With restaurants dropping right and left due to the economic slowdown, it’s a pleasure—and a bit of a relief—to sit in a dining room where the servers can barely keep up with their tables. On a Friday night at the Ivy Cottage, even chef-owner Joseph Lester was pressed into front-of-house service, delivering dishes to hungry patrons. The annoyance of waiting a few extra minutes to get served was pretty much erased by the friendly and hardworking staff. Everyone—hostess, waitresses, busboys, owner—is nice at the Ivy Cottage.
I wish I had enjoyed the food as much as I did the restaurant’s spirit. The best appetizer we had was a platter of sweet and briny littleneck clams on the halfshell. But a crabmeat Napoleon appetizer—crabmeat, avocado and tomato in between layers of fried wonton skins—was pallid, with undersalted crabmeat and tomatoes that, not surprisingly for late October, had little flavor. Potato gnocchi were stodgy, an adjective that took us right into our main courses.
Pork chop stuffed with sausage stuffing then breaded, fried and served with mashed potatoes and sauteed cabbage: stodgy—although the homemade applesauce was good. Fried veal rollatine with mozzarella and prosciutto: stodgy—and made stodgier by the accompanying mashed potatoes. An enormous plate of seafood linguine was undermined by a watery red sauce. I liked the idea of the family-style bowl of mixed vegetables that came with our mains, but they were all underdone. A chocolate-mousse cake was a fittingly undistinguished finale to the meal.
Ivy Cottage is at 38 Hillside Ave., Williston Park, 516-877-2343.