Bravo Nader: A Man And The Sea
By Pete & Rosie/
Give Nader Gebrin a boat and a kitchen, and
life is good.
And not only for Gebrin, but for diners at his Huntington
village restaurant, Bravo Nader where customers often get
to sample a practically-still-flapping catch of the day.
That was the case on a recent Monday night visit when, by
night’s end, an eight-pound fluke landed by Gebrin’s
wife earlier that day found its way onto plates – Gebrin’s
Gebrin doesn’t ask for much more out of life and when
customers at the postage-stamp sized (just a dozen or so tables)
restaurant on Union Place ask if he wants to get a bigger
place, his answer is always the same. “I have everything
I want. Why would I want more headaches?”
Bravo Nader is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for Gebrin,
who said his love of cooking goes back to his childhood in
his native Egypt. In fact, he took his first paycheck, earned
wrapping zippers for retail at age 11, to the local butcher
shop and bought himself some pork chops.
“I worked my tail off for that money. I bought a kilo
of pork chops, brought them home and told my mother I wanted
to eat them before 3 p.m. when my father got home because
I didn’t want to share them,” he said. Together
they primed the kerosene stove, cooked up the chops and Gebrin
ate them all.
He went on to learn the trade while waiting tables while he
was a student at culinary school in Switzerland. Because he
had found that Americans were the best tippers, he decided
to come to the United States. He landed in Huntington and
worked for several years at the former Orlando’s in
Huntington, and later at Marios in Hauppauge.
Which is how an Egyptian émigré came to be cooking
Italian food in Huntington.
How he came to own his tiny restaurant in Huntington village
is another story. It was at the time Trattoria Grasso and
Gebrin brought a girl there on a date. Looking around the
modest establishment, which had a well earned reputation for
an excellent kitchen, Gebrin told the girl, “Someday
I’m going to own a restaurant like this one.”
The girl became his wife, and 9 years ago, the first-date
prophesy became reality when he bought the restaurant and
renamed it Bravo Nader.
A gregarious man, Gebrin greets customers as they walk through
his door, and comes often from the kitchen to make tableside
visits. A loyal customer base enjoys both the personal attention
as well as the creative cooking that has put Bravo Nader on
Huntington’s culinary map.
An extensive menu is supplemented by a list of daily specials
dictated by Maitre d’ Carlos Alfaro of what the market
has to offer that day. During our visit, the appetizer special
included shrimp cakes – not unlike the crab cake for
which Bravo Nader is famous — sweet with hints of mustard
seed. Nearly two dozen appetizers, soups and salads are offered.
We were tempted by the Gnocci Pesto ($10.95), Baked Clams
a la Nader in a lemon garlic sauce ($9.95) and Pyramid Mozzarella
($9.95), layers of homemade mozzarella, roasted peppers, grilled
marinated eggplant and sundried tomatoes. Shellfish also called
our name: Steamed Prince Edward Island Mussels in white or
red sauce ($9.95); and Clams Posillippo ($9.95), steamed in
a garlic tomato sauce with fresh herbs.
Salads are a la carte and include the Better Than Mama’s
Italian Salad ($9.95) with salami, red peper, artichoke hearts
provolone and mmm…more; the Bravo Salad, chopped greens,
feta and the house vinaigrette ($9.95); and Classic Caesar
The entrée selections made choosing an appetizer difficult
because there were several specials on the menu we wanted
to try. Rigatoni with sweet Italian Sausage and meatballs
was so highly recommended by both Carlos and Nader that we
had to try it.
But choosing that would preclude the roasted Half Duckling
in Chocolate Mozart Sauce. Carlos solved the problem by serving
an appetizer-sized portion of the rigatoni to start. Sausage
was aromatically fennel; the meatballs were sublime, and all
was completed with a tangy, light marinara. We sopped the
last up with the crusty bread that starts every meal.
The duckling with its dark gamy meat, crispy skin and a surprising
sauce based on Mozart chocolate liqueur with chestnuts and
wild rice was worth making room for.
Rosie’s choice – a veal tenderloin with mushrooms,
was a delightful treatment of the tenderest portion of veal.
Both were served accompanied by steamed mixed vegetables and
a house favorite, sweet potato mousse.
More than two dozen entrees ranged from the highly recommended
Fresh Calamari Fra Diavalo ($24.95) with Little Neck Clams;
Veal Piazziola ($24.95), with onion, red pepper and mushrooms;
and Veal Castagne ($24.95) with chestnuts and wild mushrooms
in Marsala sauce.
Pasta dishes included a Tricoor Tortellini in Alfredo Sauace
($14.95); Gnocci Marinara ($16.95) and Rigatoni Bolognese
($17.95). Vegetarians and the health conscious diners, Whole
Wheat Pasta Primavera ($16.95) combines an assortment of fresh
vegetables in a light tomato herb sauce.
The breadth of Nader’s menu belies the size of the restaurant.
Despite the extensive selection, Gebrin is often called upon
to get creative. The kitchen is happy to accommodate, says
Gebrin, as he has the ingredients.
It happens often enough, as patrons find it a rewarding experience
to let Gebrin work his magic.
Our own magical experience continued right through dessert.
Gebrin did the choosing, sending out the Tiramisu and his
specialty, the Napolean. The Tiramisu was a treat we haven’t
tasted the likes of since Orlando’s was still serving.
The Napolean – Bravo Nader’s signature dessert
– is a rich and creamy creation made better with an
unexpected almond flavoring. Somehow, we found room for both
and left a pair of plates on the table so clean they might
have been mistaken for just that.
9 Union Place, Huntington
Atmosphere: Cozy Family Friendly
Cuisine: Creative Italian
Lunch: Mon-Fri 12 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Sun: 12 – 3 p.m.
Dinner: Mon-Thurs: 5-9:30 p.m.
Fri-Sat: 5 –10:30 p.m.
Sun: 4 – 9 p.m.