It was love that brought chef Pierluigi "Gigi" Sacchetti from Florence to New York. Following the American woman who would eventually become his wife, Sacchetti started out cooking for the Italian ambassador to the United Nations before opening two successive Manhattan restaurants, La Cantina Toscana and Cipolla Rossa. But he began to weary of the city grind.
Since he lives with his family in Lynbrook, he decided to put his toe into Long Island waters. This summer, every Thursday to Sunday, "Chef Gigi" takes over the kitchen at a waterfront hot dog eatery, Dock's Dog House, which closes after lunch time. Sacchetti then transforms the place into an informal Italian restaurant with patio and sidewalk seating. I see much table-hopping at what already looks like a local favorite.
Like the true Tuscan chef he is, Sacchetti opts for simplicity with expert execution. That's apparent in an appetizer of tender smoky grilled calamari on a bed of arugula. Arugula shows up again in the Toscana salad with pears and Parmesan, as well as in an inspired combo of grilled shrimp with arugula and cannellini beans.
Pig is treated with respect, both in a softly stewed pork shoulder ragu over pappardelle and as juicy double-cut spice-rubbed grilled chops. Sacchetti also does justice to beef in his rosemary-rubbed "tagliata," delectably juicy sliced rib-eye cooked to the degree of doneness ordered.
Sacchetti's "oversize" chicken Parmigiana fills a plate; it's fork-tender, enrobed in the same bright - almost citrusy - tomato sauce that coats the accompanying al dente spaghetti.
A slice of buttery pound cake topped with fresh berries and freshly whipped cream is a fitting finale.
ET TU, GIGI?
A fine roasted filet of wild striped bass is a tad overdone. And spinach linguine tossed with a nice mixture of seafood (shrimp, mussels and clams) in not enough white sauce sticks together. Fries are the ordinary pre-frozen variety rather than the hand-cut kind Sacchetti's food deserves.
Keep in mind that Sacchetti takes reservations. My guess is you'll need them.