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Victoria’s Secrets: A staycation weekend, discovering new places to dine

Being a Pisces, I love being near the water and on sunny Saturday I ventured to Freeport’s “Nautical Mile” to dine overlooking the canal and then, that evening, to enjoy dinner and dancing  at a great Italian restaurant. Super Bowl weekend for me was super in a different way.

One of my favorite cities in the world is the charming historic city of Taormina nestled on the coast of Sicily. I felt transported back there this weekend as I was introduced to Carmela’s in Franklin square long Island, a restaurant owned by a couple who met in Sicily and emigrated to America  and recreated  their hometown charm.

Anthony and Carmela met at a dance in their town just south of Palermo and fell in love instantly – love at first sight! When I met them Saturday night, 50 years after they met, it looked to me that they still have the same passion for each other.

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My friends Marty and Rhona had found Carmela’s and fell in love with it because of the setting, the owners, the Saturday night singer who fills the restaurant’s dance floor by playing ‘50s and ‘60s music, and the hearty Italian food. It is all created and served under the watchful eyes of the owners.

I felt transported back to my joyous visits to Italy and Sicily.

I know the food is key to a great restaurant and my Fra Diavolo Calamari and the stuffed artichoke that started our meal were as good as it gets. Cooked to perfection! But there’s much more here.

The spacious square dining room is set back from seating in the front of the restaurant where a bar is nestled. There is an intimate glass-enclosed room contiguous to the larger main room, but what struck me was the decor of wall after wall of painted scenes of a palazzo from Sicily. The ceiling is painted to look like the sky and the gentle lighting sets the tone as soon as you enter. I felt as if I had stepped into another world far from the heavy traffic of the commercial strip of Hempstead Turnpike!

But what impressed me most were the dancers filling the ample dance floor. What a find — a place for dinner and dancing!

We were warmly welcomed by the owners who embraced my friends. We were brought warm garlic buns with our drinks that were irresistible and within minutes we asked for a second bread basket. The menu offers all the usual favorites of an Italian restaurant with specials of the day. I had a thick, juicy veal chop served with broccoli rabe in a light garlic dressing. My friends had the pasta e fagioli soup and filet of sole in a light butter and garlic sauce.

I took a break between courses and enjoyed dancing to many old favorites including my request of Ray Charles’s “Georgia on my Mind.” I think the last time I danced to that I was in college!

We laughed as we identified the singers of the songs like “Delilah,” “Love is a Many Splendored Thing,” and multiple Andrea Bocelli songs along with Italian favorites.

It was a magical night ending with dessert — my favorite chocolate and vanilla tartufo surrounded by freshly made whipped cream, but here it’s homemade.

Enter another world at the charming Carmella’s and feel as I did. My soul and my stomach were nurtured.

It can be found at 912 Hempstead Turnpike, Franklin Square, NY (516-488-9898).

More on my first time visit to Freeport’s Nautical Mile next time.

Super Bowl Birthday

The 40 kids started pouring into the house to celebrate Jonah’s eighth birthday at 11:30, and the boys and girls got into a game of Twister immediately. With the Super Bowl a few hours away, I was amazed how each one knew the team they wanted to win. If grabbing for the Atlanta Falcons part of the birthday was any sign, we had a lot of their fans!

For me, the best part is getting all six of my grandchildren together and the biggest challenge is getting all of them in a great photo. I’m still on it!

I hope your favorite team won but the fun for me was watching the creative, gorgeous, awe-inspiring performance of Lady Gaga. What costumes! What choreography! What fun to watch the brilliant performer. Thanks, Super Bowl producers!

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