For years, Joseph DeLorenzo has been crafting his own pastas, sausages, bread, mozzarella and pizzas at the modest-looking pizzeria and market called Abeetza. Now, in the adjacent space, he's built a handsome sit-down restaurant where the food excels and the service is as warm as the ambience. Not that surprising from someone who is also a partner at Lula Trattoria in Mineola.
If the gratis garlic bread presented on aluminum foil looks commonplace at Abeetza Next Door, one bite reveals otherwise. The fine, house-baked loaf is crusty yet buttery, subtly garlic-infused within.
You'll want to share a Margherita flatbread. The oblong pizza's crisp, delicate crust is crowned with creamy, house-made mozzarella, bright tomato sauce and fresh basil. A runaway hit here is angry shrimp, plump shellfish in a fiery marinara. Your server will suggest getting it over zucchini "noodles" -- actually raw zucchini ribbons that are briefly sauteed. The result is a triumph for low-fat, low-carb and gluten-free eating.
In the same category: the lush vegetarian three-cheese zucchini "lasagna" using those same ribbons in place of pasta sheets.
Pastas come out of the kitchen perfectly al dente. A must is the namesake penne Abeetza, made with sausage, mushrooms and caramelized onions in a light red sauce. The richly savory sauce works with fettuccine, as well. Other winners: rigatoni Bolognese featuring a thick, rich meat sauce, as well as linguine with white clam sauce starring tiny Manila clams in a buttery broth that whispers rather than screams garlic.
A white balsamic glaze turns up in the namesake chicken Abeetza, boneless breast with caramelized onions, broccoli and roasted potatoes. The cluttered composition will appeal mainly to those who like sweetness in their entrees. You might want to ask that the balsamic drizzle be withheld from the chicken Milanese, a crisp greaselessly fried cutlet topped with a vibrant arugula salad.
All desserts are house made. The light and lush tiramisu competes with a crème brûlée that's warm and crackly on top. One night, dessert is an opulent little chocolate soufflé, intense and runny on the inside.
It's a finale as indulgent as it is apropos to the Abeetza experience.