This restaurant has closed due to fire.
Mio, as in "O Sole," is a little sunburst of a restaurant, sure to make that summer twilight last.
The festive Italian spot moves into the cozy quarters once occupied by Tease and Lemongrass. Redesigned and retooled, it seems a bit more spacious and a lot more relaxed.
Colors of the sun and the sea dominate, down to the blue shirts and gold ties on the waiters. Sunflowers decorate each table. It all seems a whimsical ode to coastal Italy, across the street from the Roslyn pond.
So, start with a lively seafood salad, sporting plump scallops, shrimp and ringlets of squid, lightly dressed. Or sample the mellow baby clams steamed with garlic and white wine.
Carpaccio arrives on the chilly side, but it's tender, atop a hillock of arugula, accented with Parmesan cheese. Prosciutto and ripe figs are a classic, salty- sweet alternative.
Fried calamari: crisp, gilded, tender, with a snappy marinara sauce, if you're inclined. A squirt of lemon, however, will suffice. You'll also like the marinated and grilled calamari.
Gently smoky, grilled long-stem artichoke hearts are a satisfying starter. Likewise, grilled polenta with a cap of melted fontina cheese and a perimeter of sauteed mushrooms. Skip the tired soup of lentils and pasta.
Mio does, however, excel with housemade pastas. An outstanding choice is dubbed cavatelli al fresco. The ricotta pasta is paired with roasted garlic, basil, chopped fresh tomatoes and shavings of ricotta salata. It's light, balanced, delectable. Cavatelli alla Bolognese, with meat sauce, is the competition.
Featherweight gnocchi are creamily sauced with Gorgonzola and Parmesan cheese. It's a terrific dish. The airy gnocchi also are afloat in a veal-and-chicken ragu. Mio prepares a quartet of ravioli, with vegetables, mushrooms, seafood and ricotta.
Trailing these pastas are linguine, with olive oil, garlic and very stemmy broccoli rabe; and a workmanlike rigatoni alla vodka with smoked salmon. The dry pastas improve with penne, paired with eggplant and fresh mozzarella in tomato sauce; and whole-wheat linguine, with scallops, tomatoes and garlic.
Mio's showy main course is the whole striped bass for two, crisp-skinned and snowy within, served with a warm drizzle of olive oil, lemon, garlic and parsley. The fish is moist, delicate, right.
But a whole pompano for one suffered from the restaurant's weekend popularity. Saturday night fever must have contributed to the extreme overcooking.
Veal Milanese, breaded, sauteed and finished with a chopped salad, also is on the dry side. You're better off with the grilled veal chop; or with the paillard of beef, a steak pounded to a reasonable thinness, grilled and showered with mushrooms. A rack of lamb, with small, juicy chops, is juicy and rife with rosemary.
For dessert, consider the refined tiramisu, as boozy as it is espressoed; a vinous zabaglione for two atop berries; and the modest Italian cheesecake.
Apple strudel is pretty limp; coconut crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e, similar to coconut custard pie, minus top and bottom. Chocolate "heaven" comes to earth ultrasweet. And the berry crÃ¨pes are merely nostalgic. The fruit tart with berries is all right, but one with those ripe figs would suit Mio more.
And, in an eclectic moment, the kitchen makes a lush banana cream pie. It should have you leaving in full voice.
Reviewed by Peter M. Gianotti, 9/7/03.