City Cellar & La Famiglia
The City Cellar Restaurant in Westbury, directly opposite Target and next to Famous Dave's BBQ, is a stunning visual achievement. Its sleek, modern look is a real knockout. Once inside, you are welcomed to a large, beautifully decorated room that has the chic of Manhattan and the smoothness of Florida. Tables are tastefully a good difference from each other, insuring not bumping in to your neighbor. The adventure begins.
Our hostess led us to a table surrounded by a few families, but mainly 20- to 30-year-old men and women, fashionably dressed and out for a good time. Groups of women validated that this is the place to be seen.
It was all downhill from here. It is unfortunate that both the food and the service doesn't match City Cellar's visual splendor. It took about 15-20 minutes for a waiter to drop by. He took the drink orders and then disappeared. Bread was brought by. It was sourdough bread and hard as a rock, both in the crust and the inside. We showed it to the waiter as we knocked it on the table for emphasis. We could have hammered nails with it.
"Sometimes they leave it out for awhile," he confessed. He made no offer to replace the bread so we made the request. A return visit brought no bread so a second request was made. This one was better, but by now we had finished the appetizers.
For appetizers, we had the mushroom and onion soup, in light cream sauce with pinot grigio. If you are a mushroom lover, this is the dish for you. It is served in a bowl that is half filled, making the soup look like a lot less than it really is.
I ordered the escargot in garlic butter, a very bland dish with no trace of the promised garlic. At $11, it was a total waste of money.
For entrees, we split our dishes. A pasta order of farfalle with Portobello mushrooms and roma and sun dried tomatoes in a pesto sauce with pignoli nuts yielded a miniscule amount of chicken pieces, which were less than bite-sized. Again, a somewhat bland dish. I had the veal and braised beef Bolognese with baby mushrooms and strands of parmigiana and rigatoni.If rigatoni goes for about 59 cents a pound retail, my portion was about 15 cents worth - an incredibly small amount of pasta. The veal was tough, and the beef was probably pureed and there was no visible meat present. The tab for each of these two disasters was $19 each.
Diners can also order the crabmeat crusted Chilean bass for $29 and a 12-ounce New York Strip steak with garlicky potatoes for a mere $34 - you've got to be kidding. This has to be one of the worst deals on Long Island.
Our waiter confessed that a Florida company owned this beautiful place. The wine display behind the bar must have 1,000 bottles. This is a fashionable, trendy place to be seen, but if it's good food you're looking for at somewhat normal prices, walk next door to Famous Dave's and order practically anything from the menu. It will be better than the City Cellar.
For those who would like to experience the ambiance, come after dining hours. For others, you may call (516) 693-5400 for reservations. The City Cellar is located at 1080 Corporate Drive in Westbury.
Just when you vow you'll never go out to
eat again after a bad dining experience, you bounce back. A visit to La Famiglia
Restaurant in Glen Cove restored our faith in food preparation.
No one will ever accuse La Famiglia of being sleek or chic. It is a small neighborhood restaurant on a restored School Street. What it does offer is great food and great prices - which shows you can't tell a book by its cover.
As soon as you walk through the door, you are greated by an owner and his band of merry men: "What are you looking for?" they ask. "We can make it for you."
The meal starts off with kick ass bread, both Italian and foccacia. A huge
bottle of olive oil is brought to the table. Let the party begin!
The junior member of our review crew opted for a slice of pizza, huge for $2 and a plate of rigatoni in butter. A delight for $6.50.
La Famiglia offers six kinds of pasta in a variety of sauces. We ordered a plate of rigatoni carbonara. A huge plate of rigatoni, with a mountain of bacon and a small amount of onions in a cream sauce was a work of art. It was not drowned in sauce, but a beautiful mixture of ingredients. This set us back a whopping $10.50.
The other member of our crew had chicken fraincoise, an accompaniment of penne a la vodka. The vodka sauce was light and flavorful. The cheese was grated, not braised. It too was a gigantic portion which was partially carried home. This was an unbelievable $8.50.
Throughout the meal, our waiter kept asking how everything was, brought a new bread-filled dish when he saw we had demolished the first batch. Everybody in the restaurant was smiling and laughing, obviously all having the same good time as us. A veal cutlet hero that was huge and very tender set us back a big $7. This sandwich had about 50 times the veal that my veal Bolognese had at City Cellar.
When we headed out, I spoke to one of the owners, Paul, and complimented
him on his food and their prices. He commented, "If you have good food,
people will come back." I know I will.
La Famiglia is located at 5 School Street in Glen Cove; call (516) 759-7549.