12 North Park Ave., Rockville Centre
(516) 764-3000, www.dodicirestaurant.com
There is plenty to love about Dodici, a longtime favorite on Rockville Centre’s restaurant row. This is the spot for romantic dining, a festive gathering, or simply a fine meal with family or friends. Décor is exquisitely Romanesque — gilt molding, vaulted ceilings, classic paintings and soft lighting — reminiscent of Tuscany at its best. In warm weather, French doors open onto sidewalk dining.
Dominating the menu is authentic Northern Italian cuisine … but with a creative, gourmet twist that seems to be enhanced each year. Dinner appetizers, soups and salads are $8 to $14. Panini and pizzas are $12 to $15. Pastas are $20, and entrees, $26 to $39. Specials change often and prices vary. Desserts are $10 to $12.
Raymond Montemurro, who also owns the more casual Blue Moon, opened Dodici in 1992. His family, originally from Italy, has owned restaurants for three generations. So it’s no surprise that Dodici runs seamlessly and flawlessly, from top notch chefs to servers who are polished, accommodating and well-informed. And as a wine enthusiast, Montemurro takes pride and pleasure in offering his customers an exceptional selection.
Following our waiter’s wine pairing expertise, we sipped Italian Chardonnay, and later, a vintage from California. Arugula salad was far from simple — baby greens with walnuts, shaved pecorino, warm roasted cipollini onions and walnut oil. Insalata di Baccalla included marinated cod fish, onions, peppers, celery and citrus vinaigrette. Burrata Valentina was superb in both flavor and presentation — fresh mozzarella around a creamy center, thin slices of sopresatta, green beans, olives, roasted peppers, and artichoke hearts, drizzled with EVOO. Fried Calamari was perfectly crisp, yet very tender.
As most items at Dodici, pasta is homemade. Linguini Marechiara was lush with sweet baby clams, shrimp and basil, tossed in light tomato sauce. Orecchette Pugliesi was a tasty mix of sausage, Gaeta olives, broccoli rabe, garlic and oil. Salmone Atlantico offered an explosion of luscious flavor — roasted salmon over shitake mushrooms, leeks, and grape tomatoes in a sauce of lemon, sun dried tomatoes, and white wine.
We were wowed by Lemoncello Truffle, a tangy sorbet sprinkled with two sugars, garnished with whipped cream. It was a heavenly finale, paired with cinnamon-dusted Cappuccino.
Dodici is open from noon to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; noon to 11 p.m. on Friday; 1 to 11 p.m. on Saturday; and 2 to 10 p.m. on Sunday. Catering is available at the restaurant for groups up to 100. Valet parking is a great convenience, offered Thursday through Saturday. Reservations can be made on their website or by phone.
■ Arugula Insalate
■ Insalate di Baccala
■ Burrata Valentina
■ Orecchiette Pugliesi
■ Linguini Marchiaro
■ Salmone Atlantico
■ Lemoncello Truffle