A Bit Of Sunny Italy In Greenlawn
By Pete & Rosie/
Picture yourself in sunny Italy, maybe at a sidewalk café
or in a rustic farmhouse, surrounded by family and friends
and doing what the natives do best – eating. Then comes
the realization you’re closer to home – in Greenlawn.
Ruvo can do that to you. The first of two Ruvos owned by the
Di Nicola family, the restaurant has earned praise for the
class and style it brings to a sleepy, two-traffic light town,
but for its cuisine. Executive Chef Joseph Di Nicola’s
kitchen brings out the best from top quality ingredients with
simple but inspired preparations. It’s Italian, but
then that’s what the De Nicola’s know.
The restaurant takes both its name and inspiration from Ruvo,
a hillside town in Southern Italy to which the Di Nicola family
traces its roots. The whole enterprise is a family affair.
Joe and brothers, Jim, Leo and Douglas are partners and bring
a lifetime of experience from the family kitchen. The restaurant’s
interiors were literally designed around artwork by Joe’s
father, James Nicoletti, whose vibrant woodcuts depicting
the sun-drenched town adorn the walls, and its wide-planked
wood floors and bar were built by Joe and his brother James
from wood salvaged from an uncle’s barn in upstate New
The brothers built the entire restaurant themselves, and bathed
it all in a warm glow from the yellow walls that evoke Tuscan
sunshine, and amber glass lamps above the bar.
If that’s not enough to make you think you’re
in sunny Italy, the cuisine will help you to complete the
journey. Just like in Italy, Joe and chef Wilmer Bedoya, who
Joe calls “the heart and soul of the restaurant,”
approach cuisine with simplicity, starting with hand-picked,
fresh ingredients, and preparing it, well... simply. A light
and skillful touch sends seafood to the grill just long enough
to crisp the skin while allowing the meat to remain plump
and moist, lets the tomatoes in the Bolognese sauce to hold
their freshness, and brings out delicate flavors without overpowering.
Nowhere was that more evident than in an elegant Gazpaccho
that opened a five-course tasting menu on our recent visit.
The rosy soup was cool with a light Cilantro flavor that rose
to the roof of the mouth. It came prettily presented in a
small square bowl, bookended with a pair of shrimp. On the
other side of the soup spectrum, a chive-dusted yellow split
pea soup was a summer version of a wintertime favorite –
warm yet light.
Among the appetizer selections, Baked Clams Oreganata ($12)
were nicely spiced, but the plump clams were remarkable for
their freshness. “They’re really local. We get
them from a guy around the corner,” Joe explains. Little
Neck Clams in their own broth with tomatoes and leeks (from
the tasting menu) were brilliant, with the sweetness of the
leeks counteracting the brininess of the clams.
We enjoyed the freshness of the Mozzarella in a Grilled Eggplant
Napolean ($8) – a taste of Italy — and the creative
pairing of Roasted Jumbo Shrimp and Avocado Puree ($12). Crab
Cakes Wasabi ($12) were sweet, but most remarkable for the
lentil salad they sat on; Grandma Di Nicola’s lentil
and bell pepper salad may have stolen the show.
But don’t go away without trying the Calamari Fritti
($7/$10), delicately battered rings of surprisingly tender
squid served with a spicy marinara dipping sauce, and an outstanding
lemon horseradish remoulade. The latter was so good we made
them leave it behind after the last calamari crumb had been
eaten just in case another opportunity came up to dip something
And that was just the starters.
Again, seafood and market vegetables dominate the ingredient-driven
menu. Striped bass from the tasting menu was lightly cooked,
and bathed in a sweet sauce flavored with Mandarin orange.
Seared Diver Scallops with Portobello and shitake mushrooms
($21) were prepared with the signature light touch that gave
a golden glow to the outside, while leaving the delicate meat
moist and tender.
Ruvo’s spice rack is used judiciously but skillfully,
particularly in the Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb ($26) with a
sophisticated Madiera, mint and fig demiglaze that complemented
the tender, pink meat.
Even the vegetables at Ruvo deserve a rave. Hardly an afterthought,
the vegetable accompaniments are as carefully thought out
as the wine pairings that went with dinner… oh, and
dessert as well. The tasting menu’s dessert was a show-stopping
tribute to East End farm stands. Caramelized farm fresh peaches
with homemade vanilla bean gelato and raspberry compote made
room for itself in our contented tummies. But then, so did
everything else. A light, berry flavored Crème Brulee
led the way and Joe’s Tiramisu, Lainy’s Mousse
Cake and Grandma Di Nicola’s Cheesecake all found a
Raves for Ruvo. With the opening of a sister restaurant by
the same name in Port Jefferson, a well-deserved repution
is sure to spread.
63 Broadway, Greenlawn
Atmosphere: Comfy rustic in sunny Italy
Hours: Lunch Mon-Fri, 12-3 pm
Dinner Mon-Thur, 5-9:30 pm
Fri & Sat 5-10:30 pm Sun, 5-9 pm