A 21st Century Italian Restaurant
Baby is a 21st century Italian restaurant that serves traditional Italian
cuisine with a twist! Luckily for Long Islanders there are two convenient locations,
one in Commack and the other in Massapequa Park, and both offer a pleasant,
economical dining experience for all who visit.
Baby offers a family friendly dining environment and allows their guests to take a
stroll down memory lane with style and simplicity. Oldies music plays softly in the
background as you dine and pictures of Hollywood legends grace the walls of the
restaurant. Their goal is for patrons to remember Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy
Davis, etc. and bring back the times when Sunday dinner was important. Everyday
is Sunday at Ciao Baby, where you’re always invited to join their family for great
food, wine and music.
Executive Chef and owner, Frank Cammarata, is a very personable, hands-on owner. He is very creative in the kitchen and enjoys experimenting with different culinary concepts, always crafting something new and exciting to add to their extensive menu of colossal portioned dishes. Their family style portions are massive – and that is not an understatement! According to Adam Richman of the Travel Channel’s hit TV show, Man Vs. Food, who paid a visit to the restaurant in July, 2010, “Everything is bigger and better and Ciao Baby!” (He and Frank are pictured below left) He couldn’t have said it better. And for those without a Man Vs. Food appetite, they now offer a “Baby Ciao” menu, which offers guests the option of ordering a meal about half the size of a normal portion.
We began our dining experience with a few cocktails. Our waitress Maureen, who was extremely on point, personable and very attentive, suggested we begin with a few of their popular Martini’s and some homemade Sangria. When they arrived we noticed not only are the food portions large, but so are the drinks. The martinis are served in special ordered, 10oz glasses! The White Chocolate Martini is specially made by the bartender with godiva white chocolate liquor (above right). We also had a Toasted Coconut Martini made with coconut rum, fresh coconut juice, a splash of pineapple juice and finished with a rim of toasted coconut (below left). The Sangria was also impressive, cleverly presented in a glass and filled with an abundance of fresh fruit (below right).
To accompany our drinks we were given a classic breadbasket (below left) served with an olive oil and balsamic mix and sliced Parmesan cheese (below right).
The Drunken Mussels were the first appetizer to reach our table (below left). These Prince Edward Island mussels are steamed with caramelized onions, pancetta and a touch of cream and sambuca. It’s a popular menu item and a pleasantly unique portrayal, as it is prepared with sambuca. The mussels were meaty, tender and full of flavor! The pancetta is an excellent additive as it provides a slight smokiness. The sauce is definitely something to rave about, so be sure to save some bread to soak it up with.
You’ve never seen a rice ball until you’ve seen the one offered at Ciao Baby (above right)! This homemade, Sicilian Rice Ball is risotto filled, made with ground meat, peas and plum tomato sauce topped with melted mozzarella and fresh ricotta cheese. It’s surely a meal in itself – heavy, hearty and downright delicious. Maureen portioned out the 3 pound helping for us to share. The tomato sauce really stood out as it was flavorful and just amazing, made from San Marzano tomatoes straight from Italy.
The Calamari Trio is a great option for people with different palates looking to share an appetizer (above left). It offers three delicious tastings of semolina fried calamari - sweet chili, marinara and gorgonzola flavored. You'll find this item on the Baby Ciao menu. The sweet chili calamari contain an appropriate amount of sweet and spicy flavor (above right). The marinara calamari is a traditional portrayal of the classic style (below left) and the gorgonzola calamari is a big favorite amongst patrons as they're overflowing with gorgonzola flavor (below right).
An interesting and tasty item you must try is the Linguini In Meatballs, and no we don’t mean linguini and meatballs (below left). These jumbo meatballs are stuffed with linguini and ricotta cheese and served in a homemade San Marzano plum tomato sauce. It is a an extremly creative interpretation of the classic Italian favorite.
After hearing Adam Richman rave about their traditional meatballs on TV, we jumped at the opportunity to taste them while waiting for our first entrée to arrive. These meatballs are jumbo, smell amazing and taste even better (above right)! It is quite apparent why Ciao Baby is so famous for them.
The Ravioli di Casa features homemade ravioli sautéed with lobster and sweet peas, served in a champagne cream sauce (below left). We were given a single portion and it was enough to feed the whole table. The ravioli were homemade, ricotta cheese stuffed, soft and prepared to a perfect al dente. We were pleasantly surprised with the plentiful amount of lobster found throughout and thoroughly enjoyed our first entrée.
continued with the Gemelli Con Salsiccia (above right). This dish offers the biggest
family style portion of pasta we’ve ever seen! It’s described as a portion for
two, but could easily feed five. This bountifully portioned entrée consists of
crumbled sweet Italian sausage, mushrooms and steamed broccoli rabe tossed in a
sun-dried tomato cream sauce and served over twirled macaroni with a “dollop” of
ricotta. It’s like three Italian dishes in one and was Adam Richman’s favorite
dish in the restaurant (aside from the meatballs of course). The pasta was prepared
exquisitely and the luscious flavors from all ingredients combine to create a
wholesome, flavorful pasta course we’d highly recommend – but make sure you
don’t dine alone when you order it!
Next we sampled the Chilean Sea Bass topped with a roasted pignoli nut oreganata crust and served over a bed of julienne vegetables with a balsamic reduction (below left). The portion for one presents a 14oz. fish with a crisp outer crust and is tender as can be on the inside. The fish was light, flaky and moist and this staple dish is a best seller that has always been on the menu.
final entrée was the Campanelle Beef Ragu (above right), braised boneless beef
short rib slow roasted in a San Marzano tomato sauce for five to six hours, tossed
with shredded parmesan cheese and served over campanelle pasta. Again, this single
portioned entrée presents a plethora of food. The luscious flavors were divine and
the diced short ribs were tender and savory.
Believe it or not, we somehow managed to save room for dessert. The Volcano is an eruption of sweetness you won’t be able to pass up, regardless of how full you may be (below left). The edible milk chocolate shell is made in house and is filled with 14 scoops of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, Oreo cookie crumbs, fresh fruit, walnuts and whipped cream – all overflowing onto a platter of more ingredients. It’s admirably and creatively presented and Maureen was nice enough to dish it out for us to enjoy, although it is almost too beautiful to cut apart! The Volcano is without a doubt a homerun on the dessert menu that you’ll want to save room for.
homemade treat you’re bound to enjoy is the Ice Box – layered graham crackers
and chocolate pudding (above right). The rich chocolate pudding was not overly
sweet, but all around the dessert was a delectable treat that we washed down with a
warm Cappuccino (above center).
It’s rare to find both good food and good service, but you’ll surely find both at Ciao Baby. They serve extra large family style portions and always with a smile. If you don’t see something on the menu – ask! They’re always willing to make traditional Italian favorites not found on the menu. Come for dinner, you’ll have leftovers for a week!