Old-Fashioned Italian At Any Time
By Leah & Pete/
Not many restaurants have made it 50 years,
but the Pine Tree Inn has comfortably settled into an old-fashioned
form to keep its original spirit alive.
Walking in through an entrance via the parking lot around
the corner from the noisy street, the aroma of pasta sauces
and garlic hits you hard. An original menu from 1956 hangs
near the entry, amidst maps of Huntington dating back to when
the restaurant was established.
A mural along the wall depicts an older, quieter town similar
to how Jericho Turnpike might have looked when O’Keefe’s
grandfather first entered the restaurant business.
Generations of families have passed through the restaurant,
said Charlie O’Keefe, the owner and one of the three
chefs. Their loyal client base gives the impression that everyone
knows each other and feels at home.
On a Friday night all of the tables are filled, but the noise
level is comfortable compared to the bustling family style
hot spots packed to the brim that have filtrated the area
in recent years.
Couples, families and groups of friends dine in a relaxing
setting that evokes the feeling of a warm ski lodge, with
pine tree frosted windows separating the bar and restaurant.
Families routinely came in with their children, and then the
children grow up and come back on dates, said our waitress,
Ginny, who has worked at the Inn for 15 years.
A group of women came in every Friday night for 15 years,
said O’Keefe. He has had customers who sat at the same
table two times a week for over a decade.
The Pine Tree Inn celebrated its 50th anniversary in March.
The restaurant and bar has been owned and operated by the
O’Keefe family since it opened as an investment property
by Charlie O’Keefe’s grandfather, a Rockville
The family business began unintentionally when his grandfather
took over the restaurant as collateral from one of his clients
who needed financial help. His daughter ran the business until
20 years ago, when her son left his job in Manhattan to take
The menu has something for everyone, the prices are reasonable
and the wait staff is gracious and eager to please.
Keeping with Italian tradition, a basket of warm garlic bread
starts off the meal.
Typical appetizers are featured but the hot antipasto sampler
($8.75) is appealing for parents and kids to share. The chopped
baked clams are smothered in warm cheese, and the fried artichoke
hearts with a spicy horseradish sauce are fresh and tangy.
Mozzarella sticks with a marinara sauce make a tasty treat
for the kids.
Classic mozzarella and tomato ($7) is drizzled with the homemade
vinaigrette dressing that, according to O’Keefe, patrons
order on the side to stock in their homes.
If you are looking for something a little different, head
straight to the warm spinach and goat cheese salad ($8.95).
With mushrooms and bacon, it strays from the average Italian
fare but is simply special.
The pasta menu features classics like spaghetti and meatballs
($11.25), penne a la vodka ($10.95) and ravioli ($9.95) but
steps out on a limb with a homemade gnocci cardinale ($13.95).
Traditional cooking reminiscent of old world Italy continues
with baked pasta dishes like baked ziti ($11.25) and homemade
For anyone looking to watch their carb intake, grilled salmon
($16.95) and a blackened chicken with tomatoes and spinach
($16.25) are great options.
The pizza comes in three sizes and is very popular among patrons.
The bar pie is the smallest, exhibiting that this restaurant
caters to its customers, many who come to the bar on a regular
The other sizes are small and large but the bar pie is perfect
for sharing. The ultra thin bar pie ($6) is a great starter.
Get the shrimp pizza ($12.95) or stick with traditional cheese
($6.50) or vegetable ($10.95). The Pine Tree Special ($10.95)
comes with a variety of toppings or you can personalize any
size starting with .75 cents per topping for a small pizza
and $1.50 for a large.
Multiple courses are common in Italian dining, but don’t
forget to save room for the entrees.
“Customers go straight to the specials,” said
Prepared by Chef Joey Roman, the chicken with artichokes and
green peas was sautéed in a sherry wine sauce ($16.95)
that was well prepared and would probably taste great again
as next-day leftovers. The portion was huge, and the sauce,
artichokes and penne pasta could be a meal unto itself.
The filet of sole piccata ($17.25) covered with capers and
mushrooms was lightly fried and served with broccoli and potato
croquettes that were fresh and flavorful.
The list of entrees is bound to please any palate. One of
their signature dishes is the chicken sorrentino ($16.95),
layered in eggplant and topped with melted mozzarella in a
marsala wine sauce.
The seafood options are among the priciest on the menu, including
the Seafood A La Pine Tree ($19.25), a combination of calamari,
clams, mussels and shrimp in a marinara or fra diavalo sauce.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday diners can opt for a set Pasta
Night menu. For $11.50, you get to choose from one of nine
pasta dishes, as well as soup or salad, coffee or tea and
the house dessert.
Parents can feel comfortable bringing their young children
here where they can order from the children’s menu.
Lunch specials include hamburgers and homemade coleslaw created
by Chef Pedro Zapata. Together O’Keefe, Roman and Zapata
have 75 years of experience.
The restaurant is a nice retreat from pretentious establishments.
It evokes the warmth of a ski lodge and come Christmas time
will be the perfect place to enjoy a meal with friends.
After 50 years, they seem to know what they are doing and
the atmosphere makes any meal taste better. Perhaps that’s
what keeps customers coming back.
Pine Tree Inn
16 West Jericho Turnpike
Atmosphere: Neighborhood Italian Restaurant
Priced: Inexpensive to moderate
Monday – Friday 11:30 – 4
Monday –Thursday 4 – 10
Friday 4 – 11
Saturday 2 – 11
Sunday 2 – 9