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Gino's of Kings Park review: Good value, big portions make this eatery a hit

Chicken Parmigiana at Gino's of Kings Park.

Chicken Parmigiana at Gino's of Kings Park. Credit: Benjamin Petit

Booming decibel levels and big portions define the new Gino's of Kings Park (under the same family ownership as the Gino's restaurants in Nesconset, Seaford and Northport). Here, weekend dinner often comes with a din. Yet those grabbing a slice in the pizzeria section or settling into the dining room seem oblivious to the racket. Credit the vibrancy of the value-priced fare for making this an instant neighborhood hit.

One surprise on a menu that seems cloned from countless strip-mall spots is butternut squash soup, a resonant puree enhanced by a hint of apple. It actually beats out the restaurant's respectable pasta e fagioli. Consider sharing hot antipasto for two, which features grilled artichoke hearts -- from a can -- subtly smoky, topped with red pepper flake aioli. It somehow works, as do briny bread-crumb-topped baked clams and stuffed mushrooms filled with a spinach-crumb-mozzarella mix. Fried zucchini sticks, though, are all about the crust. Forgo them and focus on the opulent eggplant rollatini and plump shrimp oreganata. You might also want to share a bright, crisp-crusted "personal" whole-wheat Margherita pizza. Or get a slice of the full-flavored Old World pie, which reverses the usual order, with sauce on top of cheese, bread crumbs over all.

The kitchen comes through with the kind of dishes most people crave: lush, well-seasoned meatballs over red-sauced spaghetti. And rich penne alla vodka with diced prosciutto. The classic chicken parm is tender, well-presented. And, thankfully, chicken Marsala isn't overly sweet. While chicken scarpariello (with sausage, peppers and potatoes and rosemary wine sauce) stars boneless breasts instead of bone-in poultry, the dish is eminently likable, as is the lusty chicken pizzaiola with peppers, onions, tomato sauce and mushrooms. But grilled chicken Lupa, crowned with broccoli rabe, cherry peppers and mozzarella, features poultry that's thin and somewhat dry under way too many ingredients. Better, one night, is a side pasta: spaghetti with garlic and oil that's simple and ideal.

Finales like caramel apple cake with ice cream and creme brulee cheesecake aren't made in-house, but they satisfy nonetheless. Satisfying, as well: the tab, which should be relatively light, given the weight of the doggy bags you'll be carrying to your car.

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