If you ever wanted to give Italy a call, you don’t have to dial +39. Just visit +39 Italian Eatery at 16 Middle Neck Rd. in Great Neck Plaza.
Lino and Erica DeVivo, along with Lino’s brother Flavio, opened the casual Italian café earlier this month, promising a thoroughly Italian experience in both menu and atmosphere.
The music is Italian. The conversation too. Most of the equipment also comes directly from Italy, whether it’s the new gelato machine that churns the sweet stuff on the spot, a specialized espresso machine, or the oven in the back that can cook pizza in 60 to 90 seconds.
“It’s basically like a walkthrough Italy,” Erica De Vivo said on Thursday.
Erica and Lino DeVivo have operated La Nonna Bella – “The Beautiful Grandmother” – Ristorante Italiano in Garden City together since 2010. By opening the spin-off +39 Italian Eatery, Erica said it provides a new opportunity for both experimenting and combining a love of gelato and pizza together.
“He always wanted something beyond the fine dining,” Erica DeVivo said.
Erica DeVivo said the eatery offers simple authentic drinks from their espresso bar like creamy espressino freddo, Italian hot chocolate, which is closer to melted chocolate, lemon granita iced tea, and Lavazza coffee.
The croissants, while technically French, are a frequent presence in Italian diets, she said. +39 offers them in a variety of ways, such as filled with Italian custard, nutella or jam, as well as bombolini, or Italian doughnuts.
On top of these sweets are treats like macaroons, butter cookies, and other pastries.
More than a dozen paninis – Italian for “sandwiches” – are also offered. They range from the terrone, which features mixed grilled vegetables, fresh mozzarella and balsamic vinaigrette, to the piemontese, which includes roast beef, arugula, mushroom, caciocavallo and truffle cream.
“The paninis are all very very Italian,” DeVivo said.
Customers could also choose from 13 types of individual thin-crusted pizza pies, from the basic made with tomato sauce and prosciutto to the +39 special, which features porcini mushroom, crumbled Italian sausage, speck, fiori di latte, and speck.
DeVivo also highlighted a series of specialty Italian antipastos and fried and baked calzones without prosciutto, which she said are a specialty in the Puglia region of Italy where Lino grew up.
There is also a salad bar offering several toppings, where servers can make the salad in front of a customer or take an order over the phone, DeVivo said.
“The food business is tough. If you don’t love it, you can’t do it. We all love it, what we do,” DeVivo said. “I’m here all day, I go to the restaurant at night, we’re all restaurant foodies.”
DeVivo also said they are not aiming to compete with local pizza places, as all business owners work hard, but instead help bring more people to town, whether it’s their Garden City clientele or Italian foodies.
For more information, visit 39eatery.com or call (516) 918-9200.
+39 Italian Eatery is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.