NY Times Review

The love affair between Vittorio’s and Amityville, which began on Valentine’s Day (2002) when the restaurant opened, continues. Other restaurants could take lessons from Vittorio’s when it comes to dinner music. The décor of this agreeable place takes two roads. Some might notice casual, rustic details: the brick walls, bare wood floors, French doors, intriguing black and white photographs of Amityville in the early years of the last century, and servers with bistro aprons tied at the waist. But there’s also a more formal overlay: marbleized columns, large gilt-framed mirrors, white tablecloths, fresh flowers, old-fashioned chandeliers and heavy, tied-back draperies at doorways. The amiable staff falls into the casual camp. Busboys decrumb tables between courses The bread was worth asking for: a chewy, warm loaf generous portions of appetizers and entrees.

Salads were huge and especially impressive. The Oriental salad, starring a crunchy cornucopia-like herb-garlic shell with cascading greens, Chinese noodles, mandarin oranges and broccoli in a sesame dressing, was a head turner. So, too, was the cocktail of four colossal shrimp served in a martini glass. The Caesar and house salads rivaled the Oriental. The Caesar did not have a classic dressing yet it was tasty, the romaine crisp and the garlic croutons homemade. Check out the soups of the day. I was thrilled by the two I encountered: a smooth shrimp-crab bisque loaded with flavor, and a Manhattan clam chowder full of chunky vegetables including red-skin potatoes. Rounding out the successes at appetizer time were a platter of grilled asparagus with a tangy Dijon mustard sauce, a giant stuffed artichoke in a broth laced with garlic and a special of six plump baked oysters, each crowned with a slice of roma tomato and a whisper of melted mozzarella cheese.

Chicken scarpariello is the dish to order. The overflowing platter featured succulent on-the-bone meat, hunks of sausage, peppers, onions, potatoes and whole cloves of garlic. It caused a battle of the forks among tablemates. Also creating a stir were the Chilean sea bass sautéed with garlic, basil and white wine; the moist duck a l’orange; herb-crusted salmon in mustard sauce; and a juicy rib-eye steak cooked precisely to order. The bourbon-mushroom sauce on the last was a taste enhancer. Desserts were nicely turned out with whipped cream and chocolate- and fruit-flavored squiggles on the plates. All were oversize treats: creamy tiramisù, a decadent chocolate layer cake with chocolate glaze and the equally rich chocolate ganache cake. A pleasing variation of cannoli, an open tulip-shaped shell mounded with a not-too-sweet filling, also left us smiling.

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