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Antonette's Classico, Rockville Centre: First bites

Bucatini pasta with sardines at Antonette's Classico restaurant

Bucatini pasta with sardines at Antonette's Classico restaurant in Rockville Centre. (Feb. 2012) Credit: Newsday/Peter M. Gianotti

Antonette's Classico brings some Sicilian sunshine to Rockville Centre, with bright and big flavors.

The regular menu at this restaurant, which moved into the former address of the departed Ristorante da Ugo, seems like a familiar combination of Italian and Italian-American favorites.

But there are Sicilian surprises and an array of daily specials that make the eatery a distinctive and essential destination, and a little tour of influences Greek and Roman, Norman and Spanish,  Arab and Parisian.

You'll find excellent pasta con le sarde, the classic dish of bucatini with sardines, fennel, raisins, pine nuts and history. It's Sicily on a plate. Also, sample the refreshing, evocative  salad of sliced oranges, with green olives, onions and parsley, dressed with fruity olive oil. And, if you're fortunate, one of the specials will be a pork braciola with a savory and slightly spicy stuffing: an edible zeppelin paired with fine gnocchi.

For the record, and for the northern-minded, the kitchen prepares an exceptional pappardelle Bolognese, too.

Main dishes at the handsome, traditional restaurant are in the $22-$39 range; pastas, $17-$24; appetizers, soups and salads, $7-$14.

Antonette's Classico, 509 Merrick Rd., Rockville Centre; 516-764-1900.

Bucatini with sardines at Antonette's Classico.

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