Il Felice Ristorante FOOD (1 STAR)
3943 Merrick Rd.
SERVICE Very good
ESSENTIALS Open Tuesday-Sunday for dinner, Tuesday-Friday for lunch. Closed Monday. One level. Weekend reservations suggested. Major credit cards accepted.
After 22 years in Woodside, Felice and Roza Razov moved Il Felice to Seaford in September, recipes in tow, intact and probably in a time capsule.
The Italian-continental menu at this friendly spot highlights irony-free retro. But you wouldn't expect something either a bit brash or a trace bold at the address occupied for decades by The Brown Osprey, an eatery that perfected dulling the cutting edge. Il Felice definitely improves the mood and the food. The place has been renovated and brightened up, but in neutral hues, save for the paintings of Venice. The patient, earnest staff works hard to satisfy regular inhabitants of the Osprey's nest, as well as diners simply surprised at finding another restaurant on the premises.
Il Felice prepares a tasty eggplant rollatine in a slightly sweet tomato sauce. The eggplant also anchors the house's hot antipasto, which adds a good, solo, butterflied shrimp oreganata and a pair of blunt baked clams. The competition includes shrimp and clam cocktails and, of course, fried calamari with marinara sauce. Tortellini in brodo heads the soups. Rigatoni alla vodka, creamy and pink, is enriched with chopped prosciutto. Steak alla pizzaiola arrives juicy and adroitly sauced under a mantle of sliced mushrooms and peppers. The broiled filet mignon materializes tender, unadorned and to the point; osso buco, spotlighted and sufficient. Chicken alla Parmigiana similarly takes few liberties and underscores why sometimes you don't want to be surprised. The showiest dessert: crepes suzette - short on orange flavor but definitely high-octane. You can sample respectable apple strudel. And veterans will remember the dense, husky rice pudding.
Fried zucchini, very brown and chunky, has industrial-strength texture. Red snapper Livornese is underseasoned and is undone by watery olives. Chicken campagnola needs more spark from those onions and peppers, sausages and potatoes. Boozy tiramisu.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Nostalgia. HOW THEY RATE $$$$ Average meal $100, pp $$$ Average meal $60 and under, pp $$ Average meal $30 and under, pp $ Average meal $15 and under, pp Exceptional (four stars) Excellent
(three stars) Very good (two stars) Good
(one star) Fair