Comfort Rules At
By Pete & Rosiefirstname.lastname@example.org
The restaurant business
is known for its high failure rate, but when an eaterys
a hit, it has staying power. Few restaurants in the Town of
Huntington have the staying power that Robkes Country
Inn has enjoyed over the years
First opened as a German restaurant on Fort Salonga Road in
Northport, Robkes has been cranking out meals since
1961. Ernest and Mary Lou Robke were famous for their burgers
and steaks and for years they kept local tummies full and
gained a loyal following. Twenty years ago they sold. Louis
Selvaggio knew a good thing when he saw it, and kept the Robke
name. Any tinkering the new owner did was in the kitchen.
Drawing on his own background as a chef, Selvaggio expanded
the Robkes menu with a taste or two from Italy, adding
such signature dishes as Penne ala Mia, or pasta with peas
and prosciutto in porcini mushroom sauce; and Snapper al Forno,
breaded and baked with fresh tomato, olive oil and garlic.
And keeping with the family-friendly theme of his restaurant,
Selvaggio can be counted on to have a pot of tomato sauce
simmering in the kitchen every Sunday. His Rigatoni with sausage
and meatballs are a favorite. The menu stayed part-time German,
but over the years the Italian has slowly taken over.
If theres a key to the success of Robkes, its
in the simplicity. The simple oak accented interior warmed
by polished brass light fixtures is as welcoming as the family
room at home. The offerings, too, are simple, with just over
a half-dozen appetizers, and as many pasta dishes, to complement
just over a dozen regular entrées. Of course there
are always specials on the board, based on whats fresh
at the market.
Crabmeat stuffed mushrooms ($8.95) or spicy clams oreganata
($10.95) make a tasty start to the meal, although we rarely
miss an opportunity to order an antipasto salad. Robkes
version of fresh mozzarella, provolone, roasted red peppers
and soppresatta tastes of authenticity. The basket of rolls
that comes with your meal is the perfect accompaniment.
Pasta specialties are generously portioned and made to order.
Penne with fresh spinach and shrimp oreganata ($19.95) has
a bit of kick to it. Linguini with baby clams puts a twist
on a trattoria standard with the addition of shrimp ($19.95).
And a favorite Robkes famous macaroni and cheese
with sliced steak ($24.95) seems to be neither German nor
Italian but American.
The restaurants German side comes out in the steak and
chop selections. A beefy sirloin ($36.95); chopped sirloin
steak ($18.95) and the famous fingertip steak sandwich ($29.95)
from the restaurants early days are a mean and a half.
While we tend to order off the specials board, sautéed
entrees vie for attention as well. Chicken Cardinali features
mozzarella, roasted peppers and salty prosciutto. The chef
is a wiz with francaise sauce: lemon sole or thinly pounded
chicken francaise ($19.95) is crispy-battered, light and lemony.
With times as tight as they are, Robkes is a hit with
its $10 lunch and Sunday brunch specials. Between the two,
a full midday meal will never cost more than two fins on any
day of the week. The days entrees are on the specials
board and on a recent visit included a delicious halibut with
cherry tomato, and a chicken francaise with fresh string beans
and potatoes. We started ours with a Blue Point ale served
with an orange slice.
Portions at Robkes are generous, the atmosphere friendly
and they earn an extra pillow for
the comfort level. Children are welcome.
All in all, Robkes is a winner.
427 Fort Salonga Road, Northport
Atmosphere: Casual, honey toned wood interior
Cuisine: Its German roots have gone Italian
Price range: Inexpensive to moderate
Hours: Sun-Thurs, 11:30-10;
Brunch Sundays 11-2.