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Family-style Italian restaurants on Long Island

Family-style Italian restaurants spread across Long Island almost as easily as tomato sauce does pasta. Here are some of the top ones. Bring a big appetite.

La Famiglia

Burrata special with parma prosciutto, roasted peppers, tomato,
Credit: Daniel Brennan

La Famiglia (Multiple locations): La Famiglia in Plainview (641 Old Country Rd.), Babylon (90 W. Main St., Babylon), and Smithtown (250 W. Main St.) covers a lot of territory and has the food to fill it. Amiable and unpretentious, the trio is a satisfying example of the genre. Nibble on the cold antipasto, fried calamari with cherry peppers, fried zucchini, and the tricolor salad. You could contentedly follow with pastas such as penne Siciliano, with sausage and eggplant in a slightly spicy marinara sauce; cacio e pepe made with spaghetti; rigatoni Bolognese or capellini with pesto. Substituting fresh gnocchi or fresh cavatelli works with almost all the house's pastas. From there, the main courses to share include chicken and eggplant Parmigiana, on-the-bone chicken scarpariello, and the house's namesake chicken dish, with onions, potatoes, sausage, peppers, and mushrooms. There's competition from chicken alla pizzaiola, veal piccata, the T-bone steak, shrimp scampi-style, and sole oreganata. More info: lafamigliaNY.com

Emilio’s

Frank Semisa with the San Genero Pizzarella at
Credit: Michael Falco

Emilio's (2201 Jericho Tpke., Commack): Emilio's serves family-style, but the single portions are big enough to qualify for the title, too. Emilio's is a local landmark, busy, busy, busy. And it's also a destination for first-class pizzas in many varieties. The friendly staff contributes to the mood. You won't mind the wait on an especially busy weekend night. The offerings are a greatest-hits listing with more than a few newcomers. "Mamma Mia Meatballs" leads the appetizers, starring superior meatballs, with ricotta, red peppers, and garlic bread. Stuffed artichokes are extra-large and loaded with flavor. The "eggplant stack" also is a husky choice, with breaded and thickly cut, tender eggplant, along with mozzarella, tomato and arugula. Eggplant rollatini is its competitor. Rigatoni Napoletana arrives in a lush pink sauce. All the Parmigianas are well-represented, led by chicken, eggplant, veal, meatballs, and fennel sausage. The veal chop Parmigiana ups the ante. There's a refreshing Gorgonzola salad, one that's almost equaled by the artichoke, arugula and Parmesan number. Hero sandwiches and panini also are worth it. Pick any of the red-sauced pastas, notably lasagna and manicotti. and try the cacio e pepe, too. Sole oreganata and veal chop Milanese are dependable selections. And the pizzas include a delicious Grandpa pie with red onion and toasty breadcrumbs as well as mozzarella and tomato sauce; plus classic Sicilian, Margherita, and marinara pies. More info: 631-462-6267, emilioscommack.com

Patrizia’s

Jennifer Creales from Hempstead, Marie Nicole Gerbino from
Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Patrizia's (Multiple locations): Patrizia's in Hicksville (1040 S. Broadway), Massapequa Park (4913 Merrick Rd.) and Hauppauge (358 Vanderbilt Motor Pkwy.) is part of an empire that also has branches in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and New Jersey. Basically, you're covered. Worth visiting for eggplant rollatini, eggplant Parmigiana. burrata all'Amalfitana, or grilled octopus. Zero in on spaghetti and meatballs, bucatini all'Amatriciana, pappardelle Bolognese, linguine with clam sauce, lasagna, and manicotti. Also: chicken, either Milanese or Parmigiana, the double-cut pork chop with vinegar peppers, grilled lamb chops with broccoli rabe. Patrizia's is a destination, too, for wood-oven baked sandwiches, such as chicken with pesto and sausage with peppers and onions; and a broad range of savory red and white pizzas from the wood-burning oven. Have rice balls and potato croquettes with mozzarella on the side. More info: patrizias.com

Piccola Bussola

Hot antipasto with baked clams, stuffed mushrooms, stuffed
Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Piccola Bussola (970 W. Jericho Tpke., Huntington): Piccola Bussola is the family-style scion of La Bussola, the Glen Cove landmark. The more casual Piccola succeeds with bruschetta with garlic bread; stuffed artichokes with olives, capers, anchovies, garlic and breadcrumbs; fried zucchini; escarole salad; meatballs with tomato sauce and ricotta; eggplant "meatballs; "mussels fra diavolo; baked clams; grilled octopus; and seafood salad. The notable pastas: capellini primavera; orecchiette with sausage, broccoli rabe, white beans, and sundried tomato; pappardelle Bolognese; linguine with white clam sauce; and rigatoni all'Amatriciana. For main courses, the reliable choices include chicken piccata, chicken alla pizzaiola, and chicken campagnola, with sausage, red peppers, potatoes, onions, and mushrooms; veal Marsala and Parmigiana; veal chop Milanese; pork chop Marco sautéed with broccoli rabe and cherry peppers; and steak Siciliano, finished with garlic and breadcrumbs. Seaside, catch lobster oreganata or fra diavolo; branzino Livornese; and clams Posillipo. On the side, pick escarole and beans; or roasted cauliflower with fennel, pine nuts, and toasted breadcrumbs. More info: 631-692-6300, piccolabussolarestaurant.com

388 Restaurant

Linguine with white clam sauce at 388 Restaurant
Credit: Bruce Gilbert

388 Restaurant (388 Willis Ave., Roslyn Heights): 388 Restaurant is a popular, easygoing, and even-handed eatery, with genial service and a broad range of choices to share. It can turn into a party on almost any day. The house's seafood salad is headlined with calamari and scungilli in a lemony vinaigrette. Shrimp and lump crabmeat cocktails enrich the choice. Meatball and chicken sliders have the right flavors. Consider the stuffed artichokes, fried zucchini, the zucchini linguine. Leading pastas include the baked ziti with ricotta, and either linguine, whole-wheat linguine, capellini, penne or rigatoni sauced Bolognese, all'Amatriciana, marinara, filetto di pomodoro, alla vodka or with broccoli, garlic and olive oil. Chicken is well-prepared either Parmigiana, Milanese, scarpariello; veal, Marsala or Milanese.  Shrimp is fine marinara. Select the red snapper Milanese or oreganata; salmon, broiled or grilled; sole, oreganata of francese. There's soulful eggplant Parmigiana, veal alla Valdostana for two; and a rosy rack of lamb. Italian cheesecake tops the desserts, along with warm biscotti and cannoli cream. More info: 516-621-3888, 388restaurant.com

Riella’s Homestyle

Nicholas Ciccarelli from Melville, Ciro Ciccarelli from East
Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Riella's Homestyle (3103 N. Jerusalem Rd., Levittown): Riella's Homestyle has a motto: homestyle is family style. That means from the pizza counter to the table. The attractions include stuffed mushrooms, baked clams, seafood salad, and mozzarella with roasted peppers. They should be followed by pasta with diced eggplant, mozzarella, and marinara sauce; baked stuffed shells; baked ziti; baked meat lasagna; baked manicotti; or lobster ravioli. Move on to seafood marinara with calamari, scungilli, and shrimp; calamari or scungilli fra diavolo; Jimmy Boy's bone-in veal chop; veal and peppers; veal Parmigiana; chicken scarpariello; chicken Calabria with spicy peppers; sausage with peppers, onions, and tomato sauce; eggplant rollatini; and eggplant Parmigiana. More info: 516-719-5333, riellashomestyle.com

Matteo’s Trattoria + Bar

Cavatelli pescatore with lobster at Matteo's, Roslyn, Dec.
Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Matteo's Trattoria + Bar (Multiple locations): Matteo's Trattoria + Bar in Huntington (300 W. Jericho Tpke.) and Roslyn (88 Mineola Ave., Roslyn) serves both family-style and individual portions. And many of the dishes go beyond the staples of the Italian-American kitchen. The Huntington restaurant is especially striking for its looks, following an overhaul that took three years. Order the head-on prawns and the salmon carpaccio to begin on a less-traditional note. Or try the shishito peppers paired with prosciutto. Then, opt for the warm mozzarella, burrata, and mozzarella di bufala from the "Mozzarella Bar." Baked clams, zuppa di clams, fried calamari, grilled octopus, eggplant Parmigiana, fried zucchini are all commendable. Wood-fired pizzas include the robiola, with robiola and fresh mozzarella; the Parma, with Gorgonzola, fig compote, arugula, and prosciutto; and the white clam pizzette with chopped fresh clams. Winning pastas: pappardelle with Bolognese sauce; bucatini all'Amatriciana; butternut squash tortellacci with brown butter; ravioli; and linguine with white clam sauce.  The rigatoni ragu, with short rib, sausage, meatballs, ricotta, and tomato also is grand. Main courses go from the rustic sausages with cherry peppers, roasted potatoes, and broccoli rabe to a Berkshire pork chop with white beans and roasted tomato; veal chop Valdostana to New York strip steak with fingerling potatoes and shishito peppers. Pan-seared red snapper and wood-fired branzino head the school of fish. More info:  huntington.matteosristorante.comroslyn.matteosristorante.com

Carnival

May 31, 2009 ----Carnival, Port Jefferson Station, NY.
Credit: NEWSDAY/Jin Lee

Carnival (4900 Nesconset Hwy., Port Jefferson Station): Carnival buoyant and festive, waves the tricolor and offers an extensive, something-for-everyone menu. The husky fare can be served either family-style or, if a diner is in an I've-gotta-be-me mood, individually. Either way, slice into the mozzarella in carrozza, down the littleneck clams Posillipo, and share the seafood salad, grilled octopus salad, and, just because it's available, the beet-and-goat cheese salad. Carnival's pastas include tasty pasta piselli, linguine with white or red clam sauce, rigatoni all'Amatriciana, rigatoni Siciliano with grilled baby eggplant, and heart baked pastas, headed by lasagna, manicotti, and stuffed shells. You'll see a lot of chicken Parmigiana and stir-fried chicken go by. But the main course attractions are led by pork chops with hot and sweet vinegar peppers, saltimbocca, and tripe Neapolitan-style. If you're veering toward seafood: sole Livornese and calamari marinara. Carnival also serves appealing hero sandwiches, panini, calzones, and pizzas. More info: 631-473-9772, carnivalrestaurant.net

Steve’s Piccola Bussola

Steve's Piccola II of Syosset has two rooms
Credit: Steven Sunshine

Steve's Piccola Bussola (Multiple locations): Steve's Piccola Bussola in Westbury (649 Old Country Rd.), Syosset (41 Jackson Ave.), and Hauppauge (352 Wheeler Rd.) serves hearty and full-flavored favorites at each location. The basics: stuffed artichoke, stuffed eggplant, spiedino alla Romana, baked clams, grilled octopus. Follow them with rigatoni Bolognese, spaghetti with meatballs, linguine with white or red clam sauce, linguine with seafood fra diavolo. Then, select chicken campagnola on the bone, pork chop pizzaola, steak pizzaiola, Sicilian steak oreganata-style, or the grilled veal chop with peppers, mushrooms, and onions. Swordfish, either oreganata or Livornese; red snapper marechiaro, and calamari fra diavolo highlight the seafood. More info: stevespiccolabussola.com

Fanatico

Hot cherry peppers and crumbled spicy sausage ignite
Credit: Newsday/Peter M. Gianotti

Fanatico (336 N. Broadway, Jericho): Fanatico is an offspring of Emilio's and serves equally robust food in big portions. Accordingly, it gets as busy as its relative, weekday or weekend. The fundamental selections include, as at Emilio's, the "Mamma Mia Meatballs" opener and the stuffed artichoke. Also, consider rice balls, eggplant rollatini, the "pyramid" of fried mozzarella balls, and the bakes pastas, which take in ziti, ravioli, rigatoni, and lasagna. The "Bronx Tail" veal cutlet arrives slightly breaded, spurred with hot and sweet peppers, tomatoes, assertive provolone, and a mountain of fusilli. There are all the requisite Parmigianas. Red snapper Livornese, sautéed calamari marinara, and lemon sole oreganata top the seafood. Also, consider the calamari arrabbiata. And the pizzas are uniformly recommended, whether you're a fan of Grandpa, Grandma, the white pie, or the "old world" marinara. More info: 516-932-5080, fanatico-restaurant.com

Filomena’s

Kristine Bicchetti and her husband Robert Bicchetti of
Credit: Marisol Diaz-Gordon

Filomena's (1039 Hempstead Tpke., Franklin Square): Filomena's is a warm eatery, inviting and to the point. Family-style dining suits it very well, though not every course is available that way. The kitchen covers all the familiar territory. So, start sharing starters such as seafood salad and baked clams. Sample the pasta e fagioli and the minestrone. Head toward pastas such as linguine with either white or red sauce; cavatelli marinara or with meat sauce; penne with eggplant in marinara sauce, topped with mozzarella; snappy spaghetti alla puttanesca; penne with shrimp sauce; and even fettuccine all'Alfredo. Mild, tasty branzino is served with either a light marinara sauce that floats capers and olives, or simply broiled with lemon, garlic, and seasoned breadcrumbs. Continue the traditional route with either chicken or veal Parmigiana, veal Marsala, and saltimbocca. For a straightforward main course: grilled pork chops and grilled shell steak. More info: 516-437-4919, myfilomenas.com

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