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Dining Out: Scotto’s

Scotto's

285 Middleneck Rd. Great Neck

(516) 482-3325

Fax: 396-4164

The name Scotto Brothers conjures up visions of fine Italian restaurants, beautifully appointed, large and impressive in every respect. There's Westbury Manor in the midst of a lovely garden, Fox Hollow, an elegant country place, and dazzling Chateau Briand with fountains, waterfalls and spacious dining room, Europa. All do lavish catering. The original is Scotto's a family restaurant established in 1959 in the Village of Old Great Neck.

It was raining the night we drove into Scotto's rear parking lot and we gratefully ducked into the rear entrance. Renovated seven years ago in a cozy Italian family style, Scotto's greets you with a fireplace, and in the far dining room, old recipes written on the wall tiles. In European fashion, the ceiling is a painted sky, clouds and all. A waitress, busily decorating for the holiday season, confided she was supposed to waitress tonight but got carried away with Christmas. And that was homey, too.

The menu, as you might expect, was presented in a large leather bound book and took time to digest. First, there were the offerings of pasta. There was:spaghettini con gambertti with baby shrimp, sauteed with broccoli and cherry tomatoes.Or, you could opt for the spaghetti con funghi freschi - that's a sauce of fresh mushrooms sauteed in garlic and fresh tomatoes. Another great choice: the tortellini alla panna, which is a meat tortellini in a white sauce.)

At Scotto's, there is also a series of select "Specialties for Two" selections on the menu. What a great way to go:-Scotto's arranges two servings on a platter for help yourself service. (I know from years of food photography, that this a most effective way to serve a meal.) From the specialties for two selection, the antipasto fantasia sounded good to us. And it was. In fact, it was unbelievable, offering, it seemed, a little bit of everything that's available on the menu: eggplant stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella in a marinara sauce, stuffed mushrooms and stuffed red peppers or tomatoes with a fine bread crumb mix. Note: the mussels at Scotto's are exceedingly plentiful and the plumpest to be found without a doubt. They also serve top quality clams and shrimp. This antipasto is a banquet in itself. If you order the cold antipasto, you receive another exciting combination of: prosciutto, salami, and other Italian cold cuts, marinated mushrooms and anchovies, olives and provolone.

Main courses for two at Scotto's include the duetto francese al verde, which is veal and chicken battered and sauteed with lemon and butter, accompanied by spinach. There is also the platto del pescatore, which is a most generous serving of sole, swordfish, scallops, baby shrimp and clams, served in a garlic and fresh tomato sauce with linguini. Another must is the trio rustica, a trio of beef, veal and chicken, , topped with a fantasy salad.

The Scotto's menu also offers a full, separate selection of veal entrees, including the Scotto special, a combination of veal and eggplant, baked with mozzarella and tomato sauce. Another choice, one of many, is scallopine sorrentino, which is veal topped with proscuitto, eggplant and melted mozzarella.

After dinner, a three-tiered , gold dessert trolley is rolled to the table with a host of beguiling choices. There was an eclair-type pastry, which our waiter termed as "the best," as well as expected selections of cheescake and tartufo. Bravo, particularly, for the cheese cake with its lingering lemony flavor. Cappucino comes sprinkled with cinnamon with a polka dot of foamed milk swirling at its center.

Scotto's owner comes from Naples but the food is red sauce and white sauce. The chef has been with Scotto's many years, but not for as long as its managers, Alberto, at 24 years, and Maria, for 29. In fact, Maria remembers neighborhood kids who would rush into Scotto's as soon as they came back from camp. Years later, with families of their own,they still come from all over to see. It's that kind of place-a cozy, Italian, family restaurant on the grandiose side.

Bottom Line

Huge but cozy Italian family setting. Fine food. 'Specialties-for Two' platters featured. Cheerful service..

Chef's Choice

Mozzarella Caprese....$6.50

Antipasto Fantasia...$7.75

Insalata del Giardino...$3.95

Spaghetti con Salsice...$9.25

Rigatoni Ciociara ...$13.50

Penne ala Vodka...$12.95

Trio Parmigiana for two $28.75

Trio Rustica ...for two $1.95

Scallopine Napoletana ...$14.95

Rack of Veal Valdiostara...$22,95

Pesce Spada Livornese ...$16.95

Food: Italian-all over the country

Setting: Large but cozy Italian family style

Service: Very cheerful

Hours: Lunch and dinner 7 days

Parking: Rear

Reservations: Accepted

Location: Village of old Great Neck

Credit cards: All major. No Discover

Children: Half orders. Pasta. Pizza

Private parties: Lunch to 70

Takeout: Yes

Catering: No

Noise level: Low

Smoking: None

Handicap accessible: Yes

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