By Jano Tantongco
Tucked away in a Commack commercial center is a gateway to old-world Italy that serves classic cuisine with modern sensibilities.
La Scala restaurant’s humble beginnings can be traced back to 1974, when it opened as a pizzeria. Since then, the restaurant has flourished and expanded. It was renovated last year to further expand the size of the establishment and refine its classic and welcoming interior, which is adorned with bottles of olive oil and wine.
From busboy to co-owner, Christopher Castelli started at the restaurant in 2003 and dedicated himself to his craft, working his way up the ladder and becoming an asset to La Scala.
The original founder and owner of the restaurant, Nunzio Cusumano, eventually looked to hand off operations to his daughter, Daniella Penne. Castelli, of Commack, was brought on board last year as a partner of the restaurant in September of last year. Carlos Gonzalez also joined on as a managing partner.
“We work as a family. We try and give the best quality food that we can, a warm atmosphere and make people feel welcome, Castelli said. “We have an interest in customers’ lives, everyone’s treated like family.”
Diving into antipasti, the Clams Trio special plate featured a variety of antipasti menu items including two Baked Clams, Clams Casino and Stuffed Clams. The Clams Casino ($10.99) feature bacon, green and red peppers, celery, garlic and onions. The Stuffed Clams ($10.99) are packed with fresh shrimp, lobster and crabmeat. The Baked Clams ($9.99) are baked to perfection with seasoned breadcrumbs. Each of these shine and brim with impeccable freshness.
The Cold Antipasto (Large for $13.99, Small for $10.99) brings together imported meats and vegetables, marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The jalapeno stuffed with prosciutto and cheese perfectly exemplifies the beloved platter with accents of tangy spiciness and a deep burst of savory goodness.
The Hot Antipasto (large $18.99; small $12.99) plates up shrimp oreganata, baked clam, seafood stuffed mushroom, eggplant rollatine and stuffed pepper oven baked in a light marinara sauce. The stuffed mushroom wrapped hearty chunks of shrimp and crabmeat in an earthy shell, while the eggplant rollatine absorbs and captures the fresh zest of the marinara sauce.
Lobster Ravioli ($14.99) is composed of homemade striped ravioli, stuffed with lobster and topped with shrimp in a white cream sauce. The lobster is deeply satisfying as its porous texture took in the rich cream sauce, wrapped in a delightfully chewy ravioli.
The Pollo Mona Lisa ($11.99), a specialty at La Scala, is chicken rolled into hollowed meatball, stuffed with prosciutto, provolone and mozzarella cheese lightly breaded and fried. It’s also sauteed with fresh mushrooms, roasted red peppers and shallots, all served in a brown sauce with a touch of cream. The chicken exterior remains juicy and flavorful, and when cut, gives way to a gooey cheese blend accented by the prosciutto. Its surrounding medley of sauce and vegetables is sure to earn a place as diners’ favorite dish.
Desserts are served on a platter that is served throughout the restaurant for $6.95 each.
The Chocolate Polenta Cake is not only profoundly rich, but it’s also flourless, made just from polenta. It blends together white, dark and milk chocolate to satisfy all types of chocolate lovers.
The Almond Cone features a crunchy cone dipped in caramel filled with a decadently delicious New York cheesecake filling. The cone itself is crunchy yet chewy as an ice cream sugar cone, dipped in saccharine caramel, coming together to form a perfect vessel for the one-of-a-kind filling.
Cuisine: Modern Italian
Atmosphere: Polished yet relaxed
Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
34 Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, Commack