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Family-style Italian restaurants on Long Island

Big portions shared by all — it’s one of the most popular ways to dine out in Nassau and Suffolk.

During the past four decades, Italian-American, family-style restaurants have sprouted as fast as basil in the garden. Many of them also offer servings for one.

Here’s our pick of the crop for generous, very satisfying, full-flavored meals, where every day seems like Sunday. You won’t leave hungry.


Rigatoni with broccoli rabe,  homemade chicken meatballs,
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Butera’s (Multiple locations): Butera’s has buoyant restaurants in Woodbury (7903 Jericho Tpke.), Smithtown (65 E. Main St.) and Sayville (100 Main St.). The menus are comparable, if not always identical. They’re all fond of chicken meatballs. Notable in Woodbury: Sicilian-style calamari with cherry peppers and capers, and rigatoni with a ragu enriched with short rib. Linguine with clams, and eggplant Parmigiana are staples. In Sayville, you’ll be drawn to the pasta arrabbiata, fueled by cherry peppers; penne with sausage, escaroleand white beans; and the grilled fish of the day. More info:


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

Patrizia’s (Multiple locations): Patrizia’s in Hicksville (1040 S. Broadway) and Massapequa Park (4913 Merrick Rd.) is popular for its red and white pizzas, plus an extensive menu. There are branches in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and New Jersey, too. Make your trip for eggplant rollatine and burrata all’Amalfitana, spaghetti and meatballs, linguine with clams, lasagna and manicotti, chicken either Parmigiana or Milanese, the double-cut pork chop with vinegar peppers, and the grilled lamb chops with broccoli rabe. The wood-oven baked sandwiches will get your attention, too. More info:


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

Emilio’s (2201 Jericho Tpke., Commack): Emilio's serves family-style, but the portions are big enough so a single easily feeds two. This bustling eatery also is a destination for first-class pizzas. Be sure to try the “Mamma Mia Meatballs’ appetizer, which includes ricotta, red peppers, and garlic bread. Stuffed artichokes are generous and flavorful. The “eggplant stack” also is a husky choice, with breaded and thickly cut, tender eggplant, with mozzarella, tomato and arugula. Rigatoni Napoletana arrives in a respectable pink sauce. The repertoire of Parmigianas is led by chicken, eggplant, veal, meatballs and fennel sausage. The veal chop Parmigiana ups the ante. The pizzas include the Grandpa pie, with red onion and toasty breadcrumbs as well as mozzarella and tomato sauce; and classic Sicilian, Margherita, and marinara pies. More info: 631-462-6267, 

La Spezia

La Spezia offers the pleasures of eating family-style
Photo Credit: Bruce Gilbert

La Spezia (400 Glen Cove Ave., Sea Cliff): La Spezia delivers the standards of the genre with straightforward, unpretentious style. That means beginning with, for example, either zuppa di clams with red or white sauce or calamari arrabbiata with spicy red sauce. Stuffed artichokes are a seasonal specialty; warm mozzarella with roasted peppers, a year-rounder. Pasta with meatballs and sausage defines Sunday. Cheese ravioli, zucchini linguine, and paccheri with sauteed shallots, prosciutto and cream sauce are commendable. Likewise, veal chop Valdostana and chicken with lemon sauce. More info: 516-801-4155,


Piccola Bussola

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

Piccola Bussola (Multiple locations): Piccola Bussola in Huntington (970 W. Jericho Tpke.) and in Mineola (159 Jericho Tpke.) are the offspring of La Bussola, the Glen Cove landmark. The more casual Piccola duet’s specialties include bruschetta with garlic bread; stuffed artichoke; meatballs with ricotta; grilled octopus; mussels fra diavolo; escarole salad; capellini primavera; orecchiette with sausage, broccoli rabe, sundried tomato, white beans, oil and garlic; chicken campagnola with sausage, peppers, onions, potatoes and mushrooms; grilled steak Sicilian with crushed-garlic breadcrumbs; lobster fra diavolo; and branzino Livornese. More info: 


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

388 (388 Willis Ave., Roslyn Heights): 388 is an easygoing, even-handed spot, with friendly service and a broad range of choices to be shared. Shrimp, calamari and scungilli headline the house’s seafood salad, finished with a lemony vinaigrette. Shrimp and lump crabmeat cocktails also stand out. Then, either meatball or chicken Parmigiana sliders, fried zucchini, stuffed artichokes, red snapper either oreganata or Livornese, baked ziti with ricotta, breaded and grilled chicken Salvatore, cannoli and warm biscotti with cannoli cream. More info: 516-621-3888,

Riella’s Homestyle

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

Riella’s Homestyle (3103 N. Jerusalem Rd., Levittown): Riella’s Homestyle lives up to its full name, from the pizza counter to the table, welcoming and to the point, it will attract you with stuffed mushrooms; seafood salad; mozzarella with roasted peppers; pasta with diced eggplant, mozzarella and marinara sauce; “downtown” seafood marinara with calamari, scungilli and shrimp; Jimmy Boy’s bone-in veal chop, Sorrento-style; chicken either scarpariello or campagnola; eggplant rollatine and Parmigiana; sweet sausage with peppers, onions and tomato sauce. More info: 516-719-5333, 

Matteo’s Trattoria + Bar

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

Matteo’s Trattoria + Bar (Multiple locations): Matteo’s Trattoria + Bar in Huntington (300 W. Jericho Tpke.) and Roslyn (88 Mineola Ave.) reflects a refined, stylish approach to family-style dining, with dishes that go beyond the mainstays of the Italian-American kitchen. And the Huntington restaurant, which took three years to open, is striking for its looks and flair as well as the food. So, order the head-on prawns and the salmon carpaccio. Sample warm mozzarella, burrata and mozzarella di bufala from the Mozzarella Bar” Savor the pappardelle with Bolognese sauce, braised pork shank, strip steak with potatoes and shishito peppers, and the bombolini, which are Italian filled doughnuts by way of zeppole. More info:


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

Carnival (4900 Nesconset Hwy., Port Jefferson Station): Carnival earns its name with a festive style and ample portions, served individually or family-style. Sample the mozzarella in carozza, grilled octopus salad, littleneck clams Posillipo, seafood salad, and the beet and goat cheese salad.  Fortified, move onto pasta pisellli, linguine with white or red clam sauce, rigatoni all’Amatriciana, or rigatoni Siciliano, with grilled baby eggplant. The baked pastas include stuffed shells, manicotti, and lasagna. Chicken Parmigiana and stir-fried chicken are standards here. Pork chops with hot and sweet vinegar peppers, tripe Neapolitan-style, and saltimbocca are among the specialties. And if you’re looking for a seafood main course, sole Livornese and calamari marinara will do. Carnival also offers panini, hero sandwiches, calzones, and pizzas. More info: 631-473-9772, 

Ciao Baby

Ciao Baby in Commack serves Nonna's Old World
Photo Credit: Bruce Gilbert

Ciao Baby (5074 Sunrise Hwy., Massapequa Park): Ciao Baby is an exclamation point of a restaurant with a hefty repertoire. The rice ball with ground meat, peas, tomato sauce, fresh ricotta and melted mozzarella finds an impressive rival in the eatery’s jumbo meatball. And remember Nonna’s Old World Meat Platter, loaded with meatballs, hot and sweet sausages, pork and beef bones, fresh ricotta and San Marzano tomato sauce. The Sunday beef ragu, pork shank osso buco and eggplant lasagna, and, yes, yellowfin sesame tunaunderscore the variety. More info: 516-799-5200,


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

Fanatico (336 N. Broadway, Jericho): Fanatico is a relative of Emilio’s, serving similarly robust food in big portions.  Accordingly, it gets very busy very fast whether you’re planning on a weekday or weekend visit. The essential selections include, as at Emilio’s, the “Mamma Mia Meatball” appetizer and the stuffed artichoke. Also, consider rice balls, the “bloomin’” cauliflower oreganata, eggplant rollatini, the “pyramid” of fried mozzarella balls, and baked pastas, including ziti, ravioli, rigatoni, and lasagna. The “Bronx Tail” veal cutlet shows up lightly breaded, accented with hot and sweet peppers, tomatoes, sharp provolone, and a hillock of fusilli. Roasted, clay-pot red snapper Livornese, sautéed calamari marinara, and lemon sole oreganata lead the seafood. And the pizzas are uniformly recommended, whether Grandpa, Grandma, white, or “old world” marinara. More info: 516-932-5080, 

Mamma Lombardi’s

Penne a la vodka is topped with fresh
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Mamma Lombardi’s (400 Furrows Rd., Holbrook): Mamma Lombardi’s has been preparing Neapolitan specialties for more than 40 years. The long-simmered gravy still excels. Essentials: pasta piselli, spaghetti with olive oil and garlic, perciatelli with eggplant, penne arrabbiata, lasagna with tomatoand meat sauce, stuffed shells, baked manicotti, nguine puttanesca, rigatoni all’Amatriciana, pork braciola, pork chops with vinegar peppers, chicken and sausage campagnola, chicken alla cacciatora, tripe Napoletana, mussels Posillipo, lobster fra diavolo. More info: 631-737-0774,

Steve’s Piccola Bussola

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

Steve’s Piccola Bussola (Multiple locations): Steve’s Piccola Bussola in Westbury (649 Old Country Rd.) and Syosset (41 Jackson Ave.) serves uphearty and tasty favorites at both locations. Pick at random from the stuffed eggplant, spiedino alla Romana, stuffed artichoke, baked clams oreganata, grilled octopus, rigatoni Bolognese, spaghetti with meatballs, linguine with white or red clam sauce, chicken campagnola on the bone, steak alla pizzaiola, steak Sicilian sliced and finished organata-style, swordfish either oreganata or Livornese, red snapper marechiaro and calamari fra diavolo. More info:


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