The house was almost fully packed the night I stopped into Stango’s at the Orchard in Glen Cove, the reinvented version of what is thought to be Long Island's oldest Italian restaurant. Co-owner Helene Suozzi was seating guests, her husband, former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, schmoozing table to table. Everywhere you looked were vintage photos of local families.
More important to me than the politics or history was the food, which was old-fashioned Italian and very good. The crusty bread and addictive focaccia came from St. Rocco's Bakery, a neighborhood standby for fine baked goods. Four of us shared a very good individual “regular” Neapolitan pizza ($9.95) whose crust was crisp around the rim but did sag a bit beneath the confluence of sauce and cheese. Chef Gabriel Massaro’s rendition of Stella’s house salad (named for founding family matriarch Stella Stango Cocchiola) was a colorful toss of greens and vegetables ($5.95) studded with pieces of salami and cheese. Not fancy; just homey and satisfying.
Although the menu says one has to order “Gabe’s half spring chicken special” ($17) in advance, the well-burnished bird was requested and delivered in 40 minutes. It was a winner. Another hit: the melty, delectable eggplant parm ($13.95).
Stango’s at the Orchard is at 19 Grove St., Glen Cove, 516-671-2389.