Tony Colombos in Rockville Centre is the joint effort of chef Tony Colombo, formerly of Cirella's in Melville, and Art Gustafson, chef-owner of Chadwicks American Chophouse & Bar near the Rockville Centre railroad station. Filament light bulbs give it a contemporary accent, and a caricature of actress Sophia Loren takes up an exposed-brick wall in the dining room. The pasta here is first class, as are the meatballs, but some dishes fall short. Choosing wisely at this Italian eatery will leave you feeling molto satisfied.
Open for dinner, Tuesday to Thursday 5 to 10p.m., Friday 5 to 11 p.m., Saturday 4 to 11 p.m., Sunday 4to 9:30 p.m. Closed Monday.
spaghetti and meatballs, Beef braciola, Pappardelle alla BologneseWebsite Reservations Add an event Correct this listing
Sophia Loren famously said, "Everything you see I owe to spaghetti." A caricature of the incomparably molto actress, complete with quotation, takes up an exposed-brick wall almost the length of the dining room at Tony Colombos Italian Bistro.
Basically, order pasta now.
Tony Colombos sends out plenty of it -- though spaghetti itself is represented only as a companion to meatballs. This buoyant restaurant keeps the river of red sauce running, adds a few tributaries and leads to some unlikely destinations.
It's the joint effort of chef Tony Colombo, formerly of Cirella's in Melville and Mannino's in Oakdale, and Art Gustafson, chef-owner of Chadwicks American Chop House & Bar near the Rockville Centre railroad station. They've overhauled the space that recently housed Cielo, which never quite reached the sky.
Filament light bulbs give it a contemporary accent; other illuminations suggest votive candles. There's a suitably kitschy painting of Venice in one corner, and a barrelhead with the restaurant name emblazoned on it above the fireplace. Naturally, in a wood-framed portrait, there are Dino and Frank, who might have liked the "That's Amore" style.
Try the first-class meatballs as an appetizer. The restaurant prepares a meatball burger, too, on a focaccia roll. Pick the ample rice balls, packed with peas and beef ragù. Good short-rib ragù also is an opener, though it tops pasty baked polenta with ricotta and mozzarella. Billed as "crispy," the long-stem artichokes aren't. A pan pizza with prosciutto, mozzarella and more: forgettable.
That evocative dish of spaghetti and meatballs, however, is worthy of "Lady and the Tramp." Penne all'Amatriciana arrives on the sweet side, but satisfying. Pappardelle alla Bolognese, in a nearly pink sauce with Parmesan cream, takes its liberties, though the result is very flavorful. Lobster carbonara risotto never harmonizes.
A sausage-driven spin on Bolognese sauce boosts the hearty house-made lasagna. Crumbled sweet sausage and broccoli raab elevate garganelli pasta. Meat-filled ravioli have heft but need more. The kitchen prepares a major chicken cutlet Parmigiana and a savory pork cutlet Milanese. Beef braciola, with pine nuts and raisins, tomato-sauced and served on garganelli, is recommended.
Bland, cedar-planked branzino isn't. You're better off with a snowy striped bass special, dubbed Provençal, but closer to the Italian coast.
The fennel salad refreshes after your main course. The best dessert easily is cassata, a classic Sicilian ricotta cake.
They point to another observation by the great Loren: "I eat a lot of salad. ... But I like sweets."