Summary goes here.
Walking into La Gioconda, we were immediately greeted at the door. The restaurant itself is small and intimate, and very, very dark. The decor was very nice; we went around Christmastime and holiday lights decorated the branches. It was so dark I could hardly make out the pictures, but I could see they were old Italian portraits and scenes. The furniture and decor were a bit old fashioned, but seemed to fit.
I was expecting a romantic experience with my wife, but the mood was slightly shattered by the very, very loud Long Islanders seated at the table next to us, with their “Lawn Guyland” accents carrying throughout the restaurant. It would have been nice if the louder people could have been seated somewhere in the back, but then again the restaurant itself isn’t that big, so it might not have helped.
We started out with fresh bread. There was toasted Italian bread, bread sticks, and rolls.
One thing that impressed me right away was how flexible they were. My wife is on a low sodium diet and always asks restaurants if they can lessen the salt. 9 out of 10 times the answer is no, as the restaurant has already prepared the sauce with however much salt they want to put in. But our server told us that everything on the menu is cooked to order. In this day and age that’s something pretty rare. We noticed that entrees came with a side of pasta; we asked the server if we could have the linguini with clam sauce as our side, even though it wasn’t one of the choices. He didn’t hesitate, and said we could do it for a nominal extra charge, which I found reasonable.
We started with soup. I had the pasta fagoli.
The pasta was an excellent al dente, and the taste was fresh and hearty. It definitely was warm and filling.
Lisa had the special of the day: Butternut Squash Soup
The flavor of this soup was excellent. It was sweet and had a good flavor without being overpowering.
I’d asked the server what was good. He rattled off a few choices: the penne alla vodka, the chicken Bolognase, were good, he said, but he said the chicken Parmesan was the best, most popular dish. I decided to order that, while Lisa ordered pasta primavera.
Our linguine with clams came out first:
Now because Lisa likes clams, we get this dish pretty much at every Italian restaurant we go to. This one ranked towards the best of any we’ve had anywhere in Great Neck. The pasta was perfectly cooked, and the giant pieces of clam were pretty fresh. Overall the pasta was a bit on the oily side, but still had an excellent garlic flavor and was not too salty as many linguine with clams tend to be. The fresh seafood flavor really came through.
Next came the pasta primavera:
Lisa likes light dishes, and this one fit the bill. The vegetables were very fresh, although some were a little soggy. The blend of flavors with the onions, broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, and carrots was very good, and true to their word they didn’t make it too salty.
My chicken Parmesan came out next:
The chicken cutlet was thing, and had wonderfully generous portions of mozzarella on top. That said, I’ve definitely had better. Overall it wasn’t as crispy as I would have liked; I could actually peel the thin breading off of the chicken, and the cheese was somewhat congealed by the time it got to me. But still, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the meal, and I did clean my plate.
I’m always impressed, especially at a small restaurant like this, when the wait staff comes over to clean the crumbs off your table with one of those crumb scrapers. In fact, the service the whole night was very attentive and friendly.
We decided to have dessert: I chose a ricotta cheesecake.
It had a nice, sweet, crumbly texture and was on the cold side. Lisa had the chocolate cake.
This cake was very good, with a rich and smooth chocolate flavor and dollops of fresh cream.
As we left that night, all the staff were friendly and said good bye to us.
Overall, I liked the friendly atmosphere of La Gioconda. From the time we entered the restaurant to the time we left we always felt like we were being attended to. The food wasn’t necessarily the best Italian I’ve ever had, but it was definitely solid Southern Italian style cuisine, and portions were generous. I also like the fact that the restaurant is family owned and operated, something you don’t see much of anymore. They’re definitely worth a try.
Great Neck, NY 11021
Tue-Thu 12:00pm – 9:30pm
Fri 12:00pm – 10:30pm
Sat 4:00pm – 10:30pm
Sun 4:00pm – 9:30pm
Price Range: $$$ (around $16-$30 for an entree)
Takes Reservations: Yes