12N. PARK AVENUE
ROCKVILLE CENTRE NY 11570
Fans favor this “festive” Rockville Centre
Restaurant Row Italian for its “creative”,
“varied and delicious” food, 350-label wine
list, “cordial” service and a Tuscan-style
decor that “makes you feel like you are in Manhatttan”;
critics’ main complaint is the “ridiculous”
volume level (the “noisy” room “echoes
like the Grand Canyon”), so sound-sensitive sorts
“enjoy the sidewalk seating.”
ROCKVILLE CENTRE * CITY’S
It seems that Rockville Centre can't make up its mind when it
comes to this bistro-style restaurant. But whether you love
or hate this local Italian, the atmosphere on summer nights,
when the giant French doors open onto the street, is magical
-- if you can talk above the noise of the traffic. The decor
is handsome and a little Romanesque, with bold gold accents
and mood lighting that'll imbue any date with a little romance,
especially if accompanied by a porterhouse steak for two washed
down with a bottle of '99 Sassacaia. If you're dining with family
in tow, try the homemade pappardelle with peas and mushrooms
in a Bolognese sauce. After that, cool off with a little vanilla
gelato, or keep the conversation going with a powerful double
espresso. -- Simon Van Booy
"When a restaurant changes for the better, it's popularity
almost invariably grows. There is good reason, then, for the
crowds milling around Dodici. I don't expect they'll be thinning
any time soon."
DINING OUT; Good Choices Abound
at Italian Spot
By JOANNE STARKEY
IS Dodici Rockville Centre's most popular restaurant? When,
at a recent party in that village, I mentioned it, there was
a chorus of ''That's our favorite place'' from every corner
of the room.
There is a lot to like at this
legendary Italian spot, which has fast become a local institution.
Start with the decor. This pretty place looks like a transplant
from Tuscany. Walls are sponge painted and adorned with pictures
from the Italian masters. There are columns, overhead fans and
vaulted ceilings. Those ceilings are edged in gilt and painted
sky blue, some complete with clouds and cherubs.
Dodici is classy-casual. At the first hint of a warm day, French
doors are opened to the sidewalk. Tables are topped with votive
candles and butcher paper over white cloths. Servers are a spirited
crew dressed impeccably.
There are a few drawbacks. One is the no-reservations policy
(for fewer than six), which results in waits at busy times.
We found these tempters to be invariably more expensive than
comparable dishes on the menu. Desserts averaged $8 to $9.
Price-conscious diners should keep a keen eye on the right side
of the menu. Caesar salad, a creamy beauty, goes for a reasonable
$6.95. More complex salads, including those on the list of specials,
are in the $8.95 to $11.95 range.
Economical main course picks are the hefty panini (toasted Italian
sandwiches) at $11.95 and the large pizzas (six big
slices) at $13.95. We were very happy with the thin
eggplant pie with its crisp, blistery crust.
Pastas are another bargain with about half of the choices in
the $12.95 to $16.95 range. Our favorite was buccatini (fat
spaghetti) with a seductive sauce of oven roasted tomatoes and
grilled eggplant. Saffron pappardelle tossed with crunchy asparagus,
sea scallops, tomatoes and lots of garlic was another hit. Canneloni,
made with spinach pasta, was billed with a stuffing of chicken
and spinach. Ours also oozed creamy ricotta, which turned its
chunky tomato sauce a lush pink. The only pasta strikeout was
the gnocchi, which were leaden.
A host of appealing openers pairs well with the great bread,
focaccia and flavorful olive oil. A vegetable-barley soup of
the day was a huge bowl of crunchy springtime vegetables and
soothing barley. Another captivator is the grilled asparagus
rolled in melting Caprino cheese and prosciutto. But skip the
paltry portion (only seven) of chewy New Zealand mussels.
Salads are top-notch. Three to try are the mound of watercress
crowned with julienned strips of endive, encircled with sea
scallops; the jumbo grilled shrimp arranged around a centerpiece
of eggplant and roasted pepper salad and a special of haricots
verts, red and yellow cherry tomatoes and shaved red onion with
a medallion of creamy goat cheese on top.
Pay close attention to the specials at entree time. If soft-shell
crabs atop a mound of broccoli rape and tomatoes are offered,
grab them. Another splendid selection is the mixed grill, consisting
of two jumbo shrimp, a juicy chicken paillard and a tender medallion
of veal set over garlicky spinach and triangles of polenta.
One to pass up is the pan-seared halibut served on top of salad.
The fish was overcooked and dry.
Two prime picks from the menu are veal medallions flavored with
capers, lemon and shiitake mushrooms and the tender Black Angus
steak in a dark, rich wine sauce rife with portobello mushrooms.
Dessert is like a trip to Europe gelato and an assortment of sorbets in their natural shells.
Among the homemade treats is a tiramisu and a American cheesecake.
The strength of Dodici's wine selection is the 58 bottles of
Italian and California reds. Unfortunately only five of them
have vintage years listed. Expensive choices like Opus One ($130),
Brunnelo Di Montalcino Campo Giovanni Reserva ($160) and cabernet
sauvignon, Stags Leap, Cask 23 ($120) are inexplicably devoid
of vintage years. A medium priced, pleasantly fruity, 1996 Robert
Mondavi Coastal chardonnay ($26) is at its peak right now.
12 North Park Avenue (between Sunrise Highway and Merrick Road),
Rockville Centre, 764-3000.
Atmosphere A trip to Tuscany.
Service Cheery and efficient.
Recommended dishes Tiramisu, Caesar salad, haricots verts salad,
watercress and endive salad, grilled shrimp and eggplant salad,
asparagus rolled in prosciutto, vegetable-barley soup, eggplant
pizza, buccatini with eggplant, canneloni, saffron pappardelle,
soft-shell crabs, mixed grill, Black Angus steak, medallions