It’s a pretty good sign when you walk into a restaurant in the middle of the afternoon and the place is completely packed. That’s exactly what we walked into on a mid Friday afternoon at the end of June at Emilio’s Restaurant. The restaurant is located at 2201 Jericho Turnpike in Commack, New York. Known to locals as simply Emilio’s, the restaurant is officially named Emilio’s Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria. So many restaurants come and go on Long Island. New Yorkers show no mercy or forgiveness when its not right. However, Emilio’s has been around for a long time. Its packed constantly with returning customers. The reasons Emilio’s customers return frequently are simple – quality food, good prices, and quick service.
Emilio’s Restaurant utilizes a successful model that has helped many Italian restaurants survive in the New York area. That model thrives on the utilization of a thriving pizza businesses complimented by a well run restaurant. Many pizzerias on Long Island and in New York City attempt to combine both. However, Emilio’s Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria presents one of the better restaurants halves in that lot.
When we arrived at Emilio’s Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria on Friday, we were seated very quickly. There was no waiting around for a host to come out of the back or from behind the counter. The host was standing at the podium with a smile. We were led to a separate dining area that was lined with tables and booths. The tables had enough separation between them so that you did not feel squeezed in, or that the person sitting next to you could hear every word you said. For myself, comfort is an important part of the dining experience.
Within only about a minute of being seated, a very professional waiter was at our table asking If we would like any beverages. This was followed quickly by a bread basket being placed on our table. The mere fact that bread was placed on our table during a lunch time seating was impressive. The quickness of the delivery was also noted. The bread was a mixture of dinner roles and Italian bread. The bread was warm and fresh and completely devoured in minutes. The bread was also accompanied by a small tray of delicious olives. On the table was a nice bottle of olive oil.
Emilio’s presents patrons with a lunch menu from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm ever day. They have a large lunch menu that almost seems like a dinner menu. That is until you see there dinner menu which features many different items. Like most restaurants, the prices on the dinner menu are much higher than the courses served at lunch.
Emilio’s Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria: Fried Calamari
We started our lunch order with an appetizer of fried calamari. We believe an early test of the greatness of a restaurant can be determined rather quickly within the presentation of the classic fried calamari dish. In that department, Emilio’s Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria hits a home run. Their friend calamari was cooked perfectly. The batter was golden brown and thin. Unlike many restaurants that drown their calamari in globs of batter, Emilio’s fried calamari was coated perfectly resulting in a dish that was more calamari than batter.
Fried calamari is not the only true test of how good an Italian restaurants stacks up against their competition. In order to really gauge Emilio’s place in the restaurant pizzeria world, we ordered the true hallmarks of a traditional Italian restaurant – a Pasta Fagioli soup, a pasta, and a side of meatballs.
Emilio’s Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria: Pasta Fagioli soup.
Since this was lunch, ordering a bowl of soup along with an appetizer and entree would have required at least an extra hour in the gym, so a cup seemed like the better choice. The soup was presented in a very small cup that at first sight, was not very appetizing. The cup actually looked a little dirty although it was just the soup splashing against the edges. Still the presentation of the soup was weak if you care about that stuff. However looks can be deceiving as the soup delivered a perfect balance of pasta, spice, olive oil and beans. It was not the best I have ever had, but I would give it a strong 3 out of 4 stars.
For our main entrees my wife order a side of meatballs and I of course ordered the house special “Emilio’s famous” Alla Mamma. Now I am not sure why restaurants tend to call their sauce, or their meatballs, or their special dish “world famous.” It’s pretty obvious that if I asked someone n Paris or London if they ever heard of Emilio’s World Famous Homemade Rigatoni Alla Mamma, they would just utter something that I could not reprint. Nonetheless, realistically famous or not, it was a pretty good dish. The pasta was as fresh and homemade as the menu claimed it was. The same went for the ricotta cheese. Restaurant pizzerias always tend to make a great red pasta sauce. Emilio’s is no exception. Their red sauce is fantastic. The meatballs were fresh, but just a bit too salty. My wife’s side of meatballs were the exact same meatballs that were served in the famous Homemade Rigatoni Alla Mamma dish.
At the end of the meal, the waiter brought us over a small little plate of biscotti and mints which was a very nice touch especially at a lunch serving. In the end, if your looking for a nice quick lunch that is not too expensive but delivers good quality food in a nice setting, Emilio’s Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria in Commack will not let you down.