Great Neck prides itself on its Italian fare—from fancy food to kosher to pizza—with plenty of options for diners looking for all sorts of dishes. Yet, the peninsula has never been home to a casual, authentic Italian eatery specializing in artisanal options, like homemade panini, calzones, antipastos and gelato, that can be found in an Italian market—until now. The new +39 Italian Eatery incorporates traditional ingredients into innovative takes on classics, presented in an informal, café-style setting.
Located at 16 Middle Neck Rd., +39 Italian Eatery opened its doors to the public on Thursday, April 19, taking over the space that housed the recently closed Great Neck Gourmet Deli. The owners of La Nonna Bella, an authentic cucina in Garden City, decided to open a more casual dining option in Great Neck, promoting the expression “l’arte dell’artigiano” or “the art of the artisan.”
The restaurant functions much like a café, where customers order at a counter and staff brings food to diners’ tables. The ambiance is quite inviting and spacious. Pastries are displayed right by the entrance, fresh ingredients from the salad bar are laid out near the selection of Italian small plates and desserts and a large pizza oven sit in the back of the kitchen, overlooking the plain dining room that has a few dark wooden tables and chairs. Service is fantastic, as employees are knowledgeable about the menu and are willing to share the restaurant’s philosophy with customers.
+39 opens very early (6 a.m. on weekdays, 7 a.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m. on Sundays) for patrons to order drinks from the modern espresso bar that include typical espresso, cappuccino, latte and macchiato, with some more atypical options like espressino freddo (icy, creamy cappuccino) and caffe leccese (espresso with almond syrup). Pressed fruit juice, Italian soda and fruit nectar are also available. Early morning food selections include Colazione or breakfast options, including flaky croissants, homemade pastries by the pound and light Bomboloni Italian doughnuts with a choice of fillings like Nutella or Italian custard. Gelato and sorbetti in a variety of flavors are also offered.
For lunch and dinner options, +39’s chopped salad bar features everything from roasted peppers to chickpeas to shaved parmigiano to imported tuna, with choice of romaine, baby spinach, arugula or mesclun as a base. A few ready-to-go salads are also available, such as Caesar with chicken, arugula with fennel and shaved pecorino with grilled shrimp, and carpaccio with roasted beet and goat cheese in a red-wine vinaigrette.
Panini are very popular, as well, served either cold or hot off the panini press. Popular options include Terrone (mixed grilled vegetables with fresh mozzarella), Laziole (porchetta with caramelized onion, provolone and spicy mayo), Barese (mortadella sausage with provolone served on focaccia) and Calabrese (breaded chicken with broccoli rabe and cherry peppers with mozzarella).
+39 also offers Pizze or individual pizza pies, like traditional Margherita, crudo with prosciutto di parma, +39 with porcini mushrooms, Italian sausage and truffle cream, as well as 10 other delicious options featuring fresh Italian ingredients.
“Street food” options, like arancini rice balls and potato croquettes, Italian antipasto plates and Barese-style calzones, are also served.
I tried the Genovese panini with prosciutto di parma, smoked mozzarella, roasted tomato and pesto mayo. The prosciutto was extremely fresh and had a nice salty taste, while the mozzarella was milky and soft. The pesto mayo had a creamy consistency and had a strong basil taste that complemented the mozzarella well. I also ordered the Bomboloni doughnut with Nutella, which was amazingly soft and sugary.
Although a bit on the expensive side, the expertise in the kitchen with years of experience, along with the well-thought-out menu, makes for a fantastic casual dining experience replicating the fresh, exciting flavors of Italy.