Flora’s Pizza Cafe has been quietly wowing the pizza, pasta and authentic Italian-loving hungry masses in Syosset for a little over nine months.
In that space of time Flora’s has gone from strength to strength.
Step in and you’ll think you’ve been transported to a candle-lit wine bar and trattoria off a cobblestoned lane in Umbria instead of a strip mall off Seaford-Oyster Bay and behind a 7-Eleven. Don’t let the location dissuade you; this is a hidden gem that deserves to be explored and savored.
What’s it all about?
PSA: this is not just a pizza joint. What Flora’s is really about is superb cooking across the entire menu.
Sure you can grab outstanding pies here that will leave you swooning (pepperoni with house infused spicy honey; pistachio mortadella, pistachio pesto and crushed burrata; or the fragrant Flora’s pizza with truffle paste, fior de latte, sundried tomato and parmigiano.) But you’d be remiss not to dive headfirst into Flora’s extensive menu.
Start with a negroni and the super crispy carciofi; the jalapeno mayo is addictive. Does better bar food exist?
The melanzane is likely the best we have tried; six layers of beautifully silky and smoky eggplant in a concentrated extra virgin olive oil infused tomato sauce. It’s baked low and slow in a steam oven and then finished with 24-month aged imported Parmigiano Reggiano.
The astas are exceptional and conceptually interesting, while conscientiously honoring tradition. The bucatini al limone relies on citrus to enliven pecorino and fresh baby clams. Tagliatelle al Cacao (yes made with raw cocoa powder) is magnificently cooked and the accompanying rich veal ragu sealed the deal for us. It’s one of those dishes that really makes you think and experience every bite.
From Italy to NYC to Long Island
Ervis Xhelaj and his wife Gabriella met on the Lower East Side and bonded over a love of all things Italian and cooking. Ervis grew up in Perugia, while Gabriella’s family is from Palermo Sicily. Make no mistake, these two know their food.
After Ervis spent seven years working for the Felice group throughout NYC and, in 2022, opened the company’s first location on Long Island, in Roslyn, the pair decided it was their time.
“I had been in food and hospitality for more than 15 years,” Ervis said. “I was a chef in Italy and when I moved to the states I began again, this time in the front of the house, making my way from busboy to bartender to general manager.
“Gabriella and I, this was our dream. I came to this country and spoke no English, but we both worked so hard. We built Flora’s with our own hands and we are so proud to be here in Syosset.”
And the couple’s passion shines through every aspect of this restaurant.
Come on in and stay a while
A meal at Flora’s begs to be lingered over.
Take your time and choose from a highly curated and lovely selection of mostly Italian reds and whites. Better yet, start with a cocktail or aperitivo while you enjoy the house-made, 48-hour risen focaccia or an appetizer while you choose your mains.
There’s something for every taste and mood, and the more you visit, the harder it will be to decide on your favorites, because everything really is that good. If you’re able to miraculously save room for dessert, the tartufo is cocoa dusted and vanilla zabiaone-filled and topped with caramelized hazelnuts to make it really special. The affogatto is classic, and perfectly made.
And know this: it’s easy to fall in love with Flora’s.
This romantic and unassuming little spot has so much to discover and it’s the kind of place you’ll be drawn back to again and again. Spettacolare, indeed.
Photos: Flora’s Pizza Café on Facebook
Flora’s Pizza Cafe
637 Jericho Turnpike Syosset