A Taste Of NYC For Huntington
By Mike & Pete/
Steve Del Lima likes to say he’s brought
a taste of New York City to Huntington. Del Lima’s Wild
Fin restaurant -- a Soho-style eatery with impeccable food
and service – opened eight months ago in the heart of
Huntington’s restaurant row -- that stretch of New York
Avenue near Main Street that seems to be home to every hot
new restaurant that opens.
Wild Fin occupies a ground floor corner of
the one time vaudeville theater that now houses the IMAC concert
venue. The restaurant’s façade belies a cavernous
space that stretches a half block to the rear. Wild Fin welcomes
diners with the folding doors that open onto the street and
are practically mandatory these days. A small airy bar gives
those waiting a place to rest and does a credible business
of its own, particularly on music nights.
It’s at the end of a long ramp that
the real Foodie fun begins. The dining room with high ceilings
and exposed brick walls is reminiscent of New York City’s
stylish eateries, and made warm with a textured yellow wash
on the plaster walls, and overscale draperies that define
the space. Soft jazz completed the mood.
Del Lima’s road to Huntington was a
long one and starts at some of New York’s top restaurants.
The che/owner learned his craft on some stellar lines, cooking
for such restauarants as Le Cirque and Danielle, before taking
greater roles at more upscale eateries like Giorgio’s
of Gramercy. He was Named New York magazine’s best upcoming
chef in 1997.
Del Lima frist brought his city style to
the Island with his RSVP in Bayville. Earlier this year, he
traded up, closing the 53-seater to open Wild Fin with more
than double that amount.
Bayville’s loss is Huntington’s
gain. Del Lima’s menu is simple, yet sophisticated,
and every dish benefits from the touch of Del Lima, and his
chef de cuisine, Phillip Tarzia.
Although Del Lima prefers a hearty steak
on his nights away from the restaurant, Wild Fin, as the name
suggests, stars seafood. The raw bar selection ($25/pp, minimum
2) is hardly your typical shrimp cocktail. You’ll pick
at clams, shrimp, two types of oyster and lobsters with classic
cocktail sauce, pickled ginger and mini Tabasco. Tempting,
but we opted to try some of the more complex appetizer creations.
These days, Ahi tuna is our benchmark dish,
and Wild Fin’s Tuna Tartare ($14) stacked up to the
best of them – in more ways than one. Subtly seasoned
with rice wine vinegar, the chopped tuna is fresh, and served
at cucumber-cool temperature in a towering construction combining
soy marinated cucumbers, orange coriander aioli, Asian micro
greens and punctuated by a pair of crisp plantain chips. The
generous portion would make the better part of a meal.
Likewise, Seared Diver Scallops ($14) brought
a trio of the plump and tender treats around a warm and flavorful
mound of warmed spinach with smokehouse bacon, dried tomatoes
and goat cheese with a balsamic vinaigrette.
On the soup side, “Camp Fire”
Onion Soup topped with creamy Gouda was hearty and sophisticated.
We were also tempted by the Maine Lobster Bisque ($10) and
will return for it if only to see how the fresh pea shoots
Salads are a separate experience at Wild
Fin. Simple Organic Baby Field Greens ($8) are dressed with
aged balsamic vinaigrette, marinated tear drop tomatoes and
carmelized shallots. The Ruby Beet and Black Plum salad ($13)
is a complex marriage of micro greens, olives, feta cheese
and lemon confit with strawberry honey vinaigrette.
Main courses stay with the seafood theme,
though Wild Fin offers a Horseradish-Crusted Filet Mignon
($35) with herbed potato croquettes, asparagus spears and
a lemon parsley pesto.
The Veal Osso Buco ($37) is exemplary of
Wild Fin’s tendency toward bold and flavorful renditions
of traditional dishes. Roasted no less than eight hours, we’
were told by our server, it was a heart-warming rendition
of the traditional Italian favorite, rich and dark with sautéed
greens, a Portobello mushroom confit and served atop a Gorganzola
infused barley risotto.
We also enjoyed what must be Fin’s
signature dish, the Cedar Planked Pacific Halibut ($29). A
chunky slab of tender fish was accompanied by lobster-sauteed
home fries that would have made the dish worth ordering by
themselves, were it not for the buttery red wine dipping sauce.
Now that would be worth ordering alone!
In every case, presentation was paramount;
each dish a complex creation of shape, color and texture.
Every one was worth a pause before eating to enjoy the visual
Dessert at Wild Fin benefits from the same
compulsiveness toward design – from construction of
the flavors to building the dish itself. We sampled the obligatory
Warm Falling Down Chocolate Cake ($8) and were rewarded with
a not-too-sweet “bun” of chocolate served with
a banana chocolate gelato and malted milk sauce. For a change
of flavor, we tried the citric-blessed Key Lime and Phyllo
($8), consisting a sharp Key Lime curd in a crisp phyllo cup
with fresh berries, a pair of biscotti and candied lime chips.
We closed our eyes and woke up in Florida.
The only down note we experienced at Wild
Fin was that the food eventually came to an end (I suppose
we could arrange to get there earlier). We planned to return
-- and one of us Foodies already did – to turn family
and friends on to its bold, chic, sophisticated style.
Wild Fin extras include music nights –
featuring Peter Mazzeo Fridays from 10 p.m.; and Don Olsen
with Willy Maidrello Saturdays from 10 p.m. Tuesday-through-Saturday
nights, wines are half-price; and the upcoming Long Island
Restuaurant Week, November 5-12, offers an excellent opportunity
to ample this top-shelf restaurant with a $21.95, three-course,
prix fixe menu.
Walk, run, swim… but get yourself to