When Verace in Islip opened in January 2010, the kitchen was helmed by Francesco Torre, a Tuscan native who was key in creating the restaurant’s “true Italian” concept. (“Verace” means “truthful” in Italian.) Portions tended toward the small-plate variety; the idea was that diners would compose a dinner from three (or four or five) small plates.
Torre left in January 2011 and Verace has evolved into a much more traditional Italian-American restaurant, albeit a good one.
Gone are the “sfizi,” pre-appetizers such as prosciutto-provolone crisps and honey-and-cheese crostini. There is still a nice selection of Italian salumi (cold cuts), a cheese lineup of usual suspects. Torre’s salad of apples, blue cheese and candied pecans, his still-excellent Caesar and his Asiago “sformato” now share the appetizer menu with steamed mussels and fried calamari, among others.
Pizzas used to be rectangular; they are now round. Pasta is still made on the premises and is now available in two sizes: small plates range from $7 to $10; large from $12 to $19. My small portion of spaghetti carbonara was a great value at $9. As per usual in the United States of America, it consisted of pasta in a mild, cheese-enriched cream sauce rather than an aggressively peppered, creamless confluence of egg, cured pork and cheese. But it was tasty nonetheless, the pasta itself particularly good.
Where meat dishes used to be small-plated and priced under $20, they are now full-size and range from the high teens for chicken to high 20s for steak. I had the veal Marsala ($27), a big portion of very tender veal somewhat overwhelmed by mushroom sauce. My pal had shrimp over linguine ($17) whose pesto sauce lacked its signature verdancy and was compromised by strips of red pepper.
Verace still has one of the most stylish dining rooms on Long Island, and I was reminded, upon entering, its lovely outdoor patio. The service is very good, the wine list excellent.
If Verace no longer has the ambitions of its original incarnation, it’s a good place to eat nonetheless.
Verace is at 599 Main St., Islip, 631-277-3800.