I was filled with affection for my adopted home-Island last night when the waiter at Steve’s Piccola Bussola II in Syosset handed me the menu. Unadorned with fancy descriptors or chefspeak was a stark document that perfectly captured the regional food of our local Italian-American population. All but one of the dozen appetizers could be explained in two words (fried zucchini, cold antipasto, stuffed artichokes); the outlier was the rambling “octopus (grilled or cold).”
Same with pasta (tortellini panna, pappardelle filetto, etc.), chicken (chicken scarpariello, chicken cacciatore), seafood (mussels marinara, shrimps oreganata), meat (veal piccata, steak Siciliana) and salads, among which you have your choice of combination, chopped, Caesar or tricolor.
Those salads were served in enormous wood-parquet wash basins (what my colleague Joan Reminick calls the salad bowls of cluelessness). The waiters, garbed in short black jackets somewhere between a tuxedos and boleros, were brisk and efficient.
And the food was good. We started with these baked clams and, though they were heavier, breadier and cheesier than I prefer, each shell contained the whole clam that God gave it, and they were very tasty.
Our huge serving of rigatoni Bolognese was well-cooked and not criminally oversauced, nor was there a puddle of water at the bottom of the platter. Chicken Francese was moist and pleasantly lemony.
And of course we have lots of leftovers for lunch today.
Steve’s Piccola Bussola is at 41 Jackson Ave., Syosset, 516-364-8383.