Verde Wine Bar and Ristorante has taken over the Commack Road spot that, since 1993, was Papa Joe's pizzeria. But the business remains in the family.
Owner Anthony Carcaterra is the son of Niel and Cathy Carcaterra, founders of Papa Joe's and Belle Verde Catering. Anthony grew up in the business, then left to work at the New York caterer Abigail Kirsch. Returning to Long Island this past summer, he decided to renovate Papa Joe's and turn it into a modern Italian restaurant.
Appetizers ($7 to $14) include roasted baby beets with maitake mushrooms and goat cheese, grilled octopus pomegranate herb salad, Arborio-crusted scallops with butternut squash and a “polenta board” with mushrooms, short ribs and crispy shallots. Mains (around $20) include house-made cheese ravioli, paccheri with sausage and broccoli rabe, veal chop Valdostana, stuffed roast chicken, cod puttanesca and a burger with foie-gras butter, Fontina, crispy onion and house-made ketchup.
Carcaterra didn't change everything about Papa Joe's. Every entree still comes with a free house salad, and he has kept on the menu some “Papa Joe's classics” such as lasagna Bolognese, eggplant Parmesan, chicken Sorrentino and tripe. (“My mother’s recipe, the best I’ve ever had.”)
His partner is James Ahern, who worked at Butterfields in Hauppauge, among other kitchens.
Verde Wine Bar and Ristorante is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday to Friday and dinner Saturday and Sunday. It is at 450 Commack Rd., Deer Park, 631-242-8902, eatdrinkverde.com.