Restaurants LIFESTYLE - Newsday
Bacaro Italian Tavern review: Massapequa Park restaurant offers flavorful food, party-like vibe
April 17, 2016
By Peter M. Gianotti firstname.lastname@example.org
Veteran chef Joseph Bonacore returns to the kitchen at Bacaro Italian Tavern in Massapequa Park.
When Joseph Bonacore exited Oceanside’s Lawson Pub last year, he intended to stay away from the restaurant business for a while.
Be glad the plan didn’t last long.
Bonacore returns at Bacaro Italian Tavern, an upbeat, noisy, Italianate spot that quickly has become a neighborhood favorite, for full-flavored food and live music.
It looked like they’d have to set up alfresco tables on Park Boulevard during a recent “Ladies Night,” which featured a fixed-price dinner special, jewelry displayed opposite the jammed bar and a singer who turned Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” into party sounds.
Yet, as Stephen Stills wrote in another context, “There’s something happening here.” And what it is, is very clear: creative cooking, fair prices and attentive service, even when it seems that the dining room and bar scenes seem a beverage away from chaos.
The name refers to those casual Venetian wine bars with terrific snacks at the counter that allow for a leisurely, civilized break in the day. Bacaro even labels its small plates “cicchetti,” as do the authentic bacari.
But this playful Bacaro has about as much to do with Venice as Sunrise Highway does with the Grand Canal.
Families gather for birthday celebrations, couples for anniversaries and dates, groups and solos for drinks and a taste of whatever Bonacore has in mind. Many diners have followed his career, including the 1990s star turn in Rockville Centre at Tuscany, a delightful restaurant, which, of course, had absolutely nothing to do with that region of Italy.
Here, millennials nibble on fried mozzarella sliders, crisp and dressed with tomato jam and basil aioli; and top triangles of pizza crust with a dip of artichoke and broccoli di rape. Boomers enjoy a savory spin on bruschetta, sparked with fiery, spreadable ’nduja sausage, ricotta and artichoke.
And everyone samples the crunchy, satisfying rice balls, packed with pancetta, Asiago cheese and peas. The kitchen turns New American with generous crabcakes and corn salsa, which improve on the dry pulled duck-and-broccoli di rape tacos. Try the eggplant “tidbits,” similar to Parmigiana but on rectangles of garlic bread; and the fine spinach-ricotta ravioli, finished with lemon, butter and pistachios.
Bonacore’s lasagna and manicotti are homey and very good, as is linguine, with broccoli, artichokes, roasted peppers, olive oil and toasted breadcrumbs. They’re trailed by fettuccine with “in the pink” sauce and shrimp; and fettuccine with crumbled chicken sausage, walnuts and broccoli di rape.
Alliteration aside, the now ever-present creamy-center Italian cheese isn’t ideal to melt atop a juicy “burrata burger.” And the salmon “nero style” does fiddle more toward burned than blackened, despite the corn-tomato-mozzarella salsa.
Mainstays such as the ample, panko-crusted chicken Parmigiana; and tender, grilled filet mignon, with broccoli di rape risotto, are highlights. That steak also delivers some nostalgia from Bonacore’s Tuscany: a Coca-Cola demi-glace. The hefty pork shank “osso buco” comes with butternut-squash risotto.
On the side, consider the roasted cauliflower “carbonara” seasoned with bacon, shallots, cream, and Asiago; and the roasted beets with pistachios and goat cheese.
“Bruleed” spoons of cannoli cream do take away from the two mini-cannoli with chocolate chips. Brownie “bites with a kiss” are crowned with Hershey baci, tiramisu turns into bonbons, gelato is treated like tempura.
Bonacore is as restless as ever.
Bacaro Italian Tavern in Massapequa Park is both a restaurant and a reunion. Joseph Bonacore, the chef, and Tom Soluri, the maître d’, are cousins who opened their first restaurant (Caraway in Massapequa) 30 years ago. I managed to keep track of Joe Bonacore’s path since and he’s continuously crafted creative dishes with superior ingredients that were rarely duplicated elsewhere.
The name Bacaro refers to the small, casual hangouts in Italy that serve unpretentious food and drink. It is a cozy, laid back, 125-seat spot with a fireplace, bare tables and floors, clean lines, multiple mirrors and scant wall decorations. The long bar is separated from the dining room by French doors so diners can see the bar’s five televisions but thankfully not hear them.
Bacaro shows its comfy, unassuming intentions and serves up warm cornbread and crisp, hearty triangular pieces with red pepper humus, gorgonzola and butter. Most bottles of wine cost a modest $24. Robust flavors and sizable portions are the order of the day here. The leadoff hitter was what might be the world’s largest wedge salad, harboring crisp pancetta, gorgonzola, tomato raisins and granola crunch in a creamy avocado and basil dressing ($10). The even larger Bacaro salad was bursting with chopped iceberg, salami, artichokes, olives, tomatoes, cucumber, grilled eggplant, grana padana and roasted red peppers ($10). Soup lovers should target the rich, rewarding lobster cappuccino in a glass ($7). Another small plate, Bacaro Bruschetta, had four ’nduja (spreadable prosciutto pieces) muted by their abundant ricotta and artichoke overlay ($9).
Often encountered linguini and white clam sauce, with out-of-the-shell Manila clams in a soft cipollini ($19) held their own here, as did a pile of chicken legs and thighs scarpiello with roasted potatoes, sweet sausage peppers and onions ($19). A burrata burger layered with plenty of bacon and the creamy cheese along with long, massive fries ($14) is a bargain. (A waiter overheard me say the meat was medium, not medium rare as ordered, and immediately deducted it from our bill.) Six husky cherry pepper spare ribs crowned with grilled, roasted red peppers, onions and cherry peppers ($23) provided a snappy accompaniment.
All desserts, except for gelato, are made in house, but we were too wiped out to try more than one: four overly delicate tiramisu bonbons ($7.95).
-Richard Jay Scholem practically invented the Long Island restaurant culture through 800+ reviews of the region's eateries both on radio and in print over the last 30 years. He is a former New York Times Long Island Section restaurant reviewer, has contributed to the Great Restaurants of...magazines and Bon Vivant, authored a book, aired reviews on WGSM and WCTO radio stations, served on the board of countless community and food and beverage organizations, and received many accolades for his journalism in both print and broadcast media. He is currently available for restaurant consultation. Reach him at (631) 271-3227.
Bacaro Italian Tavern, which opened in November, has a stone fireplace in its dining area and a separate bar. KATHY KMONICEK FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES
Born out of our love of fine wines and delicious food, Bacaro Italian Tavern has become the premiere location for great Italian food right in the heart of Massapequa Park, Long Island.
We are dedicated to offering only the finest and freshest foods. We have also taken great care in assembling a team of only the best chefs and experienced kitchen, bar, dining, and wait staff.
Come and taste the experience for yourself!
Voted Best of 2016!
By JOANNE STARKEY
JANUARY 23, 2016
“This is my kind of restaurant: warm and friendly, with good food, large portions and moderate prices,” said one of my dining companions about Bacaro Italian Tavern in Massapequa Park, which opened in November....
Bacaro is a solid neighborhood restaurant. Its warmth and generally impressive menu far outweigh my nitpicks.
Rating: Very Good
The Space: A casual spot that seats 130, with bare tables and cloth napkins. Wheelchair accessible.
The Crowd: As casual as the surroundings. There were lots of large groups including children. Servers were friendly and attentive.
The Bar: A separate room with a long active bar, 21 stools and three tall tables for two, along with a large high table for eight. There are about eight wines by the glass, at $7 each. The wine list has 22 bottles ($24 to $89) with about half of them priced at $24.
The Bill: Small plates are $6 to $12, salads are $10, pastas $15 to $20 and entrees $14 to $28.
What We Liked: Fried zucchini, crust and dip, beef short rib meatballs, classic Caesar salad, burrata salad, rigatoni carbonara, pasta special with sautéed sausage, onions and peppers, salmon Nero, pork chop Milanese style with salad on top, all desserts.
If You Go Mondays through Thursdays, 2 to 10 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays until 11 p.m.; Sundays, 1 to 9 p.m. Reservations are recommended. There is ample parking in a large lot behind the restaurant.
New York Times: DINING | LONG ISLAND
Review: Venetian Warmth at Bacaro Italian Tavern
Bacaro Italian Tavern Receives 2016 Best of Massapequa Park Award
Massapequa Park Award Program Honors the Achievement
MASSAPEQUA PARK June 9, 2016 -- Bacaro Italian Tavern has been selected for the
2016 Best of Massapequa Park Award in the Italian Restaurants category by the
Massapequa Park Award Program.
Each year, the Massapequa Park Award Program identifies companies that we believe
have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category.
These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service
to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Massapequa
Park area a great place to live, work and play.
Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2016 Massapequa Park Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Massapequa Park Award Program and data provided by third parties.
About Massapequa Park Award Program
The Massapequa Park Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Massapequa Park area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.
The Massapequa Park Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community's contributions to the U.S. economy.
SOURCE: Massapequa Park Award Program
***** Awesome! Clean Fresh Atmosphere and decor Amazing and mouthwatering *Off the hook* Entrees. This restaurant is off the CHART!
***** Was looking for a late afternoon/early dinner place today & decided to give Bacaro's a try. So happy we did! I went with my husband and 2 girls (ages 11 & 9) and everything was delicious and service was great! Started with warm bread with delicious spreads, had the mozzarella en carozza as an appetizer and all our meals were delicious. We are so happy to have a wonderful local restaurant! We can't wait to go back.
***** We were very excited when a new Italian spot opened in our town - we always love our local restaurants! This was no exception. Bacaro's food, service, and atmosphere have been amazing from day one! If you haven't been here yet, you're missing out!
***** Came in for a quick glass of wine on a Wednesday eve...saw an appetizer go by me, and I had to have some. The place was packed! They really have a great place here.
***** The Food is amazing at Bacaro!!! Their menu selection is unique! Make a reservation and Enjoy a nice evening there! The service is great! Bacaro has a beautiful atmosphere. It's and overall great dining experience!!
***** I love this place! The food couldn't get any better! The menu has a bunch of different options. The servers are attentive & professional. Always accommodating, family atmosphere! Great for office party's & family celebrations.
***** Thank you to Tom & TJ for making our baby girls first birthday an amazing day! From the food to the staff...you have an amazing team and delicious menu! Not sure where to go for dinner or where to host your next party...Bacaro is it!!!!! Looking forward to coming back soon!
***** Amazing food!! Great atmosphere, good music and friendly staff! Highly recommend!! We will definitely be back again! My new favorite place!!
***** Had my daughter's Christening party there a month ago and it was wonderful! We got raving reviews from our family and friends. They're still talking about the eggplant meatballs! Thank you!!
***** Just came from dinner! Five stars is not enough. The food was amazing! Service was tops! This restaurant will be a regular for sure! A treasure for Park Blvd.