Blog post from June 2010
I don’t ask much from lunch: a nice salad not drenched in balsamic vinaigrette, pasta sparingly sauced with a simple marinara, a good burger on a good roll. And yet, all too often, these minimal needs go unmet.
Today’s meal at Vittorio’s was an object lesson in thoughtful lunch service. Salads were made up of just a few types of fresh leaves—romaine with some mesclun thrown in for good measure—and dressed lightly with a lemon vinaigrette. One friend’s house salad was showered in Gorgonzola; another’s came with well-seared scallops and a few mandarin orange segments. Nothing fancy, just good. Penne was cooked well; the lively marinara sauce was something you'd be happy to have made at home. I had an excellent burger that someone in the kitchen had smartly seasoned before grilling. It was on an ideal bun: sesame-sprinkled, slightly smaller than the burger, pliant but not forgettable.
We were intrigued by the sound of chocolate-polenta cake, but it turned out to be a rather dense, overly sweet fudge tart, polenta not perceptible. Espresso could have been hotter, but the service was perfectly warm and efficient.
Vittorio's brings a little glow to dining out in Amityville, where the opening of this restaurant amounts to lighting a candle. By merely being here, Vittorio's heightens the competition in the neighborhood.
The eatery has the hybrid style of a bistro-trattoria, and the atmosphere is pleasantly informal. You could be at home here whether on a business lunch or a quick dinner where toddlers outnumber adults. Nobody seems to mind.
An appetizer of meaty, pan-seared crab cakes is the ideal way to start. They're flavorful, presented atop greens and ringed by a diverting mango sauce. "French onion soup," however is on the mild side, except for a major dose of salt, and the melted cheese sealing it in is mozzarella. Have your mozzarella in carrozza, with a wine sauce spiked with capers.
Rigatoni with broccoli rabe is undone by stemminess. And fettuccine all'Alfredo is pretty dry. As alternatives, try the linguine with roasted garlic and olive oil or the rigatoni alla vodka, which includes prosciutto.
St. Peter's fish is the best catch, crusted with pecans and served with asparagus and roasted potatoes. But red snapper alla Livornese doesn't quite harmonize. The fish is all right, but the sauce is mainly assorted, rather bland ingredients.
Chicken scarpariello has body and good flavors, with the bird on the bone, flanked by zesty sausage, peppers, onions and potatoes. The grilled ribeye steak is the main course for meat eaters. The sirloin steak also is juicy and right.
For dessert, there's a fresh, satisfying pear-and-almond cake. The American-style cheesecake is creamy. The most appealing sweet: chocolate-dipped strawberries. A treat and a surprise. They suit Vittorio's.