By The Foodies/
It’s not difficult these days to stumble upon a
combination pizza and pasta place. They’re practically
on every corner, creating a new challenge for budding entrepreneurs;
balancing quality food and service with affordability. Restaurateurs
need only follow the model of Joseph Pullara and John Campanella
of Olio in Commack, where traditional Italian meets contemporary
charm and family is always the special of the day.
options are seemingly limitless at Olio. Stop in at the pizzeria
and enjoy a hero sandwich or slice of specialty pizza, of
which the varieties are endless – chicken marsala, chicken
parmigiana, and sausage and broccoli rabe ($19.95 for a pie),
to name a few. Or you can enjoy a long relaxing meal in a
comfortable setting with roomy booths and tables, served by
an attentive and friendly wait staff
Olio, which opened about three years ago, is one restaurant
in a partnership of five that began with La Scala in Commack
about 30 years ago. Caffe Amici in Selden opened next and,
not so coincidentally, is where cousins Pullara and Campanella
got their start in the restaurant business at a young age
working as bus boys and counter runners. O Sole Mio in Stony
Brook opened next, followed by Buona Sera in Smithtown and
You start your meal with a burst of flavor to prepare your
palate. At lunch, it’s olives and garlic knots drizzled
with oil, and at dinner, a plate of capponata – a deliciously
sweet and flavorful dish of cold vegetables in oil and vinegar
– and homemade focaccia bread topped with tomatoes and
onions. Warm and fluffy on top and crunchy on the bottom,
if that bread was a preview of Olio’s pizza, mamma mia!
We were wonderfully surprised by Olio’s appetizers.
The portobello di rabe ($7.95), a large mushroom stuffed with
chopped broccoli rabe, thinly sliced sausage, sundried tomatoes
and garlic in a white wine sauce, left us giddy from the explosive
parade of flavors. We were just as taken by a mouth-watering
mussels Rockefeller ($8.95), large and tender New Zealand
mussels on the half-shell topped with Gorgonzola and Swiss
cheeses, spinach and garlic in a creamy béchamel sauce.
The selection of entrees and pasta is extensive and sure to
please everyone. We enjoyed a nicely prepared chicken sorrentino
($14.50) that came with three large and juicy cutlets topped
with breaded eggplant, a thin slice of prosciutto and fresh
mozzarella, but our pasta stole the show. The farfalle calabrese
with shrimp, asparagus and mushrooms atop bowtie pasta in
a creamy pink sauce was the perfect dish to combat the cold
outside. The shrimp were sizable and the portion generous,
but it was the sauce that roped us in. And there was still
so much more to try, from classics like pasta with alfredo
sauce ($10.95) and rollatine ($15.95) to more modern dishes
of whole wheat pasta and grilled balsamic chicken ($11.95).
A creamy carrot cheesecake, a homemade especially for Olio,
rounded out our enjoyable meal.
Though one of a partnership with a fine reputation, Olio very
much has its own charisma, personified by the dedication and
heart of its owners. It truly has that personal touch some
pizzerias don’t take the time to add, particularly during
the holiday season. The restaurant is splashed with holiday
fun, stockings, lights and presents, and Christmas music leaves
If you find yourself in Commack, say Olio!
5990 Jericho Turnpike Commack
Atmosphere: Cozy and casual, a perfect family
Cuisine: Italian and pizza specialties
Perks: Mon. and Tues. pasta nights, where,
for $11.95, patrons enjoy a beverage (coffee, tea, soda, or
wine), salad or soup, pasta dish, and dessert.
Hours: Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat.