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La Motta's Waterside Restaurant's distinctive red and white umbrella has a long history, dating back to the 1964-5 World's Fair.

La Motta's Waterside Restaurant, a favorite with Port Washington residents for over a decade, provides delicious food in a lovely setting. Located at the Manhasset Bay Marina on Manhasset Isle, the restaurant furnishes spectacular views of Manhasset Bay. Our dining party agreed that the view at sunset rivals that of any vacation spot. Laura, our gracious server, told us that after a storm last week, the diners were treated to not one, but three rainbows. One of the diners described it as "a little bit of paradise."

Under the capable management of Nadine Delmonte and the creativity of Executive Chef Brian Arbesfeld, the eatery is continually adding new selections and enhancing familiar ones. The difficult process of choosing from the wide variety of dishes was made while sipping some of the flavorful martinis that La Motta's offers. We sampled the popular sour green apple martini, and the peach belini, and the citrus French, the latter made with Absolut citron, raspberry liqueur, and a splash of pineapple juice.

La Motta's Waterside Restaurant manager Nadine Delmonte, daughter of owner Guy La Motta.

The eggplant napoleon appetizer-a new addition to the menu-is very special. Eggplant is layered with goat cheese, which gives it a unique, smooth flavor, as well as mozzarella, tomatoes, roasted red pepper. It is served with a delicious sauce that has a hint of sweet and sour. Another recently added appetizer is the lobster quesadilla. The quesadilla contains generous chunks of lobster meat, and comes with sour cream and salsa on the side. (Note: Either of these items could serve as a main dish for a light meal, perhaps with soup or a salad.) The fried calamari melted in one's mouth. Light and tasty, with a cornmeal crust, it was served with the traditional red sauce and an aioli made of roasted red peppers. We also recommend the shrimp with macadamia coating with pineapple-mango chutney, the latter served in a blue corn taco-like shell. A specialty of the house is tuna-choose either sesame-scored tuna sashimi, with wakame (a kelp), soba, ginger and wasabi; or tuna tartare-sashimi tuna served with a zesty ginger soy and wakame salsa. Of course, this waterfront restaurant also offers the traditional littlenecks, malpeques, and baked clams, as well as a jumbo shrimp or imperial crab cocktail. Also recommended are the mussels in white wine and garlic sauce. Indicative of the restaurant's high-quality standards, Delmonte said that steamers have been dropped from the regular menu because the quality of the deliveries could not be counted on regularly. She said, "We now offer them [the steamers] as a special item when the delivery is up to our standards. Otherwise, we refuse them."

One of the specials was a seafood bourride--a fish stew similar to bouillabaisse consisting of shrimp, codfish and lobster tail in a Sambuca-laced seafood-vegetable broth, redolent with garlic and other spices. Another special was a one-pound lobster fra diavolo, and, of course the traditional lobster bake was also available, as was fresh grilled tuna or salmon and a broiled codfish (the codfish was recently added).

Although, as one would expect, fish and seafood are the restaurant's specialties, beef and chicken are also available. The night that we dined there, La Motta's was offering a 24-ounce porterhouse steak. Another recent menu addition is St. Louis/Memphis-style baby back ribs with a dry, smoky flavor. The ribs are accompanied by light french-fried potatoes and a delicious portion of coleslaw.

Among La Motta's specialties is a selection of pasta bowls. We sampled the penne rigatoni, which is prepared with large shrimp, sun dried tomatoes; small, succulent black olives; and spinach. Guy's pasta, the owner's namesake dish, is rigatoni with finely crumbled sweet Italian sausage, diced broccoli rabe, fresh mozzarella, and comes with a tomato basil sauce. In both cases the pasta was perfectly cooked and the sauces nicely spiced.

Be sure to leave room for La Motta's home-baked desserts. We sampled a caramel cheesecake and a peanut butter chocolate mousse cake. Both were outstanding, and beautifully presented.

The restaurant's menu also includes a variety of soups, salads, and personal-sized (12") pizzas. The wine list contains a variety of whites, reds and sparkling wines, including more than a dozen available by the glass. Bottle prices for the most part range from around $22 to about $30; most glasses are priced at about $6.50.

On Monday evenings from 5 to 8, La Motta's hosts an all-you-can eat classic lobster bake. In addition to the lobster, the buffet dinner includes soup, a variety of seafood, chicken, summer salads, corn on the cob, fries, and many other items, including a variety of desserts. Priced at $39.95, the dinner features live jazz.

The delightful outdoor terrace is always open for drinks and light food. On Friday and Saturday evenings the patio bar is open from 2-11 p.m., with live music on Friday evenings.

The restaurant is open seven nights a week for dinner from 4:00. Sunday through Wednesday they are open until 9, Thursday until 9:30, and Friday and Saturday until 10. Lunch is served from 11:30 to 4 Monday through Saturday, and a brunch buffet is served on Sunday from 11:30 until 4:30. The restaurant is seasonal, usually opening each year the first week in April and closing at the end of October.

Dinner entrée prices range mostly between $20 and $30 ($40 for the lobster bake). The sunset dinner, with appetizer, entrée, and dessert, is served Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m., and is priced at $18.95. Lunch entrees are between $10 and $15, with sandwiches between $8 and $12, and 12" pizza at $10. Reservations are recommended (required for the Monday night lobster bake); call 944-7900.

La Motta's is also available for on-site catering for wedding rehearsal dinners, showers, birthdays, and other occasions.

La Motta's has come a long way from its beginnings as a waterside snack bar. (See the sidebar for a bit of its history.) Manager Nadine Delmonte said of the restaurant's evolution over the years, "I'm loving it."


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