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NOW THAT'S ITALIAN

Very promising dinner last week at Testaccio at the Gardens, a new Italian restaurant in Garden City Park.

Looking over the menu, I felt a mixture of elation and dread. Elation because here was a document deeply rooted in regional Italian (and not Italian-American) tradition. The region is Rome (Testaccio is a famously gritty neighborhood in the Eternal City), and the menu featured such Roman classics as fried baby artichokes (carciofi alla Giudea), braised tripe, saltimbocca and three great Roman pasta preparations: carbonara, all'Amatriciana and cacio e pepe.

Dread because, with a few exceptions, Long Island restaurants don't have a great track record with authentic regional Italian cooking.

Elation won out. Fried baby artichokes, seafood salad, an appetizer of eggplant Parmesan were excellent.

The big test came with my spaghetti carbonara and, thank goodness, it was made with a tight, creamless sauce of eggs and guanciale (cured pork jowl, of which it could have used more). Strozzapreti ("strangle-the-priest" pasta) was oversauced with a good pesto. The tripe, in a luscious sauce, needed a couple more hours of cooking to achieve a melting tenderness.

Testaccio at the Gardens is a branch of the well-regarded Testaccio Ristorante in Long Island City and is in the neat fieldstone building at 2232 Jericho Tpke., Garden City Park, 516-502-6900. -- ERICA MARCUS

BACK ON A ROLL

Last fall, when Lobster Roll Northside in Riverhead closed for the season, it was put up for sale -- and, effectively, thought to be a goner.

Now, much like the recently revived Bollinger's Family Restaurant in Farmingdale, the place has returned from the great beyond.

Some new menu items have been added, among them a lobster cake ($14.95), shrimp cake ($13.95) and seafood pasta featuring clams and shrimp in an herb garlic sauce over linguine ($18.95).

The Lobster Roll Northside is at 3225 Sound Ave., Riverhead, 631-369-3039. Its older sibling, The Lobster Roll Southside (also known as LUNCH), is at 1980 Montauk Hwy., Amagansett, 631-267-3740. -- JOAN REMINICK

VIVA MEXICAN

Alejandro and Maria González, owners of Oaxaca and Quetzalcoatl in Huntington, just opened Chichimecas, a new Mexican restaurant in Farmingdale. It takes over the trackside, bilevel building that last housed Estelle's Contemporary BBQ.

González is making use of the smoker left over from the restaurant's previous incarnation for pork and chicken and, on holidays, turkeys and whole suckling pigs.

Chichimecas' everyday menu includes such items as pork chops with poblano pepper sauce ($14.95), pipian, or pork cooked in a pumpkin seed sauce ($16.95), and oven-smoked chicken ($9.95). Soft corn tacos ($2.95) come with a variety of possible fillings, among them chorizo and carnitas, or citrus-marinated pork, as well as grilled chicken, all accompanied by onion, cilantro and green salsa.

Chichimecas is at 169 Main St., Farmingdale, 516-586-8646. -- JOAN REMINICK

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