You have either eaten at Bacaro Italian Tavern in Massapequa Park, know someone who has or need to move it up on your list of must-places to try. The food, service and atmosphere are all in alignment and have made it one of the most notable, bustling Italian restaurants on the island.
The owners, Joseph Bonacore and Thomas Soluri, have said it best in their own description of this classic but contemporary establishment, “In Venice, the custom called ‘andar a cicheti,’ or stopping by the bacaro for a drink and some bites of a delicious appetizer, is considered essential to life and well-being.” Bacaro Italian Tavern is exactly that–inviting, lively and warm. Everyone is having a great time while sharing a meal or a spirit and enjoying some satisfyingly good food and conversation. When you walk in, you know you are in the right place.
One of the most enjoyable wines on the list at Bacaro is Bourdette Blend 2019, a Bordeaux-style blend, by local Amityville Cellars winery founded in 2019 by Advanced Sommelier Andrew Isaacson. This medium-bodied, dry red wine tastes of plummy black fruit and is subtly spicy with oaky notes ($13/glass or $48/bottle).
Specialty cocktails like the cucumber vodka-based Park Express, the Moscow Mule or the expansive martini menu and classic spirits like a gin and tonic are also all great apéritif
Save room for a coffee cocktail, a Rainbow Cookie cocktail (Amaretto, Frangelico and Chambord on the rocks) or a classic Sambuca digestif to cap off your dining experience at Bacaro.
The cicchetti, or tapas plates, are what Bacaro is known for, especially in bacaros in Venice. If you cannot decide on an entree, order several cicchettis to make an awesome round-up sampling of all things Bacaro. Some of the most popular appetizer dishes are the Thai-Italian Calamari (crispy calamari tossed with a sweet chili glaze, peanuts and sesame seeds, $18), the Lobster-baked Clams (five lobster-filled clam shells with pinot grigio sauce, $16) and the Cauliflower Pizza (a cauliflower crusted pizza topped with fig jam, pancetta, gorgonzola, mozzarella, baby arugula and truffle oil $17). The presentation of every plate is on point and is important to enjoying the meal.
The signature Bacaro Salad is a totally refreshing treat, made with chopped iceberg, salami, artichokes, olives, tomatoes, cucumber, grana padano (similar to Parmigiano Reggiano), roasted red peppers and pignoli nuts ($15).
Is it gravy or is it sauce? Debate that, but there is no doubt about how good the Sunday Gravy is here. Enjoy a generous, hearty portion of Fusilli pasta topped with short rib meatballs, sweet sausage and a dollop of ricotta over filetto di pomodoro, a savory tomato sauce ($28). The shaved short rib makes for a finer texture meatball; the sweet sausage has a tiny kick of heat to it, but still on the mild side. No Italian menu would be complete without Sunday Gravy; Bacaro does not come up short here.
There are plenty of enticing choices on the nightly specials menu. You will have plenty to choose from between both menu sets, all equally delicious and sometimes a challenge to settle on one choice. Some of the favorite main dishes are the Pork Osso Bucco, a roasted pork shank over butternut squash risotto ($29), the Veal Chop Milanese topped with arugula greens, tomato, fresh mozzarella and avocado ($39) and the Pistachio Crusted Cod is light, flaky with asparagus over avocado risotto. Honestly, it is so fresh and delicious, you almost forget that it is fish ($34).
If you had a tough time deciding on a meal, expect another test once you get the dessert menu. It is nearly impossible to have one favorite here. Try the Salted Caramel Cheesecake, a salty, sweet, creamy treat all melded into one ($10.95) or the classic, Toasted Almond Tiramisu ($10.95). In the mood for something ridiculously delectable to sooth your sweet tooth? Try the 5-layer chocolate cake or the Peanut Butter Chocolate Explosion, both dense, chocolatey and a generous serving ($10.95).
The kitchen and waitstaff at Bacaro have great service chemistry, seemingly fluid. All of the staff are social and personable. The waiters are knowledgeable about the menu, specials, ingredients and cocktail pairings. The owners, Bonacore and Soluri are no strangers to the hospitality business having previously owned the successful Caraways in Massapequa back in the 1980s.
You will see one of both owners in the dining room, greeting guests and ensuring seamless service. You will feel like Soluri has set the table and Bonacore has cooked a meal from his own home, all especially just for you.
Bacaro is closed on Monday. Open Tuesday through Friday from 2 to 10 p.m.; Saturday from 4:30 to 10 p.m. and on Sunday from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Closing times are for the kitchen; the bar remains open a little later.
Enjoy happy hour Tuesday through Friday from 3 to 6:30 p.m., including appetizers and drink specials. Ladies night is every Wednesday night and includes price-fixed, three-course meals, drink specials and $20 select bottles of wine. Also, check out their events calendar on the website for live music, offered nearly every night by local talent.
Bacaro Italian Tavern is located at 1020 Park Blvd. in Massapequa Park. Dine-in and takeout services are available. Reservations are highly recommended, especially for the more popular Friday and Saturday dinner hours.
There is ample parking in the municipal parking field directly behind the restaurant, in addition to some on-street parking in front.
Visit www.bacarony.com or call 516-798-1555 for more information.