Your bountiful holiday gift has arrived.
Pentimento, for years among Long Island's leading Italian restaurants, is at a new peak under chef Massimo Fedozzi, whose stellar cooking defined the now-gone Palio in Jericho and Vero in Amityville.
Dennis Young, the owner-chef who opened Pentimento and made it into a constantly evolving, three-star spot for Italian and New American cuisines, turned over the kitchen to Fedozzi in summer. And Fedozzi has transformed the dining room into a destination for regional Italian fare with the taste of authenticity.
The look is the same, sporting a soft glow, light hues, dark wood, decorated with vintage food posters. There are different levels and rooms, the most comfortable being the largest, off the maitre d's station. Service is attentive and efficient throughout.
Fedozzi makes almost every course into a special. You could start with well-sourced cheeses and cured meats. But order small plates, or piattini. Standouts: caponata, a truly appetizing version of the sweet-sour eggplant relish; addictive polenta fries with roasted garlic aioli; savory pork ribs; mellow Arborio rice balls; sliders, with either meatballs, oysters or lamb. Overdone, fried porcini mushrooms and a pasty tomato confit spread trail them.
Pastas are exceptional. Fedozzi fashions delicious tortelli, filled with roasted butternut squash, finished in butter-sage sauce. They have a hint of amaretto. Nutty, buttery Peconic Bay scallops elevate excellent fettuccine. The shellfish also highlight a parsley risotto with Parmesan cheese and fried carrots. Earthy and elegant are the agnolotti del plin, or Piedmontese veal ravioli, in a porcini mushroom sauce. Gnocchi alla Bolognese, in a soulful meat sauce, and lasagna alla Portofino, with pesto and béchamel, green beans and potato, are easily recommended, too.
Grilled filet mignon, here completed with seared foie gras, black truffle and a Chianti reduction, improves on the beef at countless high-end steakhouses. The tender, pan-roasted Berkshire pork chop on braised cabbage, with mostarda, arrives both rustic and refined. Stufato, or the stew of the day, once was a terrific, long simmering of beef and vegetables that will brace you contentedly for the fiercest winter.
The desserts matter. Sample a classic chocolate tart paired with tart amarena cherries and chocolate-tinted crème fraîche; a lush torta di ricotta served in a small Mason jar and capped with a pear compote; very good roasted apple-and-black currant bread pudding; respectable bomboloni, or cinnamon-sugar dusted doughnuts; a perfectly poached pear with chocolate mousse and a red-wine reduction; or any of the gelati and sorbets.
Reserve soon. Unwrap Pentimento.