I'm always a bit exasperated when I make plans to go out to dinner with the older Italians in our family. They will only eat Italian food at Italian restaurants. And not tapas-Italian, or fusion-Italian or any other newfangled Italian.
The dinner has to follow a specific protocol: First, an antipasto, like fried calamari; then a primo, perhaps an orecchiette with broccoli rabe, followed by a secondo, a good veal scaloppine, for example. If there’s room, and there always is, a dolce, like a ricotta cheesecake. Double espresso to follow.
The problem for me is respect vs. expansionism. Would a little escargot with Gorgonzola polenta and truffle oil kill these old-schoolers? And if I do hew to their unchanging tradition, there’s the added stress of being responsible for finding the kind of restaurant that fits the bill — that we haven't been to a hundred times before.
The last time I faced this challenge, we ended up at La Bussola in Glen Cove, an oldie but goodie where the entire meal went according to the time-honored road map. I was able to veer a bit off course with my homemade fusilli, sauced with duck confit and mushrooms. But even though I found the menu lacking a progressive sensibility, the beloved elders were fully aglow, confident that what they always knew to be good could not be improved upon.
La Bussola is at 40 School St., Glen Cove, 516-671-2100.
The dining room at La Bussola, Glen Cove