With my shrewd ordering, I won the lunch competition today at Tre Scalini in Melville. This minestrone was mellow (with a hint of a pepper kick) and loaded with tender vegetables. My chicken Francese had a delicate crust and a tangy sauce—and there was a whole lot of it for $11. If there are two more dependable dishes to order at an Italian restaurant, I don’t know what they are. I doubt I’ve ever had a bad chicken Francese. (Etymological note: “Francese” means “French style” in Italian and the dish was invented in New York by an Italian chef who was no doubt trying to come up with something that seemed more French than, say, veal Parmesan.)
My companions (the losers) didn’t fare as well. Both started with mesclun salads featuring too much vinegar and pink tomatoes. An enormous plate of linguine in clam sauce was swimming in liquid, and spaghetti with pesto was highly dispiriting. The dish was a murky shade of olive with none of the bright color or bright taste of fresh basil.
Tre Scalini is at 672 Walt Whitman Rd., Melville, 631-673-1766.