An Italian Piazza Right Here On Long Island!
The busy town of Merrick is home to many Italian restaurants, but none as genuinely gracious as La Strada which is located right on Merrick Avenue with ample parking and a convenient rear entrance. The dining room is appointed with delicately hand-painted murals of Italian shops and vintage ads. Under foot is beautiful red brick and the sounds of classic Italian music play softly in the background paying homage to an Italian piazza.
We were warmly and sincerely welcomed by hostess/owner Eva. Hands on husband and wife team, Guy and Eva, own and operate this charming little restaurant. They are a lovely couple with an infectious excitement for food and hospitality. Guy has had a lifelong passion for Italian cooking inspired by his grandmother. Having grown up in Queens in an Italian neighborhood, naturally his first dish to master was the pizza, which you will appreciate once you taste their brick oven pies. This eatery is not to be confused with a pizzeria, but rather a restaurant with great brick oven pizza.
were seated near the window with a nice view of the village.
You will, without a doubt, sit in the most comfortable seat you have ever sat
in! This luxurious cushy chair is a
seat your derriere will not soon forget! This
billowy pillow top seat will keep you feeling comfortable course after course. It is a great spot for a romantic date, yet also friendly and
welcoming enough for a family night out. Our
server Matt (above right), who was extremely knowledgeable and friendly, quickly
greeted us with fresh garlic knots.
Their signature red wine is called “Grandpa Cha Cha.” With its higher-octane level than most wines, it’s best to sip slowly unless you want to be dancing the Cha Cha with Grandpa! Its bold and spicy flavor is a great combination with the Margherita pizza (below left), which we sampled as an appetizer. There are a variety of reasonably priced delicious pizzas. You can tell that each exceptional pizza was conceived by a true pizza lover. The 12’’ pies are perfect for an appetizer for the table or an entrée for one. This pizza is perfectly cooked with a crunchy bottom and crust, yet still soft on the top. Another appetizer not to miss is the Mussels Marinara (below right). They are served in a spicy homemade marinara sauce. The mussels are very tender and perfectly complimented by the slight kick of the spicy marinara sauce.
The dish of the night was the “Burrata Cheese” appetizer (below left). This dish was a special but it’s absolutely something to ask for even if you may not see it on the menu. This fresh mozzarella tasted as if it was freshly hand-pulled by the gods! It was served with fresh tomatoes and basil with a balsamic glaze. Just as enjoyable was the Pear Insalata (below right). This salad is served with Mesculin greens, homemade poached pears, gorgonzola cheese and roasted carmelized walnuts finished with a raspberry dressing. If you are not a gorgonzola fan they will gladly substitute it with fresh goat cheese.
The menu boasts a variety of five different soups; which is comforting for this cold winter weather. We tasted the classic Pasta Fagioli (below left), a hearty macaroni and bean soup. With fresh plum tomatoes and garlic overtones, this soup is great as an appetizer but also fulfilling as an entrée.
the traditional Italian pasta course we had the Penne Alla Vodka (above right).
The perfectly cooked al dente pasta really made the dish exceptional.
The vodka sauce was creamy and light. It
was followed by a lemon sorbet, leaving you undeniably prepared for your entrée.
The first entrée we shared was the Lamb Chops served over Broccoli Rabe (below left). The lamb chops were served obviously bone-in and were superbly seasoned and tender. The second entrée was the Chilean Sea Bass over Spinach (below right). The filet of Sea Bass was quite tasty, falling apart under your fork and expertly prepared in a delicious buttery garlic and oil sauce.
For dessert Matt brought out an impressive array of sweet delights for our final course. This assortment was beautifully presented on a tray that will make your mouth water and forget how full you thought you were! (below left) The homemade apple crepe (below center) was drizzled with a butternut squash sauce and vanilla frosting. This original seasonal dessert is semi- sweet, rustic, and perfect for the anti-chocolate dessert lover! The homemade tiramisu (below center) was airy and fluffy with just the right coffee flavor.
our stomachs settled with the last few sips of our frothy cappuccinos (above right),
we all felt completely satisfied and agreed that no stone was left unturned.
We had sampled some classic favorites as well as some new dishes that made
our experience all the more memorable. As
aforementioned, the Burrata Cheese special appetizer was the dish that will not soon
be forgotten. The memory of the most
creamy and delicious mozzarella you’ve ever tasted will have you counting the days
until you will return!