Dating back to its opening in 1958 by original owner and namesake Jimmy Christiano, Christiano's Italian Restaurant has long been a fixture in the community. And thanks to Billy Joel's "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" in 1977, it was elevated to legendary status not only in Syosset, but around Long Island and beyond.
Located at 19 Ira Rd., tucked in the middle of a strip of stores, Christiano's is divided into two sections: the pizzeria and the adjoining area that includes the bar and the dining room. Renovated by its current owner Mike Elardo last August, the restaurant is in the classic Italian style.
Rich dark woods and deep colored fabrics are offset by well-placed lights creating an open, inviting atmosphere. Patrons line the large bar exchanging lively banter and watching flat-screen TVs tuned to various sporting events. (On this particular day, the choices were World Cup soccer and Wimbledon.)
A dividing wall that separates the bustling bar and dining area has alternating open areas and shelves lined with wine bottles, effectively dividing the spaces and providing privacy to diners. Comfortable booths and tables line either side of a long aisle in the dining room.
A variety of red and white wines can be purchased by the bottle ($19.95 to $32.95) or the glass ($5.50 to $6.50). A full range of alcoholic beverages is available from the bar.
The traditional Cheese Platter ($13.99) includes your choice of two cheeses (Brie, cheddar, goat cheese with cranberries, Monterey jack or provolone), grapes, roasted peanuts, olives, apples, sopressata and pepperoni with a choice of crackers.
The Baked Clams Oreganata appetizer ($9.95) has plump, whole clams with fresh garlic, lemon and breadcrumbs. The Antipasto ($9.95) consists of prosciutto, pepperoni, salami, provolone, sun-dried tomato, roasted pepper and anchovies.
Hero sandwich choices include all the standards: Meatball, Eggplant Parmigiana or Chicken Parmigiana ($6.50), Italian Sausage and Peppers ($7.75) and Veal Cutlet ($8.25). The Combo ($7.25) consists of salami, ham, provolone, peppers, onions, lettuce and tomato.
Among the entrée choices is the Baked Christiano's Special ($13.95), which consists of lasagna, ravioli, meatballs and manicotti, served in a casserole covered with melted mozzarella. The large meatballs were tender and subtly seasoned. The manicotti, ravioli and lasagna were all filled with a mild ricotta cheese. The Ziti and Eggplant Parmigiana ($11.95) features a generous portion of sliced, breaded eggplant layered with tomato sauce, topped with mozzarella and served with al dente ziti on the side.
The Tilapia Livornese ($16.95) is baked and served with fresh tomatoes, onions, capers and tomato sauce. Among the choices on the steak menu ($26.95 each) are Prime Aged NY Strip (16 oz.), Porterhouse (24 oz.), Rib Eye (22 oz.) and Filet Mignon (12 oz.). Or, you may choose the Surf & Turf (28.95) which combines an 8-oz. Filet Mignon and a 6-oz. Lobster Tail.
On the children's menu (all items: $6) the choices include Pasta with Butter, Pasta with Tomato Sauce (meatballs are $1 each), Macaroni and Cheese, Chicken Fingers with Fries, Sliders with Fries, and Soup and a Sandwich. All include a small drink or juice box.
Dessert Menu offerings include Cheesecake ($4.95), which was creamy and fresh. Coffee, cappuccino and espresso are also available.
Thursday is Pasta Special Night ($11.95), with your choice of Linguini with Chicken, Sausage and Chicken, Veal Strips, Baby Shrimp and Seafood Lasagna. All specials include a side salad and rice pudding.
Check out our business feature on Christiano's here.