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Weekend picks: Columbus Day restaurants

Diners are ready to dig in at Mamma

Diners are ready to dig in at Mamma Lombardi's. Photo Credit: Robert Mecea

Get a head start on Columbus Day with Long Island's favorite cuisine.

Italian restaurants grow wild on Long Island. The only competition is for what type of food comes in second. Maybe seafood, maybe steak. But you can have them both in almost all of the area's Italian eateries. Choose from hundreds, perhaps thousands if you include pizzerias.

You almost could pick at random. But here are four veteran winners plucked from the ever-growing list, two each in Nassau and Suffolk, two North Shore and South Shore.

Casa Rustica in Smithtown opened in 1986. Go for the outstanding pastas, especially for bucatini con le sarde and all ravioli. Memorable main courses: whole fish baked in a salt crust, beef braciola, lobster oreganata, stuffed pork chop with hot peppers. Terrific desserts.

Casa Rustica, 175 W. Main St., Smithtown; 631-265-9265, casarustica.net

Stresa in Manhasset attracts you with superb pastas, among them ricotta malfatti and bucatini alla Norma; risotti; bracing four-bean soup and airy swordfish carpaccio; rack of lamb and Dover sole. The souffle is Long Island's best. Excellent biscotti, too.

Stresa, 1524 Northern Blvd., Manhasset; 516-365-6956, stresarestaurant.com

Mamma Lombardi's in Holbrook stars with soulful dishes. Come here for chicken-and-sausage campagnola, tripe alla Napoletana, pork braciola, lasagna with meat, linguine alla puttanesca, pasta piselli, steak alla pizzaiola. Hearty pizza in adjoining eatery.

Mamma Lombardi's, 400 Furrows Rd., Holbrook; 631-737-0774, mammalombardis.com

King Umberto in Elmont has reigned since 1976. The restaurant's reliable choices include stuffed artichoke, risotto cakes, linguine with white clam sauce, lasagna "pillows," cavatelli with braised short rib, chicken Parmigiana, calamari marinara. Fine pizza next door.

King Umberto, 1343 Hempstead Tpke., Elmont; 516-352-3232, kingumberto.com

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