Burrata burger with bacon? Even the gods would approve of Bacaro’s strictly Italian offerings. image: yvonne albinowski

1020 Park Blvd, Massapequa Park
(516) 798-1555,
Bacaro Italian Tavern in Massapequa Park is both a restaurant and a reunion. Joseph Bonacore, the chef, and Tom Soluri, the maître d’, are cousins who opened their first restaurant (Caraway in Massapequa) 30 years ago. I managed to keep track of Joe Bonacore’s path since and he’s continuously crafted creative dishes with superior ingredients that were rarely duplicated elsewhere.

The name Bacaro refers to the small, casual hangouts in Italy that serve unpretentious food and drink. It is a cozy, laid back, 125-seat spot with a fireplace, bare tables and floors, clean lines, multiple mirrors and scant wall decorations. The long bar is separated from the dining room by French doors so diners can see the bar’s five televisions but thankfully not hear them.

Bacaro shows its comfy, unassuming intentions and serves up warm cornbread and crisp, hearty triangular pieces with red pepper humus, gorgonzola and butter. Most bottles of wine cost a modest $24. Robust flavors and sizable portions are the order of the day here. The leadoff hitter was what might be the world’s largest wedge salad, harboring crisp pancetta, gorgonzola, tomato raisins and granola crunch in a creamy avocado and basil dressing ($10). The even larger Bacaro salad was bursting with chopped iceberg, salami, artichokes, olives, tomatoes, cucumber, grilled eggplant, grana padana and roasted red peppers ($10). Soup lovers should target the rich, rewarding lobster cappuccino in a glass ($7). Another small plate, Bacaro Bruschetta, had four ’nduja (spreadable prosciutto pieces) muted by their abundant ricotta and artichoke overlay ($9).

Often encountered linguini and white clam sauce, with out-of-the-shell Manila clams in a soft cipollini ($19) held their own here, as did a pile of chicken legs and thighs scarpiello with roasted potatoes, sweet sausage peppers and onions ($19). A burrata burger layered with plenty of bacon and the creamy cheese along with long, massive fries ($14) is a bargain. (A waiter overheard me say the meat was medium, not medium rare as ordered, and immediately deducted it from our bill.) Six husky cherry pepper spare ribs crowned with grilled, roasted red peppers, onions and cherry peppers ($23) provided a snappy accompaniment.

All desserts, except for gelato, are made in house, but we were too wiped out to try more than one: four overly delicate tiramisu bonbons ($7.95).

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.