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Ciao Baby Commack

This Rat Pack-themed restaurant (Frankie, Dino and Sammy would feel right at home) is better than ever. Come on a weeknight, and you'll find a lounge singer regaling diners with Sinatra favorites and 1960s standards. On weekends, the music is recorded.

Once you're seated, your waiter, in wiseguy garb (black shirt, skinny tie) will straddle a vacant chair or lean over an occupied one, telling you how to order (portions feed at least two, so share), showing you a colander filled with uncooked pasta (what, we don't know what pasta looks like?) Relax and go with the flow.

The Italian fare is boffo. After ordering from the daily-changing menu, you'll be presented with some crusty Italian bread and assorted imported olives with bits of nutty Parmesan cheese in olive oil.

The menu changes weekly. If the rice ball is on the menu, get it. As big as a bocce ball, it's filled with ground beef and peas at its center, dolloped with ricotta, doused with a rich tomato sauce.

Pasta is unerringly al dente and grand. Rigatoni with the aptly named "Grandma's old-fashioned pork sauce" features tender braised pork in a robust tomato sauce. A lusty version of chicken scarpariello, boneless chunks of poultry with potato, sausage, mushrooms and peppers, is redolent of lemon and garlic. And while the seared Chilean sea bass with a balsamic glaze and spinach may not be an old-fashioned dish, most modern nonnas would certainly approve of it.

For dessert, a layered chocolate mousse cake (white, dark and milk chocolates) is okay, but not on a par with what's come before. Better is the rich and creamy tiramisu and an espresso.

The restaurant, which draws large weekend crowds, doesn't accept reservations, so plan accordingly.

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