caprino cheese, pesto and arugula and “il gladiatore” with roasted vegetables, spicy zucchini, pecorino and three pestos, and seven pastas including linguine with shrimp and lemon sauce, fettuccine ai funghi (with wild mushrooms, cream and Parmesan) and pappardelle alla Bolognese. All the pastas are made in house and all are for sale in the market. Edoardo’s dinner menu, the creation of Trieste-born chef Marco Costanzo, might involve seared scallop with cauliflower purée and porcini threads, octopus with potatoes and tomato confit and a big ol’ raviolo stuffed with ricotta and an egg yolk and topped with a little Parmesan hat (frico). BYOB for one of the most elegant meals In Huntington right now. More info: 631-683-4964,

Linguine al limone at Edoardo's Trattoria in Huntington.

Linguine al limone at Edoardo's Trattoria in Huntington. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus


94 South St., Oyster Bay

Jesse Schenker’s love letter to the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy is just 10 tables deep and focuses on fresh pasta and vegetables. The region, known for mortadella, prosciutto, Parmigiano-Reggiano and stuffed pastas, veers refreshingly far from the red sauce joints that cover Long Island. Starters are nearly all vegetables — save for house-sliced prosciutto di Parma paired with housemade mozzarella — and include a rustic grilled cauliflower over whipped ricotta, garnished with lemon, pistachio, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, and asparagus and mushrooms topped with a fried egg and Grana Padano. Pastas range from spinach ravioli with sage in brown butter to a spicy sausage gramigna (G-shaped pasta) with spinach, tomato and cheese. Each night also features a different plate (T-bone steaks, whole grilled fish, lasagna Bolognese). There’s a Negroni menu, as well as a spritz cart and tableside martinis (gin or vodka). The all-Italian wine list is equally impressive. More info: 516-922-1660,

Grotta di Fuoco

960 W. Beech St., Long Beach

In the six years since Andrew Allotti opened this subterranean “cave of fire,” it has evolved from ambitious and promising to one of Long Island’s most assured and dependable Italian restaurants. Once you get past a trio of Parms served with a side of rigatoni, the menu veers sharply from the cuisine of Southern Italians in America and back to their roots in Naples, Sicily and other regions of the “Mezzogiorno” whose cooking relies not on tomato sauce and mozzarella but vibrates with lemon, chilies, capers, bottarga (dried mullet roe) and lots of fresh, seasonal vegetables. Much of the pasta, from spaghetti alla chittara to twirls of bellflower-shaped campanelle, is homemade; beans show up underneath grilled calamari or supporting a dish of monkfish and fat shrimp. Pizzas, baked in a wood-burning oven, are stellar. More info: 516-544-2400,

Baccala, or salt cod, alla puttanesca at Grotta Di Fuoco...

Baccala, or salt cod, alla puttanesca at Grotta Di Fuoco in Long Beach. Credit: Newsday/Linda Rosier


93 Main St., Stony Brook

Luca is cool and sleek, with surfaces of white and gray warmed up by the rich wood of the tables and chairs. Luca’s menu is elegant and modern — with modern pricing: three courses (appetizer, pasta, entree) for $79. The presentations are precise, but the flavors draw inspiration from regional Italian cuisine: Sicilian orange and fennel salad, here gussied up with dates and pistachios; Campanian buffalo mozzarella with basil and balsamic vinegar; Roman rigatoni carbonara; Bolognese tagliatelle. Entrees skew more New American: halibut with hazelnut, sunchokes, artichokes with a Nebbiolo reduction; Crescent Farms breast and confit leg with agro dolce and herb salad; dry-aged New York strip with blistered tomato, roasted garlic and porcini dust. For dessert: tiramisu, lemon tart, marotozzi (stuffed brioche buns) and more. Except for the gelato, all desserts — plus all the pasta and bread — are made on the premises. More info: 631-675-0435,

King Umberto

1343 Hempstead Tpke., Elmont

Elmont’s bastion of Italian American cuisine has been serving pizza, pasta and Parms of the highest caliber since 1976, first at a modest pizzeria and now in a sprawling establishment that also encompasses a fine-dining restaurant furnished in old-fashioned white-tableclothed splendor. There is little more to say about the Italian American classics here than that they are prepared as they ought to be — the calamari delicate and crisp, the baked clams plump and savory, the eggplant tender under its mantle of bright marinara and pillow-soft mozzarella. Ditto the veal Francese and penne alla vodka. Further off the beaten path are mellow braised tripe and “fire in the hole” sausages and peppers. The house specialty, fried capellini balls, is one Long Island’s best starters. Excellent service is equaled by the wine deep wine cellar. More info: 516-352-3232,

The cacio e pepe pizza at King Umberto in Elmont.

The cacio e pepe pizza at King Umberto in Elmont. Credit: Linda Rosier

Luigi Q

400 B S. Oyster Bay Rd., Hicksville

Luigi Quarta’s singular Italian ristorante remains in fine form, with many of the same precepts in place: No kids, no shorts or sweatpants (don’t even ask) and no takeout. Once you pass the initial vibe check, you’ll be seated in a modern dining room of white tablecloths, red leather accents and a backlit bar. An unhurried phalanx of regal gentlemen will attend to your table in languid circuits. Chef Jorge Gonzalez still exemplifies a cool control over the nightly specials, and first-timers can trust him implicitly, whether with vodka-doused oysters set alight tableside, seared diver scallops with a fan of Parmesan, a sublime, creamy rigatoni Bolognese or a tomahawk veal chop served Milanese-style. A gossamer Napoleon signals the evening has drawn to a close. More info: 516-932-7450,

Nick & Toni's

136 N. Main St., East Hampton

This restaurant’s name is evocative of celebrity perhaps more than any other place in the Hamptons. During the summer, seats in this jewel box of a place are hot properties, reserved long in advance, although your chances for a table radically improve during the off season. It’s in the cooler weather, when Nick & Toni’s toasty vibes really soar, especially if you land a table near the glow of the wood-fired oven. The hickory fire flickering inside lends a signature smokiness to executive chef Joe Realmuto’s the famous pizza, or maybe littleneck clams charred along their edges and fattened with pancetta and garlic butter. The telltale pop of a bottle of Champagne at the bar punctuate Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” blasting from the speakers as you consider some oysters, or corn risotto, or housemade potato buns stuffed with lobster, or a grilled veal chop with eggplant caponata … This is unfussy, seasonal but always elegant food, a true class act, and you’d be remiss not to see it straight through to dessert. Strawberry upside-down cake, maybe? More info: 631-324-3550,

Wood roasted mussels with fregola verde, white wine, garlic, and...

Wood roasted mussels with fregola verde, white wine, garlic, and shallots at Nick & Toni's in East Hampton. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski


90 North Country Rd., Miller Place

From both inside and out, Orto appears to be a rustic Italian farmhouse caught outside of its usual space and time, and that would also be an apt description of chef Eric Lomando’s food. His devotion to seasonality and local ingredients is deeply Italian at its root, and finds expression here in superlative pastas that feel rendered with love. Memorable dishes include smoked pork shoulder and an egg over polenta, or smoked-ricotta tortelloni with pureed herbs and bottarga, or swordfish a la plancha with a white-bean puree. And if there’s pistachio cake or brown butter cake on offer, you’re having dessert. It’s just that simple. More info: 631-862-0151,

Osteria Umbra

197 Terry Rd., Smithtown

Umbrian-born chef Marco Pellegrini turns out Italian food of astounding purity and vigor at this Smithtown restaurant, a partnership between Pellegrini and builder-brothers Daniel and Stephen Bragoli. The interior rocks with modern Italianate bling, but an ancient provenance informs the dominant design feature — a massive wood-fired grill-rotisserie, where slowly revolving birds and beasts lend their drippings to waiting pans of vegetables directly below. Pellegrini’s greatest hits include skewers of breadcrumb-crusted calamari, a Caprese salad topped with basil sorbetto, a bruiser of a wood-grilled veal chop and deep-dish tiramisu. You’ll also find whole roasted suckling pig and rotisserie duck leg with pork belly. Pellegrini serves his homemade bread and focaccia in Umbrian olivewood bowls, offers tastes of award-winning olive oil from Trevi and stocks a cellar of Umbrian wines that is probably unequaled on Long Island; there are also plenty of Super Tuscans and selections from the Piedmont. More info: 631-780-6633,


76 South St., Oyster Bay

Chef Fabrizio Facchini started his culinary career in Italy’s Le Marche region. Stellina, the chic little spot he owns with Oyster Bay residents Tom and Adriana Milana has an open kitchen that boasts a pizza oven and a lot of finesse. Don’t miss the light-but-chewy pies or the fried baby artichokes with lemon aioli. You won’t find a more refreshing salad on the Island than Facchini’s pinzimonio, paper-thin slices of beets, carrots, watermelon radish, and cauliflower with an olive-oil-lemon emulsion. The chef heaps glory on Italian manufacturer Pastificio G. di Martino's paccheri (giant tubes) with a suave golden saffron sauce marbled with pistachio pesto. The bucatini all’Amatriciana is as porky as it is tomatoey, with the sauce barely veiling the pasta. Main dishes run the gamut from a roast chicken with rosemary and thyme to a 16-ounce veal chop served Milanese-style. More info: 516-757-4989,

Pappardelle Ragu at Stellina in Oyster Bay.

Pappardelle Ragu at Stellina in Oyster Bay. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

The Trattoria

532 N. Country Rd., St. James

It’s easy to whiz past The Trattoria — squirreled away as it is from North Country Road in St. James — but this deceptively humble nook is the staging ground for confident, imaginative Italian cooking from chef-owner Steven Gallagher. Bright house ricotta is a year-round given, as is sun-dried tomato tapenade, braised meatballs over polenta or an unmatched lasagna Bolognese. Each successive season holds something new, too, whether gazpacho and or chicken-liver mousse with cherry agrodolce. Gallagher’s vivid pastas make decision-making hard, whether bucatini carbonara or rigatoni in a kale sauce with stracciatella and toasted breadcrumbs. For the carnivores, there’s a pork porterhouse chop with broccoli rabe and a potato cake; for pescatarians, seared ahi tuna with eggplant caponata. For those with a sweet tooth, Nutella pound cake. Hungry yet? Our work here is done. More info: 631-584-3518,

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