I’m not a big fan of Italian food, that is, American Italian food. I’ve never actually tasted authentic Italian food so when I recently had dinner at Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas, a new Italian restaurant in Garden City, Long Island, I was completely blown away. I’m happy to report that I am now a big fan of Italian food. At least if it’s authentic, like at Spuntino.
Spuntino means “snack” in Italian and the menu at the restaurant is made up of different dishes that are supposed to be snack-sized (although as you will read below, the portions are more full-size). My husband and I had a wonderful waiter who has tried every single dish and wine on the menu – this is a requirement so that he is able to help patrons decide on what to order. Together with the restaurant manager, Andrea Rossi, the four of us put together a lovely selection of food and wine that like a mosaic of different colors helped create a beautiful masterpiece which was our dinner. Here is the breakdown of our meal, which I will happily do all over again on any given day:
We started with home-made mozzarella and buffalo milk cheese. The mozzarella arrived with with a dab of balsamic vinaigrette, which provided a perfect sweet and tangy flavor that went well with the slightly salty cheese. The buffalo milk cheese was creamy and rich. This dish was paired with Prosecco – very light and a very appropriate start to a meal.
Next we had french fries with truffle oil and a grilled shrimp scampi bruschetta. The french fries were super thin and crispy and had a little garlicky taste. They were simply divine and came at a rather large portion. The bruschetta was delicious – I love shrimp scampi but having it grilled brought out the flavor even more. These dishes were paired with a white wine from Sardinia called Vermentino Costamolinas Argiolas. It was light and very sweet and as far as white wines go, it was probably one of the top five I have ever tasted.
For the main course I ordered the fetuccini with shrimp, calamari and mussels and my husband had the pizza margherita. My dish was wonderful and every single ingredient – even the cherry tomatoes – tasted super-fresh. Turns out almost everything in Spuntino is locally-sourced (but I’ll get to that later). It was a large and filling dish. When my husband ordered the pizza margherita I was a little disappointed because I had hoped he’d order something a little more exciting– but after trying the pizza, with the thin crispy crust, the rich, flavorful sauce and, of course, the mozzarella which I had tried earlier, I realized this pizza can easily compete with Grimaldi’s and DiFaro’s of Brooklyn.
I had the Chardonnay from St. Clement, one of the oldest wineries in Napa. It was a heavier wine, which went well with the fetuccini but at this point I was feeling a little buzzed from the Vermentino so, I had to take it easy (I cannot hold my liquor for the life of me) . My husband had Sant‘Antimo Rosso – a red wine that he absolutely loved with his pizza.
When our waiter brought over the dessert menu the first thing that caught my eye was “Nutella Pizza” and this was pretty much it for me. I didn’t even bother looking at the rest of the menu. As you can imagine, Nutella Pizza at Spuntino is everything you would want in a Nutella Pizza and then some. Other than the crispy crust (the same one as the pizza margherita) and the sweet, chocolaty Nutella spread, the pizza also had pistachios, strawberries and chopped mint leaves which brought out the flavor even more. It was pure heaven. After the first slice my husband and I were pretty full but we just couldn’t stop polishing off the rest – it was a perfect ending to a scrumptious, dazzling meal. We had Brachetto wine which was a sparkling dessert wine and tasted like punch.
After speaking to Andrea, the manager, I learned a little about his background – over 30 years of experience and a love of the slow food movement. Along with chef Ryan Keough, they have put together a menu with some dishes based on recipes from Andrea’s Italian grandmother and food that’s locally-sourced. According to Chef Keough, if they can’t get anything local they import it from Italy (for example, the flour in the pizza). They have a “zero kilometer policy” so many of the items, such as the bread, cheese, gelato and fresh produce are from local growers/manufactures in nearby areas from Long Island, Hudson Valley and New Jersey.
The atmosphere in Spuntino is casual and the ambiance is friendly and not at all uptight. It is a restaurant where you can go on date night or bring your entire family. There are high chairs, as well as booster seats and I did see a few kids that evening. Starting in September, Spuntino will be serving brunch and my husband and I have been making plans to come with the kids. I already know what I’m having for dessert…
Click here to learn more about Spuntino of Long Island. They are located at the Gallery at Westbury Plaza, 1002 Old Country Road in Garden City. (516) 228-5400. If you’re in New Jersey be sure to visit Spuntino in Clifton.
I was not compensated for this post. I received a complimentary meal.