Where Everything Can Also Be Gluten Free!
Café Formaggio is in Carle Place, in close proximity to the Roosevelt Field Mall. The dining room is large, the bar cozy, and the menu twice the size that you would expect. If you are coming from a shopping trip with the girls it’s a great spot to grab a martini and a bite to eat. There is an array of appetizers that are unique to this eatery. For “Martini Thursday” we recommend any of the delicious choices featured on their $6 martini menu. We sampled the Espresso Martini, Cosmopolitan, and Pomegranate, which were three great picks.
Our server Giovanni welcomed us with foccacia squares (below left) as well as warm rolls served with a trio of accompaniments; hummus, belgioso asiago cheese and olives (below right). Giovanni charmingly introduced himself and proudly explains the uniqueness of one of the only restaurants of it’s kind on Long Island. Café Formaggio does not cater to those with gluten sensitivities with just a few choices, their entire menu is also available gluten free. The manager boasts that their gluten free menu is virtually the same as their regular menu. They’ve researched the best gluten free ingredients they could find as substitutes and truly believe their gluten free menu is as close to the real thing as possible. There were actually so many options that the review has two parts… We began the first night with the regular menu and came back a second time to sample the gluten free.
For an appetizer we started with the Meatball Sliders (below left). They are a homemade combination of beef, pork, and veal meatballs served in a puff pastry with a light tomato sauce and shaved Parmesan cheese. The unique puff pastry bun helps make this an original take on what you would normally overlook on any other menu.
Another great appetizer choice is the Zucchini Linguini (above right), which is usually found on the price fix menu as an appetizer choice. This is another original concept and a great alternative to pasta. Although you won’t see it on the menu it is always available.
The Portamella (above left) is a layered tower of fresh mozzarella, marinated Portobello mushrooms, red ripened tomato and basil, drizzled with a pesto and balsamic reduction. The ingredients are fresh and wonderfully complimented by the pesto.
Our favorite salad was the Pera salad (above right). It has mesclun greens topped with poached pears, crumbled bleu cheese and caramelized walnuts infused with a balsamic reduction. The caramelized walnuts are lightly done and not overly sweet. The tartness of the cheese nicely compliments the crisp pears and crunchy walnuts.
The wine list has very nice options ranging in affordability. The best value that we found was the Villa Pozzi, Nero D’Avola. This wine was a stand out, full-bodied favorite with a creamy, buttery taste that you’re sure to love.
For our pasta course we first had the Aqua Pazza (below left). This dish has linguini with mussels, littleneck clams, calamari, and shrimp in a filetto sauce topped with fresh basil. This seafood medley was freshly prepared with a bountiful portion size especially for the price.
We then had the Papparedelle Ragu (above right), fresh homemade papparedelle pasta topped with old-fashioned ragu sauce mixed with slow cooked beef brasciole. The homemade pasta was superb and the brasciole was a fork tender creation in a tomato sauce that was truly fabulous.
In the entrée category, we had the Veal Osso Bucco (above left) and the Gamberoni Risotto. The Osso Bucco was a very tender veal shank served over their unique Italian risotto in a rich demi-glace. This Osso Bucco was succulent and fell apart easily over the creamy risotto. The Gamberoni Risotto (above right) had grilled marinated shrimp over a vegetable risotto in a rich scampi sauce. The shrimp as well as the vegetables possessed a nice freshly grilled flavor.
On our second trip to Café Formaggio, we only sampled from their gluten free menu. Gluten is ever present in many Italian dishes that are created with pasta, dough, and breading. Café Formaggio has researched gluten substitutes to make their dishes the closest alternative available. Café Formaggio has dedicated themselves to serving the highest quality gluten free dishes for the enjoyment of those individuals with celiac disease.
We first sampled the gluten free Margherita pizza (above). It was topped with plum tomato basil sauce with homemade fresh mozzarella and a touch of olive oil. Although we could tell the difference between this pizza and a traditional pie, this close substitute will be a heavenly delight for those that had thought pizza was something they could never have again.
Next were the baked clams oreganata (above left) and the meatballs (above right). Both appetizers had great texture and were made with gluten free breadcrumbs. The meatballs were fluffy and had a nice consistency. Pair the meatballs with the Pinot Noir and the clams with the Pinot Grigio to enhance your experience.
The gluten free calamari fritti (above left) were golden fried and served with homemade marinara or Fra Diavolo sauce. They are excellently paired with the house Riesling. With this entree you surely couldn't tell it was gluten free. There is not an overpowering fried flavor because the breading is very light and the calamari very tender.
The gnocchi cotti (above right) is smothered in their signature creamy roasted pepper pesto with breaded chicken breasts and sun dried tomatoes. The gnocchi had a well-balanced consistency. The sauce was flavorful and if you are vegetarian, order it without the chicken for a dish that will stand on it’s own.
The gluten free favorite entrée of the night was the Eggplant Parmigiana (above left), which was served with gluten free pasta. The thickly sliced eggplant was topped with gluten free breadcrumbs and had great texture with freshly pulled mozzarella that was baked to our delight.
Lastly was the gluten free chicken Marsala (above right), it was a pleasant ending to our entrees. The chicken was tender and the mushrooms and vegetables were perfectly cooked.
On to the dessert! One unique creation was the Nutella pizza (below left) served “Di Bosco” or “Smore” style. Our Nutella pizza was served gluten free and Di Bosco style, topped with bananas, apples, strawberries, and caramel. It’s great to share with everyone at the table. Next, the Chocolate Pecan Tart (below right) was a classic preparation with Bourbon notes and caramel sauce.
The Apple Caramel Crumb (below) was nice and warm, semi-sweet, with a soft spongy top and a crunchy bottom reminiscent of a cookie. This final dessert had nice hints of cinnamon and was the perfect ending to our meal.
Many whom frequent Café Formaggio do so after shopping. However, this eatery is perfect for any occasion. There is an extensive menu and truly an option for everyone. Those that require gluten free dining for themselves or others can confidently dine with the knowledge that your entire party will be pleasantly satisfied.