In this week’s Newsday, The Trattoria in St. James vaults into the top tier of Long Island’s Italian restaurants. In November, Eric Lomando sold the casual BYO place (formerly called Kitchen A Trattoria) to his chef, Steven Gallagher. Now, writes Peter M. Gianotti, the place is even better. Gallagher “changes the menu daily. But the results are invariably the same … creative, genuine, fairly priced.” Virtually everything is recommended, “soulful” ribolitta, “terrific” pastas, “superior” desserts. "Reserve a table -- soon."
Joan Reminick reviews Mara’s Too, the new Wantagh offshoot of Mara’s Home Cooking in Syosset, which “is every bit as sassy as the original. Smaller and cuter, too.” Like its big sister, it pays homage to the cuisine of New Orleans, with Southern classics and real, slow-smoked barbecue thrown in for good measure. Recommended: “rousing” okra chicken and andouille gumbo, “lush” crawfish-stuffed baguette, smoked chicken and homestyle pies.