Restaurant Review: Stresa Under New Ownership

“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” That saying was not necessarily intended to apply to restaurants. But in at least one instance it does. We’re talking about Stresa, the deservedly praised, 25-year-old restaurant in Manhasset. Late last year it was sold to Antonio D’Anna who then owned Arturo’s traditional Italian spot in Floral Park. Stresa, under the new regime, opened in January.

When people find out that I have visited Stresa since then, they all bombard me with predictable questions: “What’s the new menu like?”“Is it still the same?” “Have any dishes been eliminated?” “What happened to the staff?”

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My overall answer is “relax.” Happily Stresa is still Stresa. Little or nothing has changed. D’Anna knows enough about the restaurant business to know a good one when he sees it and he knew Stresa was a good one. So what do you do when you take over a good, successful eating place? Intelligent operators do nothing or virtually nothing. Longtime Stresa regulars will still see the massive flower displays at the front door, they will be given an unchanged, familiar menu, if they have a favorite waiter, he will still be there (although his dress will be different) and occasionally an Arturo’s favorite will be available as one of the many daily specials. That’s about it. If you liked it before, you will still like it.

A tender batch of complimentary fried zucchini appears on every plate soon after guests arrive and so too do a few pieces of tasty provolone cheese from a huge slab at one of the restaurant’s entrances. And don’t be surprised if one of the congenial captains delivers an array of complimentary desserts at meal’s end. And yes, Stresa’s great gossamer soufflés are still available.

On my recent visit, I enjoyed linguine in garlic sauce with shrimp that was all it should be and sautéed veal salppina with wild mushrooms. Thin tender slices in a dish that proves again, it’s not necessary to have exotic, unusual ingredients to produce an outstanding dish. Both the veal and the mushrooms are top of the line, and could not be better offerings.

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.