On a busy night, the check at La Parma arrives before it's requested. Consider that an act of kindness.
Speeding the experience improves it. The latest La Parma, in Port Washington, continues a decades-long tradition of forgettable food. The chainlet stresses family-style dining. But individual portions are available, minimizing the impact.
The main course at La Parma, which has other branches in Williston Park, Oceanside and Huntington, is marketing, beginning with those long-dimmed stars that immediately follow its name on its logo. Consider them asterisks.
Port Washington's eatery is on the site that used to be occupied by 415 Main. You still get a partial water view, beyond the parking lot. Accordingly, it's the best-looking in the quartet.
But when the place is crowded and the staff stretched, dessert may materialize while there are enough crumbs on the tablecloth to bread a cutlet.
You'll find only passable eggplant rollatine; slightly better linguine with white clam sauce; baked clams oreganata and seafood salad. But the rigatoni al filetto di pomodoro wouldn't get honorable mention at your local pizzeria. Papery, bland fried calamari make you mourn all the sacrificed squid. Dressing for the La Parma salad: an acid test.
Stuffed mushrooms contain more water than the office cooler and the stuffed artichoke emerges drier than C-SPAN. Mozzarella just slides off the the veal Parmigiana, which has the imprint of an abusive tenderizer and texture rivaling Gerber 2nd Foods. "Chicken Chinese" equals overdone bird in muddy sauce, with whole garlic cloves. Many are used here, referred to as "potatoes" by waiters. The garlic typically is burned brown-black outside and almost raw within, making it a perfect partner for stemmy, soggy broccoli rabe.
And, yes, skip dessert.
La Parma on the Bay is at 415 Main St., Port Washington; 516-439-4960.