Written by Salvatore DiBenedetto [@TheGrubfather]
Ideally located alongside Manhasset’s Miracle Mile, Cafe Continental’s dining room is dimly lit with an old world class complimented by a smiling staff and buzzing bar. When I entered, tables to the left and right were filled with patrons ranging from young professionals to families. As someone who is keen to listen in on other tables, especially when writing about a spot, I found conversations filled with satisfaction and positivity.
A certain good sign. Now it was time to fully dive in.
There’s something special about a place that takes pride in their bread program – especially when it’s complimentary. Cafe Continental’s spread of stuffed bread, olives, cheese and peppers set a high standard for the ensuing meal. But what’s a good Italian feast without wine? Our waiter’s suggestion of a 2014 Cantina Zaccagnini (Montepulciano d’abruzzo) carried the quality of the experience through with jammy notes and a full body perfect to accompany a good meal.
Northern Italian cuisine is the star of Cafe Continental – It’s been that way since the Mariotti family took over the joint in 1986 (it had been open since 1964). Today Michael Mariotti is at the helm of the family joint and brings a signature Italian charm that seamlessly transforms his restaurant’s dining room into a family affair.
We kicked the meal off with some of the house favorites like stuffed artichoke, burrata and paglia e fieno, a homemade green & white spaghetti featuring pancetta, peas and their signature brown sauce. As an Italian, I could gladly give Cafe Continental a stamp of approval on each of the dishes. It was the paglia e fieno though that left an incredible mark on my experience.
Those who venture further into the entrees should take note that Cafe Continental’s osso bucco is no joke. I was really impressed with the small fork in my bone that allowed me to scrape out succulent marrow. Don’t miss out on combining the tender meat with bone butter. To even the most skirmish of diners: You won’t regret it.
Throughout the meal, nearly every waitstaff (including owner Michael) made mention of one thing: The Tiramisu. It was a known fact not to miss it. Julia, the Mariotti matriarch herself, was behind the recipe and it was sold on a first come first serve basis. Luckily, we snagged the last one. Long story short – The tales are true, don’t miss the Mariotti tiramisu.
Cafe Continental proved to be a great restaurant experience. It was a step up from traditional Italian-American dining but still managed to make me feel right at home. A great choice to throw on your Italian hit-list.
A: 1538 Northern Blvd, Manhasset, NY 11030