Food Reviews: Villa D’aqua

VILLA D’AQUA
Bellmore (516) 308-4900

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Long Island’s love affair with Italian food continues. Despite the proliferation, even avalanche, of Asian and other ethnic eateries, the Italians keep coming and are still number one in Nassau and Suffolk. Local diners don’t seem to discriminate between northern or southern, storefront or palatial, traditional or cutting edge, expensive or bargain basement, so long as it’s Italiano.

There always seems to be room for one more and in this case the one is the waterfront Villa D’Aqua in Bellmore. It’s an upscale spot of flowers, white tablecloths, terra cotta red walls, solid wood ceiling trim, carpeting, lines of lights outlining interior features and an attractive outdoor wraparound deck. Villa D’Aqua is, in short, a discrete, subdued, somewhat pricey, big deal Italian restaurant. While its agreeable atmosphere and reasonably good, no-surprise food won’t particularly appeal to adventurous diners, it’s perfect for traditional, old-school eaters who seek dependable, first-class renditions of Italian standouts like clams oreganatte, minestrone, penne vodka, gnocchi, fettuccine Bolognese, chicken scarpariello, tiramisu and Italian cheesecake.

Meals here begin with admirably warm, crusty bread and a trio of spreads. After that, pay attention to the modestly-priced, well-prepared soups, especially the rich, dense pasta fagioli ($4.95). The lentil soup of the day ($5.95), once enlivened, even rescued by needed salt is also worth a look. Other than soups, try the mellow, superior version of stuffed mushrooms ($7.95) and the insalata Romana ($8.95), a generous meld of interesting, harmonious ingredients like romaine, avocado, tomatoes and roasted peppers in a tangy raspberry vinegar sauce.

Entrées are substantial, but not always exciting. Yet three of the four entrées sampled were everything they should be: Plump, jumbo sea scallops ($19.95) smothered under slivers of mushrooms with unannounced, but welcome, broccoli and roasted potatoes; pollo francese ($15.95), moist, thin, chicken cutlets in a lemony butter wine sauce; and a gutsy fettuccine Bolognese sporting a sauce dense with meat ($14.95). Only the gnocchi that was anything but light and fluffy, and overly heavy on pesto, disappointed.

All of the house-made desserts measure up. The chocolate cheesecake nicely balances its two ingredients. The chocolate mousse cake was properly decadent and the fruit tarte on a platform of pastry cream offered impressive taste and texture.

On the minus side is a dining room so dim that it’s very difficult to read the menu (I requested a flashlight but they had none) and waiters, or at least a waiter, constantly hovered ridiculously close to tables with his order pad, ever ready virtually from the second diners were seated.

photos by stephen lang

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richard jay scholem

Richard Jay Scholem practically invented the Long Island restaurant culture through 800+ reviews of the region's eateries both on radio and in print over the last 30 years. He is a former New York Times Long Island Section restaurant reviewer, has contributed to the Great Restaurants of...magazines and Bon Vivant, authored a book, aired reviews on WGSM and WCTO radio stations, served on the board of countless community and food and beverage organizations, and received many accolades for his journalism in both print and broadcast media. He is currently available for restaurant consultation. Reach him at (631) 271-3227.