“As a bustling metropolis was welcomed in the turn of the century, an Italian American tradition was born in the heart of New York’s Little Italy. The Original Vincent’s Clam bar, established in 1904, offered the perfect setting for one to enjoy an authentic Italian dining experience”.
That tradition, I’m happy to say, continues today on Long Island in Carle Place and directly across the street from the Roosevelt Field shopping mall.
As with any restaurant I choose to include in this blog, it’s all about the dishes I have enjoyed while dining with them.
This writing is long overdue, so let me start by saying that once you enter this restaurant, your senses are immediately surrounded by that old world Italian feeling. How can they not be when the oil and garlic aroma greets you and Dean Martin is crooning “That’s Amore” along with other Italian classics playing in the background?
My first experience with Vincent’s was at least 25 years ago at a location (I think on Mulberry Street) in New York City. The big draw for me was always the baked clams and a big bowl of al dente linguine covered with the famous Vincent’s red sauce.Bottom line: If you like sauces (available in mild, medium and hot)…ie gravy…Vincent’s is the place for you. For me, it’s mild and I’ll control the heat with my own sprinkling of crushed red pepper.
While I was perusing the International Fancy Food Shows in NYC, I ran into Mr. Robert Marisi presiding over his Vincent’s booth graciously passing out tastes of his Vincent’s Original sauces. You’ll find him still presiding over his domain from a small table by the front in his Carle Place location. He’s also there making sure his customers are treated to complimentary tastes of new and special menu items such as this cup of Tomato Basil Soup with Basil Chiffonade seen below. The concept of creating a successful new menu item is easy to understand. If you can taste it and you like it…you’ll buy it. Capisci?
A tasting of Tomato Basil Soup/Chiffonade of Basil
I have to say I was quite happy to see that Vincent’s was alive and well on Long Island and I now make it in as often as I can. Trust me when I say lunch is quite impressive for the price. In many restaurants, lunch specials are lower in cost because the portions are smaller. Not here. Lunch portions are still big enough for two and by most people’s definition…huge!
One recent afternoon while sitting in my usual spot at the food bar, a fellow with a familiar face walks up to me and says with a smile “you’re sitting in my seat” (there’s actually a small brass plate with his name on it where I was sitting). For a split second, I felt like Charles Grodin lying on a beautiful beach in Miami enjoying some afternoon sun in the 1972 movie “The Heartbreak Kid”, when Cybill Shepherd approaches him and says “You’re on my spot”.
It happened to be Joe Gannascoli from the Soprano’s TV series at Vincent’s celebrating the release, and signing copies, of his new book “A Meal to Die For”. Of course I bought the book!
A few years ago, in another chance meeting I ran into Tony Tantillo**on the LIRR. We started talking about recipes and restaurants…and in the course of our conversation I told him he should find his way into Vincent’s in Carle Place, a restaurant he said he’d not heard of. Next thing you know, I’m watching his Sunday morning segment on TV and there’s Tony with a party going on at Vincents at 9AM Sunday morning!
Ok…on to the food…
My favorite dish…hands down…is the steamed calamari atop linguine and covered with their Vincent’s Original recipe mild sauce.
Steamed Calamari Closeup
Eric proudly serving
Anything clams is for me. White clam sauce, fresh clams and baked clams are still wonderful and the eggplant parmesan is a winner.
As you can see, my menu doesn’t vary much. Simply put, these are the dishes I go for.
You have to have dessert. No matter which dessert I’ve eaten, they are all great. My favorite is the creme brulee. It’s freshly prepared on the spot and is served with a perfect chill inside and a nice warm crispy caramelized sugar top.
On my last visit, I was treated to a not your typical Napoleon.
Definitely not your average Napoleon
On your way out, you can stop by the front counter and grab some of Vincent’s mild, medium or hot Original sauces or a Vincent’s T-shirt proclaiming Legalize Marinara!
Vincent’s Original Sauces
Bert with gracious proprietor Robert
Vincent’s Original Sauces for Kids
On your way in or way out, ask for Robert and tell him Bert sent you.He’s a sincere people person and will always have a nice greeting for you.
Bert with his favorite steamed calamari atop al dente linguine
**Tony Tantillo hosts a food segment on Channel 2 (CBS) on Sunday morning. He either visits restaurants to spread the word on what he thinks you will enjoy or prepares his favorite recipes on the air.
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