Il Villagio takes over the cozy dining room of the departed Blue Sky Bistro. It's more down to earth. But this trattoria-style eatery opens as a comfortable spot, with satisfying food and a welcome-to-the-neighborhood style. No one feels like a stranger here. The restaurant's look has changed, now painted in a warm, coppery-bronze hue to suggest vintage walls; it's decorated with paintings of Venice from the above-the-sofa school. Il Villagio isn't about the trend del giorno. You'll find familiar favorites and some specials that earn their title, fairly priced and presented with some flair. And the background music goes from late Sinatra to early Beach Boys.
Some very good pastas here, ranging from the airy gnocchi in a fine sauce all'Alfredo, to the straightforward penne all'Amatriciana, awash in light red and slightly smoky. A special of fettuccine in an otherwise thin cream sauce turns nearly regal with shavings of black truffle. Ribbons of cuttlefish in a well-spiced sauce with cherry tomatoes and white beans top the appetizers. Snappy salads include the union of arugula, fennel and Parmesan cheese; arugula with Gorgonzola cheese, walnuts and a julienne of pear; and the tricolor finished with Parmesan. Broiled branzino accented with olive oil and parsley; and a thick cut of halibut capped with cherry tomatoes and olive oil highlight the fish, with flavorful mashed potatoes and cabbage on the side. A version of saltimbocca, made with chicken and amply saged, also stands out. Cannoli capped with sweet orange peel; and a gentle tiramisu are this Villagio's big finales.
Chewy baked clams oreganata and a dull crab cake that's short on shellfish; a bland pepper stuffed with shrimp, cubes of mozzarella and asparagus; overcooked beef medallions in a watery red-wine sauce; dry cheesecake; pasty, dense bread pudding
THE BOTTOM LINE
Il Villagio Trattoria Italiana is located at 366 Hempstead Ave., Malverne, 516-792-6336