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Villa Valletta: Raise a ‘V’ for victory in Roslyn restaurant

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Owned 2 1/2 years by the Valletta family, it's just undergone a complete renovation. The look is blonde, contemporary Italian with lots of windows and light streaming in. The very private room on the side that seats 100 with a DJ or a band is named the Angelina room. Angelina is a Valletta, too, the daughter of owner Michael Valletta. And she's also the manager.

There were good vibes when we entered on a Friday at 6:30 p.m. which stayed thusly throughout dinner. Everyone seemed to be having a merry time - especially the table of six, all women, who had the caprese appetizer. That included fresh mozzarella, (seemingly baseball-sized) on a beefsteak tomato half with roasted peppers, lobster, cheesecake and a cappuccino, all family style. On Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. there's music - Italian on Thursday, American on Friday. Glasses of wine are good looking and most generous. California and Italian white and red selections, as well as imported sparkling wines, are conveniently listed on the back of the menu.

Pre-menu-selection bruschetta are given, but really, it's the thick, crusty slices of Italian bread that captivate. It's been a long while since I've had it that utterly irresistible. The white's crust is sesame seeded to the extreme; the wheat is all flavor and texture. You simply can't stay away - be forewarned.

My dining companion ordered frittura di calamari. Fried calamari is definitely the appetizer of choice these days. Valletta serves it with an elegant tomato sauce and lemons in swadling wraps of cheesecloth.

I looked for something light and settled on Little Neck clams in a luscious white sauce. There were a dozen and the sauce bristled with eighth-inch thick slices of garlic. Once chefs used garlic for flavor, now it's texture. I spooned up the last bit. Enough said.

We negotiated to split mista, a salad of mixed organic greens with cherry tomatoes and ultra-thin doughnut-like slices of skin-on green apples. A lemon dressing kept it delightfully light tasting.

During the decision-making process, my companion said, "I haven't had veal scallopine in a long time," and proceeded to order scallopine sorrentina - veal scallopine topped with Italian prosciutto, eggplant and mozzarella. Chef Mario Malligiri, a third-generation chef who learned at his father's side, keeps it beautifully light by slicing everything - veal, prosciutto and eggplant - amazingly thin (it's today's chef's way to cook) and then finish it with a light sauce with white wine. Very young green beans, and a fluffy, finger shaped, potato croquette accompanied it.

I was delighted to spy trippa Neopolitana, Italian style tripe, as an entree. At Valletta's the tripe is cut in long, quarter-inch wide fingers. The sauce is white and light with fresh peas and mouth-melting potato wedges. If you like tripe even just a little, try it the Neopolitana way.

Through it all our waiter was ultra jovial.

Now it was time for dessert, all of which Mario makes himself. His cheesecake was a cross between an Italian and New York styles. It's light and yet it's luscious. There's a dab of cream and the plate is gargantuan, liberally doused with cocoa and cinnamon. My companion's dessert tartufo read like the usual, but the tartufo, imported by Bindi, had a soft exterior. The ball of chocolate ice cream with a vanilla heart had been rolled in cocoa and hazelnuts. It was easy eating no matter how you consider it - fork-wise or flavor-wise. Cappuccino for two before we said, "Check please."

"V" stands for Victor, "V" stands for Villa Valletta, and also "Very good indeed."

The Bottom Line

Neopolitan Italian restaurant. Newly renovated. Large attractive lounge. Jovial service. Fine, light, Italian cuisine. Some outdoor seating. Music - Italian on Thursdays, American on Fridays.

Villa Valletta

1516 Old Northern Blvd. Roslyn

516-621-2569

Chef's Choice

Insalata di Mare (mixed seafood salad with extra virgin olive oil)...$8.95

Invotini di Melanzane (stuffed eggplant with ricotta cheese)...$6.95

Vongole in Umido (Little Neck clams in light tomato sauce)...$7.95

Cappellini Primavera (angel hair pasta with fresh vegetables)...$11.95

Linguine à la Vongole (linguine pasta in a white clam sauce)...$12.95

Scallopine Sorentina (veal scallopine topped with Italian prosciutto, eggplant and fresh mozzarella)...$16.95

Dentice Livornese (filet of red snapper with onions, capers and gaeta olives in fresh tomato sauce)...$18.95

Zuppa di Pesce (lobster tails, shrimp, scallops, calamari, clams, mussels with garlic & oil in marinara sauce over linguine)...$22.95

Risotto Pescatore (mixed seafood with arboro rice in fresh tomato sauce)... $17.95

Cuisine: Italian (Neopolitana)

Setting: Contemporary Italian

Service: Jovial

Hours: Closed Tuesday. L & D 6 days. Dinner menu available for lunch. Family style (one dish for two)

Parking: Mini mall

Location: Mini mall alongside Northern

Dress: Casual

Children: Own menu

Credit cards: All major. No Discover

Takeout: Yes

Off-premise catering: Yes

Private parties: To 120

Noise level: Friday & Saturday, low

Handicap access: Yes

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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