Two dreams intersect at Caci North Fork, the Italian restaurant that opened last week in Southold. Although founders Anthony and Daniele Cacioppo had never run a restaurant, they had long dreamed of establishing one on the North Fork, where the Manhasset couple has a had home since 1995. Two years ago, on a trip to Umbria, they met chef Marco Pellegrini, who had long dreamed of moving to the United States. The Cacioppos, along with Anthony’s brother, Joseph, bought and restored the building that had once been EON — Elements of Nature, and began the even more laborious process of bringing Pellegrini, his wife and children to America.
Caci, short for Cacioppo, has a simple, rustic elegance (Daniele spearheaded the design). The crisp white walls and warm wooden floors, exposed beams and table tops provide a neutral backdrop to the food. I dined there before the restaurant was a week old, and chef Pellegrini’s food richly deserved the spotlight: A Caprese salad of heirloom tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella ($18) was garnished with fresh oregano, lending an unexpected woodsy note; grilled veal chop ($37) was simple and delicious. Pastas bore the unmistakable touch of a maestro — delicate tagliatelle tossed with wild mushrooms and good olive oil ($29); whole-wheat maltagliati (“badly cut” pasta triangles, $23) were sauced with a mellow, verdant pesto. An unorthodox tiramisu (served in a bowl drifted with cocoa powder) and vibrant blueberry sorbetto (both $11) were fitting finales.
Authentic Italian restaurants are in short supply on Long Island and Caci North Fork has the makings of a contender. The Cacioppos and Pellegrini seem committed to the long haul. Fingers crossed.
Caci North Fork is at 56125 Main Rd., Southold, 631-765-4383.