Secret Spot For Sunday Sauce

Fiamma Trattoria, Mamaroneck

People often mention Fiamma Trattoria’s unpretentious exterior by way of letting you in on a secret: It’s nice inside and not a basic red-sauce joint. A few blocks from the Mamaroneck Metro-North station, it’s on a corner where neighbors will tell you there used to be a dive.

We arrived early Sunday evening as they were hauling the sandwich board outside. Some people were there for the $20 “Sunday gravy”—salad, mozzarella and tomato, pasta with meatballs and sausage, and homemade cannoli—but others bonded over forgoing the divine lobster manicotti to try something new from Chef Dougie Tucci, who previously owned Fiorentina in the Bronx.

You feel the Bronx here more than the Mamaroneck. Could it be the dark red wall, chalkboard menu, and candles flickering well before sunset? No need to dress up, but, if you want romance, it’s there. Meanwhile, you can hear the kitchen staff belting along with ’50s tunes: “Cupid, draw back your bo-o-w!”

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Meals begin with salad and topping-on-the-side bruschetta—if the bread proves awkward for conveying the garlicky goodness to your mouth, eat it straight. From the big wall menu (which changes frequently based on the availability of ingredients), choose from seafood-centric appetizers (like grilled octopus with lemon butter and warm chickpea salad), pastas (most homemade that day), and entrées such as braised pork shank cacciatore and seared grouper marechiara. A smaller chalkboard quietly tells you that you can take some of the magic home (lobster stock, marinara, olive oil from Puglia) while boards on the opposite wall whisper in your ear about interesting wines.

I ordered spaghetti carbonara with seared scallops. The carbonara was a knockout, clinging to thin spaghetti and laced with high-quality pancetta. Extra-large scallops almost overwhelmed the dish until we cut and mixed them with the pasta, giving it a welcome extra dimension. Thin, delicate linguini sang with fresh, tender clams in the shell; calamari; and white clam sauce.

Desserts often shine. If they have poached pears with whipped cream (no promises), don’t hesitate. Did I mention the cannoli? Get one.

501 Halstead Ave, Mamaroneck (914) 341-1620

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