Even so, the Wantagh Italian restaurant whose name translates as "crazy bull" is nothing to snort at. Aspirations are announced early on when a basket of crusty olive bread, accompanied by a bright caponata spread, is delivered by an earnest, smiling server.
And he's on his game most of the time. Such as the one evening he produced a lovely salad of roasted golden beets with shaved pecorino, toasted almonds and a lemon vinaigrette. And another night, a rich, full-bodied pasta e fagioli, the classic Italian white bean and pasta soup. His crabcakes were mostly crab, loose-textured and deftly spiced. I was particularly taken with a carpaccio of Norwegian smoked salmon with ricotta salata and basil oil that imparted an herbal unctuousness.
But a friend's gnocchi, special-ordered with Bolognese instead of pesto sauce, came out mushy, its sauce highly salted. And a few fishy-tasting Manila clams undermined the otherwise very good linguine d'alba monte bianco made with pancetta, Tuscan beans and baby spinach.
Among better choices was the subtly truffle-scented fresh tagliatelle with shrimp, asparagus, red peppers and cremini mushrooms. And the signature pollo al Toro Pazzo, roasted chicken with sausage, onions, pepperoncini and roasted potatoes, a dish with rustic, robust appeal.
To finish, there was airy tiramisu. And lush panna cotta. Order both and share them with someone worthy.
The trickling of a water-wall near the bar is drowned out by the noisy crowd, which can make the narrow dining room reverberate. A weeknight might work best if it's intimate conversation you're after. But as the kitchen proves nightly, Toro Pazzo has other allures.