Lunch today at La Piazza on Route 110. This offshoot of La Piazza in Plainview and Merrick opened last night. When I poked my nose in around 7 p.m., there was already a wait for a table. Today’s lunch was much calmer.
The place looks like a stylish, contemporary restaurant and not, as with the Plainview location, a pizzeria with a dining room attached. There’s a comfortable bar (one TV set to Food Network, the other to MSNBC) and a sunny dining room with roomy tables and comfortable booths. Service was friendly and efficient. I would not have guessed that this was Day One.
The food landed squarely in the Long Island Italian tradition, but it was prepared with care. We really dug the capellini cakes, deep-fried morsels of cream-sauced capellini studded with mozzarella, peas and prosciutto and served on a pink sauce. (They didn’t quite reach the heights of the fried capellini at King Umberto in Elmont.) Less successful were slices of fresh mozzarella (purportedly made in house but which didn’t appear to be all that fresh) with not-terribly-ripe tomatoes and garnished with fresh basil, dried oregano, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
My pal’s refined “penne paesana,” with shrimp, broccoli rabe, pine nuts and bread crumbs, was marred only by a surfeit of sliced garlic. I got the “caprino salad” which came in a weird bowl that was higher on one side than the other. It made for a pretty presentation—and, in the right configuration, successfully blocked my lunch companion’s fork—but it made for awkward eating. The salad got its name from the goat cheese sprinkled on top of it, but the stars of the show were the big, plentiful and superbly grilled shrimp. Along for the ride: mesclun, roasted pepper, grilled asparagus, cherry tomatoes and red onion.
La Piazza also has a selection of Italian entrees and a whole menu devoted to artisanal pizzas. Heroes are available at lunch but not dinner.
All in all, a promising addition to the Route 110 dining scene.