Stresa outlasts trends, survives competitors, satisfies diners. The traditional Italian restaurant by now is a Northern Boulevard landmark. And on Saturday, it's jammed.
There are plenty of causes for this, on table and off. But much of it has to do with host and co-owner Giorgio Meriggi, who smoothly oversees the dining room. Whether you're a first-timer or a veteran, he's there for you. Part of Stresa's enduring appeal is the way he runs the place and how polished the service can be on the busiest night of the week.
I hadn't been to Stresa for several years, not since it was refurbished. A grand floral arrangement, botanical prints, evocations of Italy, define the decor and brighten the surroundings.
But the main reason to return, of course, is the food. I sampled an excellent carpaccio of swordfish, light, lemony, with a thin coat of sweet tomato; and a fine, housemade braided pasta finished with pancetta, cabbage, fresh tomatoes and pecorino cheese. Also exceptional: roast duck in a rose-wine sauce, with semolina gnocchi and lentils. You'll enjoy more familiar dishes, too, from bucatini alla Norma to branzino, completed with white wine and capers.
And Stresa still makes delectable biscotti, plus the best chocolate souffle on Long Island.