The walls are a dark-hued cream yellow, the floors are brick, many of the tables are bathed in filtered light---the Tuscan theme is undeniable as is the menu of mostly classic Italian victuals, served with upscale personality. Open meals with light bites of butternut squash, roasted beets, grilled zucchini and other cooked vegetables, or partake in a selection of smaller fried treats--artichokes, arancini rice balls and seafood are among the plates. Antipasto, salad and soup are also available to open meals--a group of entrées that are based around pasta, chicken, beef, pork, veal and fish. Sides of potatoes, asparagus and broccoli rabe complete the possibilities, with the ambiance filling in the rest of the dining experience.
5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 5:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 5 p.m. 8 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday.
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Trattoria Diane is on a Roman holiday.
Chef-owner John Durkin has remade his restaurant, looking to Lazio and channeling his inner Etruscan. The result is wonderful: a vacation from every generic Italian meal you've had on Long Island.
Durkin moves a province south from his previous Tuscan theme, but hasn't totally abandoned the region, which de-Frenched the kitchen more than a dozen years ago.
Durkin keeps some of the popular dishes, notably the "Tuscan" pot roast with Parmesan-mashed potatoes and the three-berry pie. But his latest affection for Roman dishes is the new reason to eat here.
The dining room also has been restyled a bit, while remaining a very attractive, understated, rustic spot, from the exposed brick floor upward. Dinner is so refreshing, you'll feel like tossing a coin in a fountain before reaching for a credit card.
Vegetables finally become stars. Enjoy perfectly roasted beets cut with ricotta salata, radicchio finished with almonds and balsamic vinegar, sweet-sour butternut squash with mint, and crisp threads of Brussels sprouts dressed with lemon and pecorino cheese. The highlight, however, is fried artichokes, a delicious, less-crunchy variation on the traditional, sunflower-shaped carciofi alla giudia. Arancini, or rice balls, are treats.
Durkin sends out a flawless fritto misto of shrimp, scallops and mushrooms; and flavorful little meatballs in a light, mellow rosemary-tomato sauce. He prepares a classic spaghetti alla carbonara, smoky, peppery and egg-free; zesty bucatini all'Amatriciana; and sensational gnocchi, in pink sauce spiced with crumbled sausage.
Butternut-squash ravioli in brown butter: a delight. Try the tender pan-roasted pork chop with raisin polenta and peppercorn sauce; juicy roasted chicken; and a genuine saltimbocca.
Conclude with an affogato, espresso over ice cream; tiramisu; and, if available, bombolini - the ultimate doughnut holes.
The organic salmon, boosted by lentils and red-wine sauce, is an also-ran in this company. So are the grilled portobello-mushroom and Caesar salads. Good panna cotta and angel food cake.
THE BOTTOM LINE
La dolce vita
Trattoria Diane is located at 21 Bryant Ave., Roslyn, 516-621-2591