(516) 513-1919, East Meadow
“Authentic Italian restaurant” the sign outside Sacramone’s in East Meadow proclaims. That declaration should earn a “truth in advertising” award. The two-tiered, nearly year and a half old eatery on Hempstead Turnpike where Puglia had been, is a homey, friendly, family-oriented place of bare floors and tables. Its menu is studded with parmigianas, marsalas, pizzas and raviolis. This is a loudish, down-to-earth spot (rather than a fancy, luxurious destination) appealing to no-nonsense diners who value a restaurant that emphasizes food (as it should) rather than décor. It is not a venue for those who seek culinary surprises or cutting-edge cuisine.
Sacramone’s prices are modest and its portions are large. Glasses of wine cost as little as $6 and bottles can be purchased for $22. A thin-crusted, exceptional, first-class, ten-inch Mama’s Old Fashioned pizza pie ($9.50), harboring fresh hand-cut mozzarella, ripe crushed San Marzano tomatoes, basil and virgin olive oil served as a low-cost, high-value starter for a table of four. It provided a slice for each diner and two leftover.
A heaping basket of bread appeared quickly, well before that pizza pie. So too did a pervasive sense of informal warmth. The staff, from the hostess to the bus boys, waiters and manager, seem genuinely glad to see newcomers. When that manager makes the rounds asking if all is well, there is a sense of real concern rather than a perfunctory inquiry. Our competent, fast-moving waiter observed “when everybody is quiet the food is speaking for itself.”
That food is a combination of the ordinary and extraordinary. In the first category was an almost tasteless, pallid, minestrone ($5.95) and a pappardelle amatriciana ($15.95) that was absent of almost all the prosciutto and bacon the menu promises and the flavor the dish demands. On the plus side was the gnocchi quattro formaggio ($15.95), creamy, cheesy housemade pasta, rich with four cheeses, and a special of pan-seared pork tenderloin ($20.95) in an unexpected but welcome blueberry and merlot reduction accompanied by peas, mashed potatoes and sautéed broccolini. Another special of slow-cooked lamb, unfortunately not available on my visit, is said to be outstanding. Also worth more than a nod: Another housemade pasta, manicotti ($13.95), packed with an agreeable meld of ricotta and mozzarella; earthy portobello mushrooms ($9.95) sautéed in a noteworthy garlic and white wine sauce; and pollo Napoletana ($16.95), or chicken breast, eggplant, mozzarella and prosciutto in a heady francese sauce.
Desserts here are made elsewhere. The best of them are the two chocolate options: The gooey lava cake ($7) and the intensely flavored chocolate mousse cake ($6).
Photos by Stephen Lang