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Mannino's in Commack: First bites

Grilled octopus with endive, roasted peppers, celery, lemon

Grilled octopus with endive, roasted peppers, celery, lemon and olive oil is served at Mannino's in Commack. Credit: Newsday/ Peter M. Gianotti

In the middle of this fill-in-the-blank winter, you'll find some warmth at the new Mannino's in Commack.

Relocated from a much smaller spot on Commack Road, this branch of Mannino's rises on the former site of To Fu. It's a sprawling, two-story affair devoted to Italian-American favorites, all served with welcoming style. Of course, the restaurant is packed.

One reason is the excellent grilled octopus, tossed with slivers of endive, red peppers and celery, finished with a lemon-and-olive oil dressing. Try the tender, tasty baked clams oreganata. Turn any day into Sunday with the house's rigatoni in a savory meat sauce, capped with a scoop of fresh ricotta. And a special of pan-seared pork chop deserves to be a regular. The juicy chop is showered with hot cherry peppers and paired with delicious, poker-chip-sized fried potatoes. The familiar desserts range from cannoli to zabaglione.

Mannino's also has branches in Smithtown and Oakdale.

But make this your first stop.

Mannino's Italian Kitchen & Lounge, 2158 Jericho Tpke., Commack; 631-462-0909.

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