At first glance, Centro Cucina looks like just another “pizzeria-plus,” where half the family can have pizza, while the other half has pasta or eggplant Parmesan.
Then you look a little closer: There are the tablecloths. And the wine is served in good stemware. The refrigerated display cases hold not sub fixings but whole fish—Tuesday night, yellowtail, branzino and orata plus live lobsters and langoustines. On the counter where the cash register should be is a steel container of extra-virgin olive oil imported directly from Sicily. The brick oven actually burns wood. The menu has virtually no spelling errors.
I started with octopus and cuttlefish, marinated, grilled and served on mixed greens. It was fantastic. My friend ordered one of the best trecolori salads I’ve had—a huge pile of fresh bitter greens (arugula, endive and radicchio) dressed lightly with lemon and olive oil. Two balsamic-free appetizers! What could be bad?
My pal’s special of veal braciole with angel-hair pasta was tasty, if not luxuriant. My pizza, I’m sorry to say, was a disappointment. The chopped, fresh Roma tomatoes topping my “campagnola” were not up to the standard set by the pizza’s sausage, smoked mozzarella and mushrooms. And the crust itself, while perfectly cooked, was bland and lacked the sturdy, resilient structure that comes from a great dough.
But there is much more that I want to eat at Centro Cucina, starting with those whole grilled fish and moving on to spaghetti alle vongole. I’ll probably give the pizza another try too.
Centro Cucina is at 43C Glen Cove Rd., Greenvale, 516-484-3880, centrocucinacafe.com.