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Twelve years ago Buongustos owners stripped a one-time firehouse dating to the 1890s down to the brick walls and remodeled it into a striking, 20-foot-high dining area.
The new design is bright and breezy with an open kitchen and a bar tucked in the rear. Mirrored columns afford interesting views as one sups. A vest pocket patio out front provides a spot for a breath of fresh air. And the owners boast the largest parking lot in Roslyn.
The waiters bustle to and fro, but still have time for a touch of small talk as one dines. Best of all, the ambiance is conducive to having a great evening.
Now dont feel that the Southern Italian, Sicilian fare has been regulated to the back burner. Far from it. the Sicilian chef knows his stuff and his partner has been working with him for 16 years so he knows the nuances, as well.
On a Monday evening, the tables were all taken, many by families (and there were two private parties going on as well). Was everybody happy? It sure seemed so! We three sat down, ordered a soup of the day pasta fagioli. I had toothsome baked clams circling a lettuce leaf and a super salad special of the day (arugula with beet greens and a very fine ginger dressing snowed under with curls of fresh Parmesan). Dont miss this one! The salad made a fitting centerpiece alongside the carnations and we nibbled away deliciously.
The prize goes to insalata di mare, a very fine sautéed seafood salad appetizer with beet greens and spinach and a touch of curly chicory with generous amounts of shrimp, squid and scungilli in a lemon, parsley and olive oil dressing.
Paste (pasta) has 22 listings on the Buongusto menu, ranging from $11 to $14. The portions are enormous. Every one of them sounded so good that we all might have wound up having one. Some of the ones that caught my eye were Rigatoni alla Sicilian, served with thick tomato sauce and eggplant; mezzelune alla Anna, half moon shaped pasta filled with ricotta cheese in tomato sauce prepared with fresh melted mozzarella (and it was lovely); farfalle salmone, butterfly pasta with smoked salmon in a pink sauce; gnocchi alla Bolognese, homemade potato dumplings served with a Bolognese sauce (most delicious with the ground beef sauce adding just the right amount of texture); and meat lasagna with fresh ricotta cheese and melted mozzarella on top. When did you last have lasagna? Remember how you loved it?
And I was tempted by their special. All I can recall is the sun-dried tomatoes. Sorry.
I decided on grilled swordfish (with attractive grill markings) accompanied by green beans. One of my dining companions commented: They didnt do anything to it. Therein lies its charm. Sometimes thats just what you want, right? The steak was large and half became the makings of diced swordfish in cream sauce to fill a stack of crepes for brunch.
Buongusto prepares dishes to order and the table to our right, which incidentally had one of the chefs visit them, had scallopine of chicken or veal, batter dipped, topped with a tri-color salad, another simple dining pleaser. Polio novella alla Toscana roasted baby chicken seasoned with fresh herbs and garlic is still another. And yet another is costoletta di vitello alla griglia, grilled veal chop with sautéed mushrooms.
Gamberoni alla Romana, with breaded shrimp prepared with Marsala wine, mushrooms, brown sauce and fresh mozzarella, would satisfy a robust appetite as would veal scallopine alla Caprese, sautéed veal with fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes.
For dessert there is Italian cheesecake (homemade, and really tastes homemade), and everybodys favorite tiramisu. I concluded with a cappuccino (again, something on the simple side.) It was not memorable, Im sorry to report.
Buongusto means good taste and it certainly provided that. But more than that it was the wonderful world feeling that made the meal so special and the twenty foot ceilings helped.
Or maybe its the firehouse connection. Fire companies are known for great food.
The Bottom Line
Great Italian fare in a restored 19th-century firehouse. Delicious specials, 22 pasta choices, food prepared to order.
©2003 Community Newspaper Group
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