East End Eats: Every Town Needs a Conca

Conca D’Oro’s Fred Flintstone-size portions are well prepared in a warm and cozy atmosphere. Morgan McGivern

       Conca D’Oro is the kind of pizza joint-restaurant that every town should be so lucky to have. It is fast, reasonable, and good. In a way, it is two establishments. Come into the front for a quick slice, takeout, or to enjoy your pie in a booth. Go to the back for sit-down service, a variety of specials, and pasta dishes big enough for Fred Flintstone to bring home in a doggy bag for Dino.

       On a recent evening we dined in the back room, spruced up with a Christmas tree, wreaths, and stockings. We ordered a lot of food, not because we needed a lot, but wanted to try a lot. It is guaranteed you can share all of the salads and entrees and still have leftovers.

       We began our meal with the gorgonzola salad and bruschetta. Since you already get salads and garlic knots with your meal, this was all we needed. The gorgonzola salad is a favorite here, a combination of iceberg and romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red onion slices, black olives, artichoke quarters, shredded carrots, and roasted red pepper strips. The gorgonzola cheese is scattered over the top in little bits and is not too strong or overwhelming. The dressing is a light, mild Italian. The bruschetta was very good, lots of fresh, diced tomatoes with garlic and basil piled onto crisped up hero rolls with gobs of melted mozzarella cheese. The house salads are also good, simply crisp lettuce, shredded carrots, quartered tomatoes, black olives, and red onion. The garlic knots are excellent, basically pizza dough molded into little knots and doused with garlicky olive oil and parsley.

        For our entrees we tried two specials — the fettucini Paglia Ofieno, bucatini with broccoli rabe — and two regular menu items — the eggplant Parmesan and penne with meatballs — and a side order of broccoli with garlic and oil. The fettucini was a combination of spinach and plain pasta in a pink cream sauce with mushrooms and ham. It was riiiiiich and tasty. The bucatini had a variety of ingredients, broccoli rabe, sun-dried tomatoes, sausage, zucchini, and garlic. My guest felt it needed some salt and cheese; I thought it was very good. The penne with meatballs was, like all the dishes, huge. The meatballs were mild and fluffy, the marinara sauce simple and delicious. The eggplant Parm was pretty good. It came with some margherita topping as requested (fresh chopped tomatoes and basil), and is served piping hot in the casserole dish it is baked in. As I am an eggplant Parm aficionado, I would give this one a B-. Not bad! The side order of broccoli was huge, the broccoli a tad overcooked but good nonetheless, studded with lots of fried garlic chips.

       One of the things I especially appreciate about Conca D’Oro is that every request is honored if the kitchen can manage it and has the ingredients to do so. Our waitress, Angelica, was sweet and attentive. Prices are $4 to $10 for soups, salads, and breads, $14 to $24 for pizzas, $14 to $23 for dinners and pastas, specials from $18 to $23, $5 to $9 for sides, and desserts $4 to $6.

       For desserts we tried the tiramisu, cannoli, and tartufo. The first two items are made in-house. I have come to the conclusion that all tiramisus taste the same; all I ask is that they taste freshly made. This one was good. The cannoli was excellent, a crisp cinnamon-y outer shell filled with fresh ricotta and studded with two neon pink glaceed cherries. The tartufo was also very good, a slight detour from the traditional chocolate shell filled with various ice creams, this one had chocolate and strawberry flavors.

       You can’t do a review of Conca D’Oro without talking about the pizza, as this is probably the main source of energy for every teenager in Sag Harbor. It is excellent, simple, moderately thin-crusted pizza with a good red sauce. I recommend the veggie, although most of those under the age of 20 have probably never even tried it.

       Another aspect of restaurant dining I pay particular attention to but seldom mention is cleanliness. As we were leaving Conca D’Oro, business was winding down and the front pizza prep area had been put to bed for the night. It was nice to see that everything was clean and neat and organized. This can tell you a lot about a restaurant, folks!

       As I said at the beginning, Conca D’Oro is the kind of place every town should have. It is reasonable, family-oriented, quick if you just want a slice, and warm and cozy if you want to stick around and have a big bowl of pasta.