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Eating to The Beat of Rock
Newsday. By Erica Marcus March 26, 2008
restaurant exhibit more contradictions than Northport's
Overlooking the curtained vestibule is a tattered poster of Jerry
Garcia. Inside, the fixed-price tasting menu hovers around
$100 a person. The narrow dining room barely accommodates 32
people, but on a busy night there will be up to nine servers
on the floor.
Behind the swinging kitchen doors, the contradictions sharpen. Most
chef's tasting menus are made up of tiny, artfully composed
plates of rarefied ingredients. Maroni's is a wedding-worthy
onslaught of generous servings, the majority of which --
lobster bisque, Thai spring rolls, Kobe beef sliders,
eggplant Parmesan, ice-cream sandwiches -- are guaranteed
And while most
of the kitchen crew (another seven people) is occupied with
executing the day's menu, there is always someone attending
to takeout orders of an entirely different order: trays of
penne alla vodka, linguine with clam sauce, and, most of
all, pots of Maroni's signature meatballs. These meatballs
got so famous that they goaded Bobby Flay into a Food
Network Throwdown in 2007. Flay lost.
In the kitchen, in the dining room, even blasting out onto the
sidewalk, is the persistent backbeat of rock and roll. The
Dead, Pink Floyd, late Beatles, early Chicago.
One of LI's best
All of these contradictions somehow add up to a restaurant that
regularly is counted among
Island's best. And all are embodied by its
chef, owner and presiding genius.
"I'm stricken with ADD," admitted Michael Maroni, with characteristic
Maroni has red sauce in his veins. He grew up in Locust Valley,
descended from the Italian immigrants who moved to
County and formed the backbone of the
local food establishment. The Maronis attended St. Rocco's
church in Glen Cove and, before Mass ended, Michael would
run across the parking lot to get a loaf of brick-oven bread
at the late St. Rocco's bakery. This would give him a head
start to reach the next stop on the Sunday shopping circuit,
the salumeria counter at Razzano's.
The only real cooking teacher he ever had was his
father, Fiorentino "Fred" Maroni, who ran a beer
distributorship in Glen Cove. The youngest of nine children,
Fiorentino was his mother Maria's designated kitchen helper,
and one of the many family recipes he passed on to his son
was the one for Maria's peerless meatballs. (Fred, now
retired, works at Maroni's, manning the slicing machine and
pulling espressos. Everyone -- servers, cooks, patrons --
calls him "Pop.")
At the age of 8, Maroni knew he wanted to cook for a
living. At 16, he was cooking at the Northstage Dinner
Theater in Glen Cove; the next year he took over the kitchen
at a neighboring pub, the Starting Gate.
would get home from school at four and headed right to the
kitchen," he recalled. "I'm not proud of this, but I never
took a book home from high school."
After a stint in the Navy, Maroni cooked all over Long
Island at, among other establishments, Old Gerlich's in Glen
Head, the Nassau County Bar Association in Mineola, the Ritz
in Northport, the Sea Cliff Yacht Club -- before opening
Mirepoix in Glen Head in 1997. With its French name, fine
linens and Mediterranean-inflected menu, Mirepoix soon came
to be regarded as one of Long Island's best restaurants.
Around the same time, Maroni started to kick around an
idea for a meatball business based on his grandmother
Maria's recipe. So he and his wife, Maria (they married in
1995), took over a pizzeria in Northport with the goal of
establishing a meatball-centric Italian takeout restaurant.
Maroni Cuisine opened in May 2001.
Initially, his venture was ignored by the community.
"People in Northport weren't ready to pay $10 a pound for
broccoli rabe, or $5.99 for a quart of soup -- even if they
were homemade with the best ingredients."
Gradually -- and somewhat counter-intuitively -- he began to shift
gears upward. He got rid of the pizza oven and stopped
paying attention to prices. He put a lobster roll on the
menu and charged $18. "People would say, 'I can get it
cheaper Out East,'" and he'd respond, "so, go Out East and
get it then. I don't know what else to tell you."
Meanwhile, Maroni had begun to tire of the whole
white-tablecloth dog-and-pony show. "You get greeted by a
snotty host," he observed, "then you sit there for 15
minutes without anything to drink or eat. A lot of
restaurants just aren't fun."
And the traditional restaurant menu was another
irritant. "I was so tired of having this thing that people
open and then choose an appetizer and an entree and a
dessert." He also was growing impatient with the myriad
adjustments that diners want the chef to make, "the old 'I
want the swordfish but can I have it prepared like the
Mirepoix closed in 2002, and Michael and Maria devoted
themselves exclusively to Maroni Cuisine. At the very bottom
of the increasingly eclectic menu, Maroni began to run this
line: "Chef's crazy tasting menu: ask." And, gradually, the
menu vanished, and all that was left was the crazy tasting
menu, and the Italian takeout business, which had finally
begun to take off.
The bicameral business suits the chef just fine. "If I
were just a high-end restaurant I'd be bored. I like to feed
everyone." His takeout clients, he estimates, are about 75
percent local, and most of the lunch-and-dinner crowd "comes
from far and wide, especially from Roslyn and Syosset."
On a given night, the chef sends out about 25 courses.
Roughly a third are permanent fixtures, such as chicken
Milanese, scallops scaloppine, barbecued ribs, the so-called
"million-dollar potato chips" which are topped with caviar.
Of course, there are the meatballs.
Recently he has been serving tuna tartare flanked by
"air chips" (flash-fried rice paper) and yellowtail and tuna
sashimi, sometimes completely raw, sometimes seared
"Japanese steak-house" style.
After months of pleading with a distributor who prefers
to deal only with Japanese clients, Maroni finally got his
hands on fresh wasabi root. The cost -- $50 for two
carrot-size specimens -- doesn't bother him in the least. "I
can't serve anything cheap," Maroni said.
Luckily, he's hit upon a business plan that allows him
to indulge both his taste for luxury and his need for
change. It's been seven years since Maroni Cuisine opened
its doors -- "This is the longest I've done anything,"
Maroni observed -- but in that time it has had three
distinct incarnations: takeout joint, fine-dining
establishment, culinary free-for-all.
Sometimes, he conceded, he'd be happy if he never saw
another chicken Milanese or baked clam, but the bottom line
is, "I've never walked in here and been bored. That's all I
can ask for."
Northport Chef Challenged
in Bobby Flay Throwdown
The Observer Oct. 2007
When it comes to
the best meatballs in the land, look no further than
Woodbine Avenue in Northport Village.
At least that is according to the Food Network.
Bobby Flay is one of the Food Network’s top chefs,
hosting a variety of culinary programs, including “Throwdown
with Bobby Flay.” When he decided recently to have a
meatball throwdown, Mr. Flay and the Food Network picked
Michael Maroni, of Maroni Cuisine in Northport to challenge
in a meatball cook-off—otherwise known as the throwdown.
“Throwdown With Bobby Flay, The Meatball Challenge,” a
competition between Mr. Flay and Mr. Maroni will air on the
Food Network Tuesday, October 23 at 9 p.m. and again
Wednesday, October 24 at midnight.
ON THE BALL: Celebrity chef Bobby
Flay (left) recently challenged Northport’s
Michael Maroni, of Maroni Cuisine on Woodbine
Avenue to a meatball throwdown, a television
challenge to air on the Food Network Tuesday,
October 23 at 9 p.m.
interview this week, Mr. Maroni and his restaurant partner
and wife Maria Maroni explained the process that led to the
show, and the thrill involved in being part of the throwdown.
Mrs. Maroni said that the Food Network contacted them
in May but said nothing about Bobby Flay, a throwdown or
meatballs. Instead, the Food Network producers told Mr. and
Mrs. Maroni that their restaurant was being considered for a
show called The Family Table.
“They asked us to send in an audition tape,” Mrs.
Maroni said. They prepared an eight-minute tape of Michael
making his acclaimed meatballs, and sent it in. The tape
included a little bit of background about Michael, a
self-taught chef, and about the restaurant and about
The tape was submitted in June, and in July the Food
Network informed the Maronis that the restaurant had been
selected for a featured on “The Family Table.” On a Sunday
in July a Food Network crew spent about 10 hours filming at
the restaurant and around Northport Village and on Monday
they spent a long day filming at the Maronis’ Northport
While Michael Maroni was in the backyard making his
famous meatballs, Bobby Flay suddenly appeared and
challenged him to the throwdown. Mr. Maroni was quick to
accept the challenge.
“Apparently, my jaw hit the floor,” said Mr. Maroni
about reaction to the arrival of Bobby Flay at his home. “I
was totally surprised. I had no clue he was going to show up
at my house, and I thought this was going to be a completely
“My biggest worry was that I would be like Ralph
Kramden—abada, abada, abada...” Mr. Maroni said. “But I’ve
been on television five or six times and I’ve been taped
before. All my stage fright went away quick and I was fine
with it. It was really a lot of fun.”
“He was the nicest guy,” said Mrs. Maroni about Bobby
Flay. “He was nice, humble and a really great guy.”
Mrs. Maroni declined to say who won the throwdown. “You
have to watch the show.”
ON THE SET: Michael Maroni’s
wife Maria (right) in the backyard of their
Nothport home with celebrity chef Bobby Flay
during the filming of the meatball throwdown.
“It was a
really surreal experience. We were in the second day
of filming, we thought we were doing something
completely different and all of a sudden this
celebrity chef comes walking into our backyard,”
Mrs. Maroni said. “My husband does not get thrown
all that easily, but this was amazing to him. It was
very, very exciting for us. It was an experience of
Mrs. Maroni said after the initial surprise, her
husband was composed, and never came across as
nervous or star struck. She said he interacted well
with Bobby Flay, and that she thinks the show will
be fun to watch.
Mr. Maroni said his meatballs are made from the recipe
from his father’s mother, who is also Maria Maroni,
a native of the town of Benevento in Naples, Italy.
“My grandmother made the best meatballs on the
planet,” Mr. Maroni said. He said she moved to
Oyster Bay in 1925, and the Maroni family has been
cooking its meatballs here ever since.
Mr. Maroni started cooking for a living when he was 16
years old at Old Gerlichs in Glen Head. He served a
stint in the Navy from 1977 to 1979, then returned
to the kitchen as a private chef for the Sea Cliff
Yacht Club, the Nassau County Bar Association and
several other places around Long Island. “I’m
completely self taught,” he said. Mr. and Mrs.
Maroni opened Maroni’s on Woodbine Avenue in
Northport in 2001.
“I think I did well,” said Mr. Maroni, who also
declined to reveal the outcome of the throwdown. “I
made the meatball I’m known for.”
The meatballs were judged by Richard Sholom of the New
York Times and by Julia Petrocelli-Vergari of
Raphael’s Vineyard. “I think it was really legit and
really fair,” Mr. Maroni said.
“He made a Bobby Flay ball,” Mr. Maroni said of his
opponents meatball. “He is a great chef. He picks
somebody who he knows to be among the best at
something, then he challenges them, but he still
makes it his way. He wasn’t trying to mimic my
meatball. He was trying to beat me with his own
Maroni’s Recognized For Televised Cook-Off
Huntington Press 11/16/07
Huntington, NY- Supervisor Frank Petrone and fellow Board
Members recently honored Maroni Cuisine (also known as
Maroni's) of Northport with a proclamation for their recent
televised victory in the Food Network's show "Throwdown-Meatball
Challenge" hosted by Bobby Flay. Maroni's stepped up to the
plate utilizing Grandma Maroni's 100-year old traditional
meatball recipe that rivaled the dish prepared by host Bobby
Flay and showcased to the world that 100 years of tradition
is something to be reckoned with.
Maroni's has been serving the community since 2000, which is
owned by head chef Mike Maroni and his wife Maria, who
accepted the proclamation on the family's behalf. What
really added some flavor to this presentation was the
red-pot of hot, spicy and saucy meatballs that was specially
prepared for this occasion by the head chef himself. Thanks
to Grandma's traditional meatballs, Maroni's recipe for
success will continue to roll along for the centuries to
Zagat Survey 2007/2008
F 28 D
14 S 23 C
Northport chef Michael
Maroni orchestrates "the most original dining experience on
LI" according to multitudes of mavens who find "magic in
every bite" of his "unusual, outstanding" Eclectic-Italian
tasting menu ("the way to go") that roams from exceptionally
"tender duck" to sashimi to "oh those meatballs!"; despite
the "thimble-sized" 20-seat space ("don't bring your
elbows"), most "love the vibe" and the "ultrafriendly
staff", and are happy to savor the "incredibly expensive"
"miracles on a plate" at least once.
Multiplied by 14
The New York Times. By Joanne Starkey
Feb 26, 2006
Does a 14-course tasting meal of exceptionally good food sound
like fun? We found that to be the case at Maroni Cuisine in
Maroni's is like no other
restaurant in Long Island. Some fancy French places and
upscale New American spots offer tasting meals, but they are a
different breed. Those at sophisticated restaurants usually
consist of five to seven courses and may
take three hours to complete. At Maroni's the
dishes arrives in a
short order, sometimes two at a time, and number 13 or 14. Still, a
meal may be over in one and a half hours.
When Maroni's opened in 2001, its small storefront held only
four tables. About 75 percent of the business was takeout.
Today the restaurant seats 24, and 75 percent of the action
takes place in the dining room.
Seating is tight, and it is very likely you will get to know
your neighbors. There is a lot of neck craning to see what
dishes other tables are receiving, knowing that something
similar will be coming your way very soon.
About 90 percent of diners choose the tasting meal over the
a la carte possibilities. The multicourse meal costs $80 at
lunch, $105.00 on weeknights and on weekends the 4:00 pm price
is $105.00 per person plus tax and gratuity and the 6:00
seating is $115.00 per person plus tax and gratuity. The
Late Seating is $125.00 per person plus tax and gratuity., It includes
unlimited wine and sambuca-spiked espresso. Taxes and tips are
The restaurants atmospheres is warm, casual and homey. Michael
Maroni is in the kitchen, his wife and father are behind the
counter and assorted friends and relatives are the waiters.
Mr. Maroni, in his chef's whites, makes frequent forays into
the dining room, urging diners to enjoy the food he ahs just
The mood was celebratory and fun. Mr. Maroni's favorites - the
Grateful Dead and the Beatles - were heard in the background.
meal at Maroni's takes a commitment. Diners must call the day
of the reservation to confirm it. They must also make a trip
to the bank or remember their checkbook because no credit
cards are accepted. The 10 percent who prefer to order a la
carte are left in the dark until they receive their check.
There was no written menu, and waitresses were vague about the
prices, saying the accounting was done in the kitchen.
Our bill was only a final total; nothing was itemized. It
looked about right, but who could tell?
Despite these annoyances, dinner was something to savor,
especially the tasting meal. It began with a sampling of
Maronis famous meatballs and tomato sauce, based on the 100
year recipes of Mr. Maroni's grandmother.
Dishes change nightly but many include oysters on the half
shell, crispy scallion potato pancakes topped with sour cream
and caviar, velvety tuna and salmon sashimi in an Asian ginger
soy sauce, scallop scaloppine in a tangy white wine caper
sauce, chicken Milanese crowned with an arugula tomato salad,
a demitasse cup of spinach eggdrop soup spiked with sambuca,
crab-shrimp cakes with roasted asparagus over a carrot ginger
sauce, or shrimp tempura with spicy atoli paired with a lush
crab mousse anointed with apricot sauce.
Diners may also find mini Kobe beef cheeseburgers cooked to
juicy medium rare perfection and seductive Memphis style
barbecued ribs which fell from the bones.
Many of the same dishes can be ordered a la carte. The
miniburgers go for $10 a la carte; two would make a fine
supper. Those memorable ribs are $25 for an entree size
portion of six. The night we went the a la carte route we also
sampled a top of the line duck with very crisp skin and moist
meat and two memorable salads - a chopped beauty with
Gorgonzola and a perfect classic Caesar. They were small but
The night we ordered a la carte we found the desserts skimpy;
a very tiny ramekin of chocolate mousse crowned with toasted
marshmallow, a miniscule Chipwich of vanilla ice cream
sandwiched between chocolate chip cookies and what the
waitress called a homemade Dove bar. It was about the quarter
of the size of the commercial variety and had been rolled in
chocolate cookie crumbs before being robed in chocolate.
When we has the tasting meal, the small dessert sizes made
sense. All we could manage were a few bites, but all made
sweet finales. The crème brulee was thick and satiny, and the
mini cannolis were especially crunchy and tasty.
meal at Maroni's is a memorable experience and one I hope to
Sunday dinner at grandmas, with dish after dish of
Service: Warm, nice and
Sound Level: Can be loud because of the
small space and tight quarters.
Recommended Dishes: Go for the 14 course
tasting meal. A la carte standouts include chopped
salad, Caesar salad, roast duck. Kobe mini
cheeseburgers, barbecued ribs, scallop scaloppine, chicken
Milanese and Italian meatballs on the tasting meal may
also be offered a la carte and are recommended.
Wine List: Wine is included in the price
of the tasting meal. The oral list includes about 20 wines
($30 to $70)
Price Range: Lunch entrees, $16 to $20,
$50 tasting meal. At dinner, appetizers, $8 to $18;
entrees, $20 to $30. Tasting meal, $75 weeknights,
Credit Cards: None
accepted. Cash or personal check only.
Hours: 12:30 to 10
pm. Tuesday to Thursday, to midnight Friday and
Saturday. Closed on Sunday and Monday.
must every night. Call one to four weeks ahead for a
One step at entrance. Restroom is accessible.
Very tight quarters.
Reviewed by The Times;
Feb 26, 2006
Excellent, Very Good, Good, Satisfactory, Fair, Poor.
Ratings reflect the reviewers reaction to food, ambience
and service, with price taken into consideration.
Menu listings and prices are subject to change.
18 Woodbine Ave Northport
Assessment: Food with
Open: Continuous service, Tuesday to
Thursday, 1-9 pm. Friday and Saturday,
12:30-10 pm. Closed Sunday and
Range: Main courses $15-$20; appetizers
$7-$10. Tasting menus, about $40-$50 a person.
Notable Dishes: Kobe cheeseburger; tuna tartare;
lamb chops with mint and chiles.
Credit Cards: None. Cash and checks accepted.
Wheelchair Access: Very tight dining area.
Step at entrance.
Directions: Just South of Main Street
A Real Neighborhood Favorite
Few Long Island
restaurants are recommended with the fervor that devotees cite Maroni Cuisine, or as it's usually called, Maroni's.
The 25 seat, storefront spot, ready for takeout as much
as sit-down, has immediate appeal both as a neighborhood
mainstay and now as a highly personal, destination restaurant.
The food often is imaginative, sometimes excellent. And
Michael and Maria Maroni are engaging hosts.
Whether you are seduced by the entire package, however,
is another matter. While the fare sometimes reaches
three stars, the overall experience doesn't. Maroni's is an
exceedingly tight space - post-cozy, beyond smug, making the
most of the address. Seating for two or three is
different from communal dining only be degree or inch.
Five or six customers may form a "U" around tables on either
side of the entrance, which is modestly curtained as if to
create the effect of a bay-window arrangement.
Those curtains are waved aside when a waiter or chef Michael Maroni delivers a dish. Be prepared for an appearance at
any time. Surprise and serendipity are among the
The meal often can move along at a very brisk pace, and
lingering isn't likely. There always seems to be someone
ready to take your chair at this popular, idiosyncratic
No formal menu exist, only a general listing on a
greatest-hits board. You will be advised about specials,
and encouraged to try a tasting menu. That is very good
One night, you may nibble on first-rate sashimi,
perhaps yellowtail or salmon. Slivers of shark's
fin bring in a more exotic, slightly crunchy source of protein
and over shadow their partner, well-made shrimp tempura.
Succulent stone crab claws instantly transport you to
Florida through the end of their season. Fried Ipswich
clams are crisp and sweet; baked clams oreganata, tender and
right. Tuna tartare arrives with a velvety texture and
fine flavor. Whole prawns with cocktail sauce elevate
the usual opener.
More entertaining, however, are Maroni's clever
mini-sandwiches. Maybe it will be a Kobe beef
cheeseburger, a mouthful of luxury and good humor that's a
little larger than a square inch, wittily sent out with Tater
The compact pastrami-on-rye will spur calls for
seconds, or prompt a drive to Second Avenue. A
warm-weather treat that the converted understandably have
demanded through the winter: the addictive lobster BLT.
Maroni's tends to push the house's "chop chop" salad, a
satisfactory combo of greens, carrots, tomatoes and
Gorgonzola. And "Grandma Maroni's famous meatballs and
spaghetti" have their modest, homey place. Likewise, the
linguine with white clam sauce.
But you're here for the gutsier short-rib ravioli.
Or perhaps the Maroni rendition of "beggar's purses."
These aren't the caviar-and-creme fraiche-filled crepes
immortalized at The Quilted Giraffe a generation ago.
But the crisp packages stuffed with shrimp paste and water
chestnuts do have flair.
The kitchen prepares a meaty duck with dried
orange-Grand Marnier syrup. Once, it was a trifle
overcooked; another time, ideal. Lamb chops are rosier,
and finished with a spirited chile-mint sauce.
All these gymnastics leave you ready for a finale such
as the rice pudding with tamarind sauce. Baked Alaska
here suggests the familiar riff on tartufo, with a layer of
meringue. Tiramisu almost appears a nod to nostalgia at
The Maroni's used to run a restaurant in Glen Head
called Mirepoix that was a more serene, restrained, refined
affair, and very good. But by comparison, meals at
Maroni's in Northport practically give off sparks.
Reservations are coveted. Regulars abound. After a
visit or two, you will be tempted to join the chorus.
Newsday July 27th, 2001
Why: Big flavors in small quarters
When: Same menu all day, Monday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m.
to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday,
11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
How Much: Menu not divided into appetizers and entrees;
items around $6 to $20; no desserts
Wheelchair Access: Steps at entryway
wearing a bright red chef's head wrap imprinted with chile
peppers, emerges from behind the stove of his little
takeout/eat-in cafe in Northport to chat with customers.
A down to earth guy, Maroni also owns Mirepoix in Glen Cove,
which is ranked as one of Long Island's fine dining
establishments. At the Northport place over which he and
his wife Maria preside, folks can order such
|unpretentious fare as Grandma Maroni's meatballs,
made from a 100 year old family recipe. They're great
and garlicky, cloaked in a vibrant red sauce and served in a
white enamel pot. For a few extra dollars, you get to
keep the pot.
But there are also some upscale touches. One day,
we saw a lobster "martini" on the blackboard menu for $19.
There was also a thin-crust margherita pizza for $6.50.
The place has but three tables and order-at-the-counter
service. Live with it; the rewards are ample.
We started with that lobster martini, made with lots of
snowy lobster meat tossed with pieces of watermelon and fresh
herbs. A shrimp martini, also served in a martini glass,
features hot shrimp in a rich garlic butter. On another
visit, we had a sushi and sashimi plate featuring toro (fatty
tuna) and salmon, which were pristinely fresh, artfully cut.
Sesame seaweed salad was another Asian treat.
Do order the lobster roll, a dandy6 made with large
pieces of lobster and just enough mayonnaise. If you
buys yours to go, it is $8.50; in the restaurant, served with
either a salad or Maroni's marvelous Old Bay housemade potato
chips, it is $11.50. Either way, it is the best of the
genre within 50 miles.
Mussels, lots of them, come in one of those white
enamel pots; we ordered ours aglio olio, in an ambrosial
bath of garlic and olive oil. A pizza was delightfully
crisp, oozing fresh mozzarella, topped with bright tomatoes
and fresh basil. The basil, used liberally as a garnish,
appears again atop the shrimp fra diavalo over linguini, lots
of shrimp in a brightly incendiary sauce. On another
a special of "drill" pasta (gemelli) with crushed black
truffle sauce was hearty and fragrant, crowned with shaved
pieces of Parmesan cheese.
Seared iron-skillet, free-range chicken breast, which we asked
to have made to order (it is also available from the takeout
showcase) was juicy and delicious. And you must order a
batch of "knobby fries." They are hand cut French fries
dipped into a tempura batter and fried to a golden brown, the
batter hanging off in irregularly shaped "knobs."
Although Maroni doesn't offer dessert, we purchased
some of the housemade chocolate chunk cookies on display in a
glass cookie jar. Enjoy then on a park bench across the
As you gaze out at the harbor, think about how
fortunate Northport is to have an eatery such
An Italy by the Sea in Northport
At last a lobster roll ( and a darn good one)
comes to the waterfront village of Northport with the opening of Maroni
Cuisine, a little take out and eat-in cafe at 18 Woodbine Ave,
631-757-4500. Sitting at one end of the three tiny tables, I was
wowed by the house specialty, "Grandma Maroni's Meatballs", made from a
100 year old recipe (meatballs may be purchased for takeout in a
returnable white enamel pot, which, for a few extra dollars, you get to
keep). Executive chef-owner Michael Maroni, who also owns Mirepoix
in Glen Head, is assisted by chef de cuisine Matt Wagner; both chefs split
their time between the two restaurants. Maroni's wife, Maria, is in
charge of the front of the cafe. The Maronis are Northport
Zagat Survey 2003 F 24
D 14 S 20
Michael Maroni, the "charismatic" owner of the
highly rated Mirepoix in Glen Head, is preparing "phenomenal, creative"
Italian-Eclectic cuisine both for takeout or to eat in at this
"teeny-tiny" (20 seats) but "romantic" Northport storefront; insiders
jones for the "great spaghetti with meatballs", but if you leave the
selections up to the chef, he'll "keep you surprised", and the "unmatched"
staff offers "service with a smile"; N.B. an expansion is planned.
Where Sophistication and Basics Meet
The NY Times August 5, 2001
Maroni is the tiniest eating place ever reviewed in the
A La Carte column. It has just three tables and six chairs.
Yet the food at this sophisticated storefront at 18 Woodbine Ave in
Northport (631-757-4500), which depends more on its brisk takeout business
than sit down customers, often displays flair and imagination.
No doubt its sense of style stems from the Maroni
family, local residents who also own the upscale Mirepoic, a highly
regarded contemporary American restaurant in Glen Head. Two of
Maroni's three table have red roses at their centers and cloth covers and
napery. The cushioned cafe chairs are festooned with festive white
ribbon bows. Bottles of quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar line
the counters, and there is a basket of great looking breads of various
shapes, sizes and textures in the rear.
More importantly, the food in those counters, for both
takeout and eat in purposes, is not the usual tired breaded cutlets and
dried out potato salad, but seaweed salad, arugula, shaved ricotta salatta,
roasted pepper and chopped salad with dried fruit, mixed nuts and balsamic
vinegar. Even more surprising are the blackboard specials: martini
glasses of fresh cracked conch with garlic oil basil (414), octopus with
sweet carrots and roasted sesame seeds ($11) and sautéed lobster with
sweet lobster nectar ($15.50), as well as string bean mushroom salad ($9)
and a pot of paella ($19), Spanish rice laced with chicken, sausage,
mussels, langostinos, string beans and spinach. Yet the regular
menu's headliners are meatballs and mussels with or without pasta.
Sleek suburban couples in convertibles pull up to Maroni and tend to order those blackboard selections while sun-tanned
types in blue jeans off boats nearby Northport Harbor often opt for
pizzas, pasta salad, sandwiches, French fries, chicken and those mussels
Disparities in prices and portion sizes (the menu and
blackboard make no distinction between appetizers and entrees0 are
significant. The rustic choices are a buy, the refined ones aren't.
The martini glasses, accompanied by a clump of greens and goat cheese,
contained small quantities of delectable delicacies at double digit
prices. The large chunks of warm sautéed lobster in a subtle, briny
broth and tender strands of cooling octopus in a creamy mayonnaise studded
with carrots and sesame seeds were especially flavorful.
On the other side of the value valley was the pizza, a
crisp, paper thin pie that yielded eight pieces for $6 ($7 with toppings
like grilled chicken and broccoli), a lobster roll ($8.50) that was light
on mayo and long on lobster and taste, a generous serving of lightly
salted, curvy, crusty French fries (2.50) and those meatballs and mussels.
The last are sold in pots intended for from 2 to 3 people ($15 or $17 with
pasta) to 9 to 12 eaters ($55 with or without pasta). I ordered them as a
single portion at $10, 17 pristine medium sized mussels and a big heap of
pasta in a fiery though not very tasty fra diavalo sauce and five finely
ground jumbo, vibrantly seasoned meatballs around a pile of spaghetti
covered with a standard pomodoro sauce ($8.50)
Salads and chicken sold by the pound are good bets.
A quarter pound of the refreshing seaweed salad ($4.25); the thin,
delicate, vegetable and cheese infused pasta salad ($2) or the crunchy
green bean and mushroom mix ($2) are recommended accompaniments.
Seared boneless chicken cutlets, topped with fresh
basil and seasonings that provide plenty of punch, were an excellent
choice at $7 a pound or as part of a hero sandwich ($6).
No desserts or breads are served but complimentary wine
is. There is waitress service, though patrons are encouraged to
select their own drinks from the cooler. Flowering plants line the
tiny entrance and Italian music floats through the air, under a high tin
ceiling. Diners who want to splurge can, but few do. Both
unreconstructed lovers of basic, earthy vittles and more dainty souls will
find satisfaction here.
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