A steaming squat cup of frothy cappuccino arrived with a petite Amaretto biscotti within five minutes of ordering. Dipped into the hot coffee, the biscotti became soft and cake-like and had beautiful pieces of fresh green crunchy pistachios. It was a perfect accoutrement to the cappuccino.
A lunch special for $7.95 was impossible to ignore. The price fetches diners a half of panini, a soup or salad, a lemonade or iced tea drink and a scoop of gelato. It just might be the best lunch deal in all of Garden City.
The Pizza Panini Contadina was hot out of the press and the fresh mozzarella was melted and melded with bright green baby arugula and pungent fresh basil leaves. The fresh basil lent a nice summer flavor and married well with the sweet tomato sauce. It came with slices of pepperoni with a choice of prosciutto, salami, sweet sopressata or grilled chicken breast. Ask them to skip the pepperoni and go straight prosciutto, the pepperoni flavor overpowers the other flavors, which shouldn't be missed.
The choice of soups include minestrone, chicken noodle, Italian wedding and a cold cucumber soup or gazpacho for the summer menu. Paninis run the gamut and can be had with turkey, roast beef, vegetables, barbecue chicken or chicken parmesan.
The salad choices were Italian Caesar, Greek Salad, Italian Tuna Salad, Italian Pasta Salad or an Italian Potato Salad.
The Greek Salad that came with the lunch special was ample and had nice slabs of milky white feta of excellent quality. There were fresh crisp cold cucumber slices, ripe sweet summer tomatoes and slivers of red onion. The vegetables were very fresh with a little drizzle of vinaigrette.
A straight up panini runs $6.49 and comes with a side of potato salad or coleslaw and a few potato chips. The coleslaw had a nice crunch and was sweetened with a little sugar as all good coleslaw should be. The Tomato Basil Panini had creamy fresh mozzarella oozing out of the warm crisp focaccia with perfectly ripe summer tomatoes and large sweet basil leaves. The three flavors, with their multiple textures, trumped the Pizza Panini.
Wraps are $6.49 and a small salad is $5.99 and a large is just a dollar more. You can create a chopped salad, which is served with warm garlic bread. The food station is in one corner of the café – as you walk into the eatery, the gelato display greets you to the right and to the left there are refrigerators where you can purchase whole cakes. The Raspberry Mouse is a big seller.
The gelato comes in dozens of flavors and is $2.95 for a generous scoop with an additional scoop costing 99 cents. Flavors include Tiramisu with a generous dusting of cinnamon and Cannoli with chunks of Cannoli shells. The Mango was fruity and a summer favorite.
Habib, however, says the number one overall seller is Dolci de Leche with its swirls of caramel and crunchy sweet praline pieces. Known as Italian ice cream, gelato has less air and instead of being made with heavy cream, it's made with milk, making it a lighter alternative to ice cream.
Habib takes enormous pride in his gelato and insisted Patch try many of the flavors. Don't be turned off by the strange, unappealing color of the pistachio gelato – it's absolutely brimming with fresh pistachio flavor.
There are sorbets, with lemon being the most popular. It was white but had an enormous bold tart lemon flavor and would be excellent to serve at a dinner party to cleanse the palate in between courses.
Italian cookies are $15.99 per pound. There are Napoleons, various petite mouse cakes and banana splits. The desserts are decadent – there are fabulous display cases of cupcakes, at $1.50 they come in about 50 cents cheaper than other gourmet cupcakes in the zip code. Red Velvet was very moist, with a beautiful maroon hue and the frosting not overly sweet. The Red Velvet cupcake is an absolute must. Dolci also sells a decadent Red Velvet cake.
Dolci does a modest breakfast menu too, with muffins, bagels and croissants for $1.99. There are pancakes, eggs and Corned Beef Hash. French toast is $3.25 and a side of bacon, sausage/ham or turkey is 99 cents.
The Habibs say breakfast business is very brisk. However, once Garden City residents and office workers find out about the lunch special they will be coming in droves. The food is fresh and flavorful, the gelato is the finest and the bakery choices are unparalleled.