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Italian restaurant Taormina Ristorante & Pizzeria serves comfort food in Commack

Baked clams at Taormina Ristorante & Pizzeria in

Baked clams at Taormina Ristorante & Pizzeria in Commack. Photo Credit: Newsday/ Joan Reminick

A yen for robust Italian-American fare drew me to Commack, where Taormina Ristorante & Pizzeria  qualifies as a strip mall find. You've been to places like this many times: a pizza parlor up front, a dining room in the rear. This one is particularly warm and welcoming.

The bread basket held a fresh, crusty and porous loaf. Also admirable was an appetizer of baked clams, the briny bivalves crowned with crumbs and served in a light and lemony sauce. The citrus theme continued with an entree of chicken Francese, fork-tender egg-battered cutlets sauteed in a lemon-butter-wine sauce, the rendition the near-clone of one I regularly ordered years ago at a long-departed Brooklyn restaurant.  Not nearly so impressive was the overcooked pork chop "Taormina,"  which was dry despite the garlic sauce blanketing it. But two pastas -- rigatoni alla Amatriciana (with tomatoes, onion and prosciutto) as well as penne with baby eggplant -- managed to be at once vibrant and mellow.

A place to keep in mind when you're in need of Italian-American culinary comfort.

Taormina is at 34 Veterans Memorial Hwy., Commack, 631-499-6900.


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