A Modern Italy
By Leah & Alesa/
If you have yet to visit Tuscany, a trip
to Café Formaggio on Old Country Road in Carle Place
could give you a good taste of what beholds that beautiful
Formaggio, which is the Italian word for cheese, kept some
of the menu items from it predecessor, Café Spazzo,
but the owners revamped both the interior design and the menu
with authentic details that bring the flavor and style of
Italy to life in the middle of Long Island.
Open for just nine months, Formaggio already has a regular
following, whether its daily business lunches or weekend dinner
A large custom-made wood fire brick oven, situated next to
a small corner bar expands into the dining room that quickly
fills up during lunch and dinner every day.
Joe Licata and Mike Lodico, the owners of the restaurant,
designed everything themselves, from the ceilings to the floors.
Licata also owns a Pizza Place in East Northport. Our waiter,
Nick, was knowledgeable about the menu and the restaurant
business itself, helping the customers around us with care.
Along the wall of the brick oven stands large silver fondue
pots used for the signature Formaggio Fondue ($18 for two,
$32 for four), which features a different cheese each day,
served with grilled chicken, broccoli, ciabatta bread and
A sample of roasted red pepper hummus, olives, and fresh chunks
of parmigianna cheese on the table is better than a lone basket
The Carcolfi Fritti ($9) appetizer, artichoke heart pieces
breaded and fried, served with a unique franchese pesto sauce
are simple but unique. Menu items at Formaggio are lightly
fried, for a ‘barely bad for you’ taste.
For an even healthier option, take on the Portamella ($11)
a layered tower of fresh mozzarella, thin sliced marinated
Portobello mushrooms, red ripened tomato and basil, drizzled
with pesto and a balsamic reduction
The Insalata Pera ($12) with mixed mesclun greens topped with
poached pears, crumbled bleu cheese, caramelized walnuts and
infused with a balsamic reduction had a great balance of fresh
Top any salad with grilled portabella ($4) grilled or fried
chicken ($4) grilled shrimp ($5) or grilled steak ($6) and
it’s an instant meal.
Sometimes the most simple menu item is the best as with the
Margherita Pizza ($10), topped with a plum tomato basil sauce,
homemade fresh mozzarella, and a touch of olive oil. You can
create your own version of this thin crust pizza cooked in
the wood burning brick oven as well.
A long list of pasta dishes were on the menu and whole wheat
penne pasta is available upon request.
The Gnocci Cotti ($16) was smothered in a homemade creamy
roasted pepper pesto with breaded chicken and sun dried tomatoes.
Two entrees that top the list are the Due Castagne ($23),
one piece of veal and one piece of chicken stuffed together
with ham, provolone, fontina, and mozzarella, then breaded
and fried topped with chestnut sauce. The other is the Veal
Osso Buco, a tender veal shank, topped with a demi-glaze brown
sauce, and Italian rissoto, which was well prepared.
Two lunch specials bring in a large crowd from 11 a.m. to
3 p.m. The first is $5 appetizers with the choice of bruschetta,
mini riceballs, zucchini sticks, or mini calzones.
A prix fixe lunch menu ($12.95) includes your choice of panini,
hero or the chicken bruschetta pizza served with a side of
Formaggio salad with a complimentary mini cannoli and coffee
For desert we sampled another Formaggio creation, a brick
oven pizza dessert covered with melted chocolate, fresh fruit
and the European staple, Nutella.
In the highly trafficked dining area of Old Country Road,
if you like Italian food at a reasonable price, Café
Formaggio is worth the drive.
307 Old Country Road
Carle Place, NY 11514
Atmosphere: Relaxed upscale
Sunday - Thursday: 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
Friday & Saturday 11 a.m.-11 p.m.