Could a restaurant appear to be more typically Long Island Italian? Yet Ciro's manages to both inhabit and break with stereotype. Credit a singularly caring crew plus some original touches.
COME FLY WITH ME
Chef Robert Mejia's appetizer standards are better-than-standard: a crisp, cool, creamy Caesar salad, briny baked whole littlenecks oreganata, mellow eggplant rollatini. Lots of lump crab meat and very little bread define crab cakes, served with corn relish and a piquant rémoulade.
One side dish intrigues me. "What's burnt broccoli?" I ask Frankie. "Exactly what it sounds like," he says. The crunchy charred garlicky florets are surprisingly good, a mistake gone right.
A showstopper is the delectable, colorful chicken a la Ciro's - juicy, savory bone-in poultry with sausage, potatoes, onion, peppers and broccoli. A large order, at $24, easily feeds four. Chicken Francaise doesn't break any new ground, but it's citrusy and satisfying.
More I'd come back for: meltingly tender gnocchi in a bright filetto di pomodoro sauce, lush meatballs over spaghetti as well as linguine bathed in a marine-sweet, garlic-enhanced white clam sauce with whole littlenecks.
Worth ditching a diet for: the moist, rich tiramisu and the signature Napoleon, puff pastry layered and coated with freshly whipped cream. Yea for that.
A basket of pedestrian Italian bread, toasted and dry. Worse yet is salty pasta e fagiole made with mushy penne.
Tuesday is pasta night, when $11.95 buys any pasta from the regular menu, along with soup or salad, dessert and coffee. On Wednesday, "parmigiana" night, $13.95 (choose among chicken, veal, shrimp and eggplant parm) is a similar deal.
Ciro's accepts reservations for parties of four or more.