Cafe La Strada
is tucked away at the annoying convergence of Joshua's Path and Wheeler Road in Hauppauge, just below the entrance to the L.I.E. (could've sworn it was Central Islip). The only thing smaller than its dining room is its parking lot. But, if you're resourceful, you can squeeze into a space in the rear. Being able to leave after you're finished eating is another matter...
The place has gotten good word of mouth, locally, and Joanne Starkey recently gave it a "Very Good" review
in the NY Times. Some friends and I visited there on a Friday night, and the room was packed--but not overly cramped.
We skipped appetizers and only ordered entrees. I had the "hay and straw" pasta, which was served in a cream sauce, with prosciutto and mushrooms. The peas gave it a lovely sweet accompaniment. While the dish was good, it was very rich, really too rich for a portion that size.
On special that night was a whole sea bass. It's smaller than you'd think (about a foot long) and is filleted and served table-side by the proprietor, Hugo Bua. My friends advised the fish was quite tasty. I saw a lot of diced garlic on their plates, so I imagine it had a garlicky kick to it.
Another special was duck served with an au poivre sauce. I'm not a pepper fanatic, so it didn't appeal to me. But my friend, who had never had duck before, quite enjoyed it.
If I had been there with the wife, I would have sampled some appetizers and desserts and actually tried her food. But it was not to be. However, everyone thought their meals were good.
The entrees are moderately priced ($15 to $20 or so). But the specials were around $30, so be sure to ask about the price if you order them. Incidentally, my entree was $14.95, but they charged me $16.95.
I wouldn't mind going back there in the future and trying some more items.
3 out of 5 stars
352 Wheeler Road