You may be ready for St. Patrick's Day. But two days later is the Feast of St. Joseph. Start celebrating early. His feast day is a feast, with special dishes and those grand pastries, sfingi and zeppole. Here are three Italian restaurants for full-flavored Italian cuisine.
Franina in Syosset is a handsome restaurant, refined and loaded with excellent dishes. Recommended: spaghetti alla carbonara, pappardelle Bolognese, orecchiette alla Norma, spinach tortelloni with walnuts and brown butter-sage sauce, grilled octopus with white beans, grilled long-stem artichokes, Berkshire pork chop with fennel gratin and sauteed apples, zabaglione for two, biscotti with vin Santo. Expensive.
Franina, 58 W. Jericho Tpke., Syosset, 516-496-9770, franina.com
Mario in Hauppauge is a longtime destination for hearty Italian fare, northern and southern. Recommended: cannelloni, paglia e fieno, trenette with pesto, linguine with clams, spaghetti all'Amatriciana, tripe Napoletana, calf's liver Veneziana, saltimbocca alla Romana, veal chops, rack of lamb, bresaola, spiedino, striped bass with tomatoes and mushrooms, stracciatella soup, hot antipasto, asparagus in carrozza, bresaola, brodetto, cheesecake, zabaglione. Moderate to expensive.
Mario, 644 Vanderbilt Motor Pkwy., Hauppauge, 631-273-9407, restaurantmario.com
Sergio's in Massapequa is modest in appearance but you'll find some big flavors here. Recommended: stuffed artichoke, orange salad, ricotta-stuffed eggplant, escarole and white beans, scungilli in spicy sauce, calamari salad, baked clams oreganata, lasagna, manicotti, baked ziti Siciliano, perciatelli with sardines and fennel, tripe marinara, beef braciola with rigatoni, sausages and peppers, pork chops with vinegar peppers, chicken pizzaiola, chicken parmigiana. Moderate.
Sergio's, 5422 Merrick Rd., Massapequa, 516-541-6554, sergiositalianrestaurant.com