Old Style Trattoria Embraces The Modern Era

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Matteo’s Trattoria of Huntington Station achieves the taste of modern Italian cooking by fusing high quality ingredients with dynamic flavor combinations.

The family-owned eatery has a legacy of serving Italian comfort food with a personal touch for over 25 years. Recently reopened after a lengthy renovation, the restaurant sports a chic, new look and versatile menu.

For executive chef, Dennis Borysowski, the key to mastering Italy’s flavors comes from high standards and a keen sense of flavor profiles.

“Italian food starts with the ingredients,” Borysowski said. “It all begins with sourcing the right ingredients.”

Working in every area of a restaurant from the front to the back as a chef or manager, Borysowski is equipped with a deep knowledge of dining. A self-proclaimed lover of food, wine and people, he has spent years refining his skills and learning from the cuisines of many cultures. Living in Huntington, Borysowski was thrilled to design the menu to showcase his own flair to the community.

“There are many items on the menu that are staple Matteo’s dishes and have been around for many years. We did put a modern twist on them and have items that change seasonally,” Borysowski said. “I will make nightly and weekly specials, so we can incorporate different ingredients.”

Matteo’s Trattoria frequently spruces up the menu by swapping out seasonal elements. Something as simple as different vegetable accompaniments to refreshed presentations keeps dishes new and exciting while ensuring the freshest bite. Borysowski crafts specials based on contemporary ingredients and how the weather will affect diner’s appetites. A light appetizer, that is cool on a summer day, the grilled octopus ($17/29) mixes texture and taste. The tender octopus meat is complemented by smokiness from the grill and slight bitterness of onion. Tomatoes bring a bit of acidity while white beans unite the plate, soaking up its fellow ingredients’ flavors.

“We take advantage of what we have to offer, here on Long Island,” Borysowski said. “With four seasons, there are different fruits, vegetables, and styles. We get to be creative and utilize what’s available locally.”

Matteo’s Trattoria keeps things casual, but far from average with specialty pizzas. The robiola pizza ($18.5) is a customer favorite for good reason, defying how cheesy and oozey a slice can truly be. A mixture of cow, goat and sheep’s milk, imported robiola is exceptionally creamy and fluffy. It’s slight sweetness harmonizes with the earthy, savory flavor of truffle oil and black truffles.

“We are a family-style restaurant, so we want the whole family to come,” Borysowski said. “This is the only Matteo’s with a pizza oven. We do Italian pan-size or individual pizzas, they’re great to share as entrees or for kids.”

Matteo’s Trattoria offers single, as well as family style portions. No matter the size, linguine and clams ($18/29) takes the seafood staple to another level. The pasta and little neck clams marinate in the white wine sauce to soak up its buttery, light flavor. The clams taste fresh and tender, coming right out of the shells that are artfully placed around the plate.

“The base of modern Italian food is very simple. A few ingredients that are done right,” Borysowski said. “It shouldn’t really be over-presented. Presentation is important but if it’s simple, it looks good and fresh. Everyone eats with their eyes, so as soon as they see it, they want to dig in.”

The veal chop valdostana ($49.50) is feast for the eyes built around a heaping cut of bone-in veal. The meat is transformed with layers of mozzarella and prosciutto that bring a dynamic mix of savory, salty and creamy flavors; mushrooms and marsala give hints of dark sweetness.

Matteo’s staff pride themselves on warmly greeting everyone as if they are a regular.

“We want people to feel like they’re in an extension of their living room,” Borysowski said. “We want them to feel at home and welcomed. We treat them like they’re guests in our home.”


Matteo’s Trattoria
300 W. Jericho Turnpike
Huntington Station
631-421-6001
MatteosRistorante.com

Cuisine: Italian
Atmosphere: Chic and bright
Price: Appetizers: $13-29
Salads: $13-23
Entrées: $16.50-49.50
Hours:
Monday-Thursday, 5- 10 p.m.;
Friday-Saturday, 5-11 p.m.;
Sunday, 3-9 p.m.

 

SIDE DISH:

Arrive early and enjoy drinks in the sophisticated city style lounge at Northport’s John W. Engeman Theater.

Arrive early and enjoy drinks in the sophisticated city style lounge at Northport’s John W. Engeman Theater.

Theater Drinks: With Saturday Night Fever, The Musical now playing at Northport’s John W. Engeman Theater, ticketholders will want to arrive early to spend some time in The Green Room Piano Bar and Lounge in the theater at 250 Main Street in Northport. It is an upscale, Manhattan-style bar serving great beverages before, during and after each performance. They have an extensive wine list by the bottle and glass, full cocktail selection, draught and bottled craft beers as well as gourmet cheese and cracker platters.


Daniel Pedisich readies a platter of cured meats and cheese in the kitchen at Konoba in Huntington village.

Daniel Pedisich readies a platter of cured meats and cheese in the kitchen at Konoba in Huntington village.

Brunch and Beverages: Konoba at 46G Gerard Street in Huntington village offers a great weekend brunch. Try the Palacinke (Croatian style crêpe with Nutella); eggs benedict (Canadian bacon or smoked salmon with poached eggs, hollandaise, home fries); Raznjici (traditional style pork kebabs, fries, red onion, pita, and Avjar, a mixed vegetable spread); Mjesano Meso, or mixed grill (Ćevapčiči, Ražnjići, Kobasica - pork sausage, fries, red onion, pita, Ajvar). Couple that with a fantastic wine list and fun drinks makes for a great meal.

 

Bistro and Brother: The owners of Bistro 44 in Northport have opened a little brother down the block where 7T8 used to be. The Harbor House menu highlights seafood, and from what we have tried to date – is excellent. It is a smaller restaurant with some outdoor dining and we recommend reservations. Harbor House is on Open Table.

 

The Mac ‘n Cheese at Sweet Mama’s.

The Mac ‘n Cheese at Sweet Mama’s.

Very Sweet Mama’s - We always knew they had great breakfasts and lunches – but dinners? Why, yes! Seems it is a great place for an early dinner too. Of course you can get their great breakfast menu all day and the burgers make a fantastic dinner, but they have a varied dinner menu too. From the Thanksgiving Style Turkey with all the trimmings ($20.99) to Papa’s Buffalo Mac and Cheese ($19.99), there’s a wide variety to fit all members of the family. Located at 9 Alsace Place in Northport, they offer a full bar, great ambience and outdoor dining as well.


Lale night dining at Crabtree’s in Huntington includes a bird’s eye view of the action on the street.

Lale night dining at Crabtree’s in Huntington includes a bird’s eye view of the action on the street.

Late Night Dining: If you work long hours and want a place to unwind with good food near Huntington village, the following places offer late night menus. Try Crabtree’s NY & Main (on the second floor) at 330 New York Avenue, Huntington, 631-923-0920; Bar Petite at 56 Stewart Avenue, Huntington,  631-759-76191; Konoba at 46 G Gerard Street, Huntington, 631-824-7712; and Nicky’s of Centerport at  8 Little Neck Road, Centerport 631-757-7277. Each will make you feel at home and welcome – even at 10 p.m.! Call before going since hours of operation vary depending on the day.

More Lessings: We all know the great Huntington places to dine under the Lessing’s umbrella – Hatch, Finnegan’s and Sandbar – but if you venture a little out of town you can be treated to Mirabelle at 150 Main Street in Stony Brook. When we were there, we started with the Duck Liver and Foie Gras Mousse ($10), then moved to their small plates menu and had the Flammkuchen – Alsatian thin crusted pizza with bacon, onions and sour cream ($10), and the Kobe Beef Sliders ($14). All were excellent.

Eat, Read, Repeat: Buy breakfast or lunch ... and The Long Islander. Scott’s Vernon Valley Delicatessen and Caterers at 143 Vernon Valley Road, Northport 631-261-1994. offers great food but also The Long Islander newspaper for sale. Please stop in and visit Scott. Even if you already subscribe to the paper with home delivery, stop in and grab a Boar’s Head Deli Meat sandwich, or a bacon, egg and cheese on a roll, or a hamburger. You can see the menus on vernonvalleydeli.com. Tell Scott that you read about him in The Long Islander.

Bar Petite Is Not Small On Flavor

By Amy Kelly
akelly@longislandergroup.com

Bar Petite had some pretty big shoes to fill when proprietor John Conzone took over the space on Stewart Avenue which was previously the home of Bin 56. With Chef Edgar Quintanilla in the kitchen, they did just that… and then some, and have quickly established their own following among Huntington foodies.

The restaurant is small in comparison to some, but with the new configuration of tables including banquette seating along one wall, it feels more open and airy.  The bar has been redone with an amber backdrop that creates a golden glow that accents warm wood tones throughout. When the weather is nice, the French doors are flung open to evening breezes and there are additional bistro tables outside welcoming you to enjoy the sunsets.

Located just two blocks north of the Huntington village hub, Bar Petite is close enough to grab a bite before a concert, or a fun stop on a pub crawl.  Or grab a good table at Bar Petite on a Tuesday or Wednesday night when they host local musicians. Just passing by any night of the week from Tuesdays through Saturdays (they are closed on Sundays and Mondays), you get drawn in by the music and friendly people who have discovered this gem of a gathering spot.

Bar Petite has an extensive cocktail menu and our waiter, Anthony, was knowledgeable in helping us decide which crowd favorites we needed to sample.  We settled on the Jack Rabbit, an unlikely pairing of Patron Anejo tequila and Campari with fresh mint; a Whiskey Jammer made with Maker’s Mark and Aperol; and an ice cold Moscow Mule – all refreshing and way too easy going down.  We also loved the classic mainstay Big Dirty Martini highlighted with bleu cheese stuffed olives.  There’s an extensive list of martinis with colorful names like the Bee’s Knees, Firefly, Montauk, and Gold Rush, but our favorite was the L.I. Tini, a cool Long Island favorite served straight up.

Bring your appetite to Bar Petite because the options are endless. Our favorite appetizer is the bacon wrapped apricots stuffed with manchego cheese, drizzled with balsamic reduction and sprinkled with gorgonzola.  Tucked within the smoky bacon, a slice of jalapeno adds a surprisingly non-spicy finish. A charcuterie board menu allows you to create your own appetizer from an array of cured meats and artisan cheeses, which come with toasted baguette, jam, olives, nuts and berries. Chicken wings are tender and delicious with a sweet, orange glaze. Truffle fries are also not to be missed. They are dusted with shaved parmesan, fresh herbs, and accompanied by house-made lemon aioli and honey mustard dipping sauces.

If you are a seafood lover, feast on Bar Petite’s light and crisp sashimi tuna tacos. Fresh tuna is accented with mango and cucumber salsa, house-made wasabi cream sauce, and sprinkled with chives.  The roasted vegetable flatbread is a flavorful mix of peppers, mushrooms, caramelized onions, mozzarella and jack cheeses, topped with a basil oil drizzle.  Sesame crusted Ahi tuna salad is fresh and tasty with avocado, pickled ginger, seaweed salad, and a unique hazelnut vinaigrette. If you are the adventurous type, grilled baby octopus with fingerling potatoes is tender and sure to please.

Bar Petite is a great late night destination which has something for everyone. From lobster ravioli to stuffed shrimp, to burgers and barbecue pork sliders, to crab cakes to fish tacos, Bar Petite will tantalize all taste buds. For a great vibe and delicious food, venture a block or two off the beaten path and discover a refreshing new place to wine and dine. You’ll be so glad you did.

 Bar Petite
56 Stewart Avenue, Huntington
631-759-7619
Cuisine: Creative small plates
Atmosphere: Casual
Price Range: Flatbreads, $14;
Salads and small plates, $8-$20
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 5 p.m. – midnight; Friday and Saturday. 5 p.m. – 1 a.m.

Inspired By Street Eats, Served With City Style

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

 

Mission Taco in Huntington village captures the tastes of Mexico with a modern flair.

Opened last month, Mission Taco embodies a contemporary taqueria serving up an assortment of tacos and delicious refreshments in a stylish interior.

The restaurant is the creation of Standard Hospitality Group partners and taco lovers; Steve Squitiro, Andrew Affa, Thomas Moran, and Jose Estevez.

“It all started when we were in Cancun one night and had street tacos,” Moran said. “We all said this is amazing. This is what Long Island is missing.”

Months of research and planning went into the restaurant’s unique recipes and aesthetic. The interior takes inspiration from Mexican Day of the Dead themes and urban décor. There are many eye-catching elements to explore while dining. A vivid mural of a skull along a back wall is the centerpiece, while gorgeous portraits of Frida Kahlo adorn the walls up front. Artist Poor Rupert spent 30 nights painting the colorful artworks which Moran said reflect the restaurant’s philosophy.

“We want our tacos and cocktails to be just as loud, vibrant, and colorful as the design of the restaurant,” he said.

Mission Taco meets this goal, through carefully crafted cocktails and cuisine that are dynamically presented. Refreshments get the special treatment, with juices freshly pressed by bartenders. The Mission Margarita ($14) is anything but average. A punchy beverage softened by a sea salt foam, it achieves just the right amount of bitter and salty. The Mariposa ($14) is floral fun. It stays on the sweet side with flower tea-infused vodka and a sprig of lavender.

“Fresh juice makes the cocktails pop,” Moran said. “It makes a world of difference in achieving those flavor profiles.”

Savoring these flavors without alcohol is just as delicious. “On the Wagon” mixtures Breath and Stop ($6) and Hypnotize ($6) refresh with cool flavors of mint and watermelon or the tastes of pineapple and carrot.

“You couldn’t be true to your craft if you just threw juices together,” Moran said. “We put pride into our products and feel our bar is a reflection of our culinary program. The bartenders are chefs with liquids, their palettes bring out the right flavors in cocktails.”

Cultivating the flavors of Mexico with a modern twist took months of experimentation for executive chef Andy Nash, Affa, and Moran. Their unusual approach to classic Mexican Street Corn ($7) takes it off the cob for easy mixing of the chili rub, lime, cotija, garlic crema. It’s grilled just enough to capture the smokiness, while the cotija is soft and creamy. The habanero honey glaze on the chicken lollipops ($10) harmonizes spicy and sweet, achieving a hot, savory wing.

“We knew there had to be staple items on the menu,” Moran said. “That’s when we began to explore different options, figuring out what worked together. Balance with food and flavors is important. We want everything to stand out, while standing together.”

Playing around with ingredients, they whipped up the Habanero Pumpkin Seed Hummus ($5), a healthy starter with a spicy kick.

Conscious of health and dietary restrictions, Mission Taco offers gluten-free and vegan options. The sprouts taco ($5) elevates brussels sprouts with a rich black bean corn salsa, while corn tortillas, sourced from Vista Hermosa, deliver authentic Mexican flavor.

“Corn tortillas are the centerpiece of the taco, so we eliminate gluten right there,” Moran said. “Ninety percent of our menu became gluten-free, just because of tradition.”

Mission Taco transforms Mexican staple carne asada ($7) with a dark cherry chimichurri, mixing savory fruit, with fresh herbs for a versatile bite.

“We want to touch on authentic tacos, but also put our spin on it,” Moran said. “We want to create something different, cool and approachable.”

Mexican cooking often combines peppers and fruit, a tradition reflected in the octopus taco ($9). The bitter-sweet, slightly spicy mole sauce is complemented by the natural, crisp taste of apple slaw.

“It’s something that’s affordable, easy, and fluid, so anyone can come in for a quick bite,” Moran said. “We want to deliver food everyone will enjoy, kids love tacos, adults love tacos, who doesn’t love tacos?”

SIDE DISH: Leilu’s What’s New… Yoga, History And Brew…

That double-bone Berkshire pork chop with peaches and wilted baby kale over peach aji-amarillo risotto from Leilu Huntington.

That double-bone Berkshire pork chop with peaches and wilted baby kale over peach aji-amarillo risotto from Leilu Huntington.

NEW IN TOWN: Huntington residents, foodies and wine enthusiasts James and Meghan LaCourte have opened Leilu Huntington in old Fado. With a New American menu and a serious knowledge of wine and spirits, the LaCourtes hope to make Leilu a home away from home for customers. The LaCourtes gave longtime Portuguese mainstay Fado a complete reno and have been perfecting the menu and wine list in preparation for a soft opening over the Fourth of July weekend. Drop by. Leilu is located at 10 New Street, Huntington village. 631-944-3111.

FRESH FLOW: A food, brew and yoga event in support of ELIJA Farm of Huntington Station will be held Wednesday, July 17, 6-9 p.m. at The Sea Cliff Yacht Club in Sea Cliff. “Namaste and IPA” is a fun take on yoga where attendees can “Sip and Savasana.” It will feature 50 minute gentle flow yoga led by Simone Sanchez Giberstein, 15-minute sound savasana/meditation, and one pint IPA from Garvies Point Brewery. A presentation on ELIJA Farm will be given and dinner will include assorted wraps, turkey lettuce and tomato, chicken Caesar, and grilled vegetables. There will also be raffle items, goodie bags, and a small veggie market. Tickets: $75. Visit elijafarm.org.

 

Historic Walking Tour And Pub Crawl takes you around Huntington village, while stopping at three historic establishments for drinks.

Historic Walking Tour And Pub Crawl takes you around Huntington village, while stopping at three historic establishments for drinks.

HISTORY AND HOPS: Town of Huntington Historian, Robert C. Hughes leads a Historic Walking Tour And Pub Crawl around Huntington Village on Thursday, July 18, 6:30-9 p.m., as well as Aug. 22 and Oct. 17. Tour begins at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Building, 228 Main Street and museum opens at 6 p.m. The walking tour guides you through notable buildings and events in the history of Huntington village. Along the way participants will stop at three bars. Reservations are required; email info@huntingtonhistoricalsociety.org or call 631-427-7045 x 401. Cost: $15 members, $20 non-members, drinks not included.

WINE AND CHEESE: Is there a better combination than wine and cheese? Well, yes. How about 20-percent off the wine? Ticketholders to the “Taste of Summer” event at Restaurant Joanina, 35 Gerard Street, Huntington village, will sample some light reds, crisp whites, prosecco, and rose wines along with brick-oven pizza, passed hors d’ouervres and selected artisanal cheeses selected by cheesemonger Patrick D’Ambrosio of The Village Cheese Merchant, Rockville Center. Tickets are $49 per person. Purchase at Restaurantjoanina.com, or call 631-549-2727. If you like what you taste, guests will receive 20-percent off tasted wines at the wine shop next door.

Taste The Dominican Republic At Punta Cana

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Punta Cana Dominican Grill makes assembling meals simple. With on the spot ordering and an array of meats and sides, the possibilities are endless.

Spreading the flavors of the Dominican Republic is the mission of owner Jon Romero. Growing up with parents and relatives from the Dominican Republic, Romero would feast on his country’s flavors daily. In search of local restaurants that could match his family’s cooking, Romero came up empty handed.

“I was tired of going to Freeport or Hempstead to get authentic Dominican food,” Romero said. “I’ve lived in Westbury my whole life, so I figured why not bring it closer by?”

Eager to fill the gap in his neighborhood, Romero opened Punta Cana in 2015. His dream is to open Punta Cana in popular areas of Long Island that lack Dominican cuisine, and one day to expand to the rest of the country. Punta Cana recently opened in Huntington village and will open in Rockville Centre this fall.

“In my college days, I would hang out in popular dining areas like Huntington that aren’t familiar with this food,” Romero said. “My goal is to introduce this cuisine to a lot of people.”

Learning to cook at the age of 13 from his grandmother, Romero brings his family’s recipes to the menu. He incorporates the flavors and ingredients he was taught, while adding his own “taste.” Punta Cana puts a crisp twist on chicken with boneless chicken chunks in a seasoned, crunchy shell. Sliced avocado keeps things fresh, while its soft, ripeness balances out the crispy texture.

“All of the recipes are created by me,” Romero said. “My chefs are trained to recreate that flavor profile using the same ingredients and process. We try to keep everything consistent.”

The signature cana bowl is a mix and match of beans and rice, protein, a side and sauce. Customers can pick and choose what goes in, as workers gather ingredients in an assembly line style. The cana bowls are loaded to the brim with Dominican delights. Start with yellow rice and peas, throw on some grilled chicken breast, served fajita style with onions and peppers, and finish off with fried yucca to take your tastebuds on a journey. The yucca is a major upgrade of french fries, with a crisp outer shell and dense, mushy inside, that is great with any of their in-house sauces.

“The main thing is the customization, because I know the bowl concept is popular,” Romero said. “We can make so many different combinations and that’s the point, so people don’t get tired of ordering the same dish, with the same side.”

Punta Cana offers an assortment of meats, from stew to grilled to fried. Romero feels variety is important, but prioritizes quality over quantity.

The steak with peppers and onions demonstrates Punta Cana’s mastery of meats. Thin strips of grilled steak take hints of flavor from the peppers.

“It’s what we grew up with,” Romero said. “It’s very important to Dominican cuisine, that you always have choices because the people in the country raise many animals. I don’t think it would be the same if we only had one chicken, beef or pork option. We need to show off all our proteins to really be authentic.”

A Dominican staple, empanadas pack a lot of flavor in a bite. Every month, Punta Cana debuts a new flavor but the chicken fajita and cheeseburger cannot be missed. The light, pastry-like shell is stuffed with savory meats and cheeses, making it a portable treat.

Bean salad and potato salad are refreshing sides, perfect for summer months with chilled, natural ingredients. The food is always fresh, as chefs cook throughout the day.

“We cook everything in small batches,” Romero said. “For me, we can’t use the word ‘authentic’ if we don’t do that. Otherwise, it’s nothing like what I was raised on or taught.”

 

Punta Cana Dominican Grill
376 New York Ave, Huntington
631-546-1445
eatpuntacana.com

 

 

Cuisine: Dominican
Atmosphere: Modern, fast-paced
Price range: Cana Bowl: $8-11, Salad Bowl: $11-13, Empanadas $2.50

 

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.; Saturday, noon - 11 p.m.; Sunday, noon - 8 p.m

Find Fresh Fusion At 110 Japan

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com|

Masters of flavor, fusion, and entertainment, 110 Japan in Huntington Station serves up a deluxe dining experience no matter where you sit.

The Japanese eatery, opened five years ago by Sonny Lin, delivers an expansive menu of entrees, hibachi, sushi, and happy hour specials.

Originally from China, Lin worked in the restaurant industry for over 15 years before embarking on 110 Japan. He said Japanese cuisine gives chefs more room to explore with authentic flavors, as opposed to Chinese that has established standards in America.

“I wanted to open a modern Japanese restaurant with an Asian fusion twist,” Lin said. “There’s something for everybody here. It’s a big restaurant, laid out in three ways so everyone has a place. The menu is relatively large, so we have a variety of choices.”

110 Japan is an upscale eatery with refined decor and eye-catching elements. The dining room is reserved for intimate dinners – a place for sharing conversation and bites.

A meeting place for many, the bar serves up happy hour specials for friends and co-workers alike.

And anyone, any age, can enjoy the show at the hibachi tables where meal preparation becomes a fun celebration.

“This restaurant is very unique,”  executive chef Chee Meng So said. “If you have kids, you can enjoy the hibachi. If you’re with family or your partner, you can sit in the dining area. If you’re with friends, there’s a bar and happy hour. It’s a fun atmosphere.”

So got his start at the Four Seasons restaurant and has been cooking for more than 20 years. He experienced a wide variety of cultural cuisines that he infuses into dishes today. Although, 110 Japan’s menu is mostly Japanese, So incorporates many techniques learned in his native Malaysia.

“I enjoy doing fusion, so there’s a bit of South-East Asian cuisine,” So said. “But we always test and try it before launching.”

So draws inspiration for his dishes from cookbooks and his own travels, taking elements that he can blend together. A refreshing appetizer, the new style yellowtail jalapeno ($12) shines with a light sauce that incorporates hints of soy sauce and wasabi. Melon balls and tomatoes give it a fresh touch that pairs well with the soft yellowtail.

Sometimes it takes time to achieve excellence. 110 Japan braises pork for six hours before pan-searing the meat for the braised pork special. Braising the pork and draining off the grease before crisping the outside keeps the dish lean and the inside tender, So said. The chef accomplishes this goal, delivering a savory and slightly sweet meat that melts in the mouth. Complemented by corn and cashews, the dish stays fresh and nutty.

Fresh, in-season ingredients are important to So’s kitchen “Right now, sweet corn and melon is very fresh, so we will use it in specials,” So said. “We don’t change the menu often but I create many specials based on the season.”

The chef takes time to think of the flavors he will unite on a plate, paying particular attention to variation. Pan-seared wild striped bass ($22) demonstrates his proficiency. A jalapeno miso sauce brings the heat. It’s balanced by the sweetness of coconut sticky rice and hearty asparagus. The fish’s crust is light and well seasoned.

“It’s all about balancing it out,” So said. “If it’s too spicy, then you’ll get bored and can’t finish the meal. For the pork, it’s kind of greasy so I balance it with sweet corn.”

This summer, 110 Japan will incorporate more fruits and vegetables, even pairing sashimi with slices of fruit. A new sushi special, the fancy toro roll is decadence on a dish. Found in the belly of the tuna, toro is extremely tender and fatty. It is mixed with tuna and topped by gold flakes for extra elegance.

“Food presentation is important,” So explained. “I want customers to have a great first impression of the food before they eat it.”

Lin has worked to build a connection with the community by keeping things real and authentic. He hopes to carry this on at his new restaurant, Takumi, opening in Bay Shore this month.

“I always tell my employees to greet customers with a warm smile and remember what the regulars like, treat them as a friend,” Lin said. “Every year we have an anniversary party, that we invite regulars to as our treat, they can sit with our staff and enjoy as friends.”

 

110 Japan
179 Walt Whitman Road (Route 110)
Huntington Station
631-673-5888
110japan.com
Cuisine: Japanese/Fusion
Atmosphere: Modern and lively
Price range:
Appetizers: $5-12, Sushi: $13-45
Entrées: $8-26
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m. - 11 p.m.; Sunday, 1-10 p.m.

Irish Chili… Fighter’s Diet… Choose Your Cheese

Find out what the Irish know about making chili June 29 from noon at the American Legion in Halesite.

Find out what the Irish know about making chili June 29 from noon at the American Legion in Halesite.

HEATING UP: Members of the Irish-American fraternal organization that puts on the St Patrick’s Parade in Huntington are getting into the chili game. Huntington Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 4 will host its first-ever Chili Cook-Off on Saturday, June 29 beginning at noon at the American Legion Post 360 (1 Mill Dam Road, Huntington). The event will raise funds to support the family of the late Hibernian brother Gerard Molloy who died earlier this year, and earn bragging rights to the cook whose chili is judged to be the best. Organizers said the cook-off perfectly pairs with memories of Molloy, a well-respected executive pastry chef who loved to dabble in all aspects of cooking. The event will feature tastings, raffles and a cash bar. Suggested donation is $10 for tasters. Cooks who wish to enter their chili for free can learn more at huntingtonhibernian.com/chili_2019.html.

 

Huntington boxer Chris Algieri speaks about and signs copies of his new book “The Fighter’s Kitchen” Thursday, June 27 at Book Revue in Huntington.

Huntington boxer Chris Algieri speaks about and signs copies of his new book “The Fighter’s Kitchen” Thursday, June 27 at Book Revue in Huntington.

EAT LIKE A CHAMPION: Ever wonder how professional MMA fighters in the UFC prepare their bodies for fights? The real training often starts in the kitchen, where the right meals at the right times can give fighters everything they need to be ready for their next match. Join Huntington boxer Chris Algieri as he speaks about and signs copies of his new book, “The Fighter’s Kitchen,” Thursday, June 27, 7-9 p.m. at Book Revue, 313 New York Ave, Huntington. Fighters fuel their bodies with precise nutrients delivered at specific times to achieve optimal performance. “The Fighter’s Kitchen” provides expert guidance on what and when to eat, and will help you understand how our bodies use what we eat to burn fat and build lean, strong muscle.

CHOOSE YOUR CHEESE WISELY: Have you ever looked at a cheese case and said to yourself “I have no clue what to do here?” Learn how to navigate a cheese counter with a tasting on Thursday, June 20, 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Nest on Main, 135 Main St., Northport. Jessica Affatato of Harbor Cheese and Provisions will teach you what to look for - both good and bad - when out shopping for cheese. Enjoy a special five-cheese tasting with their best accompaniments. Tickets: $45 at Nestonmainmarket.com.

-- Compiled by Sophia Ricco

New Generation Recharges Mediterranean Cafe

Owner Edmund Zarou, left, has kept Zaro’s Cafe a family tradition taking over the business after 25 years. Cousin Alex Solounias is the restaurant’s chef and grillmaster.

Owner Edmund Zarou, left, has kept Zaro’s Cafe a family tradition taking over the business after 25 years. Cousin Alex Solounias is the restaurant’s chef and grillmaster. 

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The flavors of Italy and Greece meet and mingle on the menu of Zaro’s Cafe in Huntington Station, a longtime staple in the community.

Zaro’s Cafe has been dishing out Italian and Greek cuisine for over 25 years with many of the original recipes still being served today. Opened in 1993 by the Zarou family, it has remained in the family for three generations. The latest owner is Edmund Zarou who grew up witnessing his grandparents, father and aunt build up Zaro’s Café. He’s now leaving his own mark on the eatery.

“It’s family business ever since we started,” Zarou said. “I started working here when I was about 18. My cousin was here until she moved on, so now my other cousin is the main grill guy. My wife is the hostess and assistant manager, then my sister is a waitress. It’s still truly family rooted.”

Originally a pizza and gyro hub, Zaro’s Cafe has evolved and expanded its entree menu.

“We started out as a take-out place, then ended up as a sit-down restaurant,” Zarou said. “The customer feedback we received made the transition natural. We are serving high quality food, for a very reasonable price, which people understood.”

The eatery still offers take-out and gyros, but last year Zarou made the decision to streamline the offerings and take pizza off the menu. This has allowed him to focus even further on the quality of the food.

“My mindset was do a couple things really well, instead of just doing a lot of things okay,” Zarou said.

Zaro’s Cafe shows off its Greek side with a bountiful greek salad ($7/10) containing all the elements of a fresh feast. The grape leaves stand out with a well-seasoned inside layer wrapped in soft, earthy leaves outside. There is no shortage of feta cheese which gives the dish a salty kick.

“Everything is pretty much done in-house, from scratch,” Zarou said. “I don’t have a basement, which is a good thing for quality, not good for storage. But fortunately everything is fresh. We’re a five-day operation and I’m grocery shopping five days a week.”

Zarou ensures excellence by tasting all of his ingredients. His attention to detail shows in the spanakopita ($7) crafted by Zarou’s cousin Alex Solounias, The spinach, feta and spices blend together while the flaky pastry on the outside keeps things light.

“It’s us picking everything, we’re cooking it and we’re serving it,” Zarou said. “We have total control. My cousin is super picky, which is the best since he has high quality control.”

Many of the Zaro’s Cafe recipes have stood the test of time going back to the restaurant’s beginnings in1993, A classic Italian dish, penne ala vodka ($14.25) has all the makings of a home-cooked meal with a thick pink sauce and a light sprinkling of fresh herbs. Chicken francaise ($18.50) is light, with a harmonious lemon-butter-wine sauce that doesn’t overpower. The chicken is very tender with a slightly crisp layer of breading.

“We’ve had people that grew up here, went away to college and moved away, then came back 20 years later and told us, ‘Your food is still exactly how I remember it.’ We want to keep that consistency,” Zarou said.

By serving both Italian and Greek faire, Zaro’s Cafe has earned a reputation for variety, allowing people to mix and match the cultural cuisines. Start off with pasta and finish with baklava ($7), a Greek treat, filled with walnuts and pistachios and drizzled with honey for extra sweetness.

“There’s something for everybody here,” Zarou said. “It’s rare that someone will come in here and not find something they like.”

 

Zaro’s Café
135 W Jericho Turnpike #6, Huntington Station
631- 271-4400
zaroscafe.com

Cuisine: Italian and greek
Atmosphere: Bright and rustic
Price range:
Appetizers:
$8.50-10.95
Salads: $7-14.50
Entrées: $16.95-22.95
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. and 4:30-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. and 4:30-9:30 p.m. 

Chef Nikki Brings It Home

By Sophia Ricco

sricco@longislandergroup.com

The delights of scrumptious cooking with natural ingredients can be enjoyed in the comfort of one’s home with personal chef Nicole Uliano.

Welcomed into homes on the North Shore, Chef Uliano serves up mouthwatering platters with eclectic elements for up to 70 guests or simply prepares dinner for a busy family. With over four years experience as a personal chef, Uliano brings her skills to make a splash at special events like birthday parties, Shabbat dinners, and bridal showers.

Typically, Uliano will take over a client’s kitchen for four to five hours be- fore guests arrive, but this past week found herself in an unusual spot - cooking in her own apartment.

“It’s funny to do this in my home since I usually do everything in other people’s homes,” Uliano said. “I grocery shop for them, arrive and prep-cook, then, depending on the event, I will stay and plate dishes throughout the party.”

Her wide array of offerings allows Uliano to be flexible to clients’ needs. Over time, Uliano has picked up recipes and techniques to craft kosher, gluten- free and vegan dishes. Based on what is desired, Uliano can continuously cook throughout events, stock refrigerators with a week’s worth of meal prep, or teach her methods with in-home cooking classes.

“I’ve done private dinners for couples, where I stay the whole time and prepare three to four courses,” Uliano said. “It’s like having a restaurant in your house.”

Coming from a family of Italian cooks, Uliano attended the Culinary Institute of America and studied further at the Natural Gourmet Institute where she learned about holistic, healthy cooking from former personal chefs.

Uliano prides herself on presenting gorgeous plates that are a feast for the eyes and stomach. She finds the key to presentation is a rich color scheme and interesting shapes.

“It’s simple, I would say, but I love color,” Uliano said. “On the cheese board, there’s an orange-red theme. For the veggies, it’s pinks and purple. As I plate, I can’t say alright I’ll put this here, it’s an organic flow that just kind of happens.”

Uliano’s signature cheese and charcuterie board is a spectacle to take in, overflowing with ripe fruits, meats from sopressata to prosciutto, and cheeses like blue, brie, apricot, cranberry and goat. The decadent platter makes a mouth-watering centerpiece that invites diners in to grab a bite. Fresh apricots and cherries add to the color palette while balancing the savory cheeses and meats.

“I cook seasonal,” Uliano said. “All the veggies, rhubarb and strawberries are in season. I try to go to local farms and source locally whenever possible.”

For the summer Uliano will keep plates light and refreshing. She sources from Young’s Farm in Brookville and various farmers markets, always striving to include the freshest ingredients. This is evident in the crudités with beet hummus. A colorful array of vegetables surrounding deep pink hummus, it elicits a kick with a sprinkle of curry powder.

Uliano crafts every menu with care and thorough collaboration. She will often present a sample menu that is tweaked until the client is satisfied.

“Each menu is personalized to the client,” Uliano said. “If they tell me one of their favorite dishes, I can do a twist on that. I go for unique items and like to think out of the box. If you take a standard recipe, like the niçoise salad, and deconstruct it onto a platter, it’s different.”

The niçoise platter highlights seared tuna, olives, hard-boiled eggs, potatoes and string beans. The tuna is expertly cooked with a tender raw middle. Her sense for contrasting flavors blended together work in harmony, such as the watermelon, heirloom tomato and feta salad, that incorporates elements of sweet, acidic, and salty.

“I like the fresh, natural approach to food,” Uliano said. “I think you should know what you’re eating. It doesn’t have to be organic, but I don’t cook with preservatives or anything artificial. Everything is made from scratch, whether it’s pie dough or whip cream.”

As for desserts, Uliano’s love for rustic elements brings to mind her decadent rhubarb strawberry crostata with whipped cream bringing the bright red fruits together with a hearty crust and smooth cream.

In the busy world we live in, everyone could benefit from a visit from Chef Nikki who brings her talents in the kitchen to your own table.

Chef Nikki

North Shore of Long Island

516-263-3714

instagram.com/chefnikki_uli

Cuisine: Natural and fresh

Atmosphere: In-home

Price: Dependent on size of party

Hours: Anytime

Plantwise Proves Vegan Can Be Delicious

By Sophia Ricco

sricco@longislandergroup.com

Plantwise has a mission to help the community eat one plant-based meal a day. With dynamic dishes and eagerness for education, they are a hub for a healthy lifestyle.

The Dix Hills eatery specializes in plant- based cuisine that is free of animal products like meat, dairy or eggs, but full of flavor.

Owners Pamela Kambanis and Alex Adikimenakis took on a vegan lifestyle around seven years ago, prompting them to explore a world of plant-based meals. Eager to share their values and techniques of healthy eating, they opened Plantwise in 2015.

“We had to relearn everything,” Kambanis said. “But I think those four years of re- teaching ourselves, finding new recipes and challenging ourselves with new spices and flavors helped us to take the focus away from meat or dairy. This prepped us to open the restaurant.”

Kambanis said it took time to master vegan cooking in their own kitchen. Keeping the flavors of their favorite dishes while staying animal-free was a challenge. Adikimenakis took the lead designing the menu, drawing influence from various cultures and continuously experimenting.

“We’re really great together, because he figured out how to create the food and pres- ent it in a beautiful way,” Kambanis said. “Neither of us had restaurant experience, we just kinda dove in and made it work.”

For three years, Plantwise has served as a place of enlightenment where anyone can learn about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle. While you peruse Plantwise’s menu, knowledgeable staff can explain, advise and answer questions.

“Many people come in saying they’ve heard of veganism or are trying to eat healthier, but don’t know where to start or what the options are,” Kambanis said. “We find ourselves educating, while helping guide people through the journey of eating better.”

The couple once offered 12 smoothie flavors but recently condensed this to the best four recipes.

“We wanted to focus our energy on the food side, since many people come in for it, we want to make sure we have a lot of variety,” Kambanis said.

The Coconutty takes a unique form as a smoothie bowl ($9.50). A blend of peanut butter, cacao, hemp seeds and chocolate protein, makes a rich and sweet base layer, that is asking to be mixed with the coconut, banana and strawberry toppings. Other beverages include strawberry lemonade ($4.99) and spicy green lemonade ($5.99). Both are naturally sweetened with apples.

“This is not the store it was three years ago,” Kambanis said. “We’ve grown so much and keep growing. Everything that we add to the menu, we will tweak and make better.”

As Plantwise evolves, they continue to introduce specials and unique choices. The zen roll ($8.99) plays on the art of sushi, filled to the brim with spicy kimchi, brown rice, avocado mash, zucchini noodles, arugula and carrots. The freshness of the ingredients gives it a nice crunch, while the kimchi stands out as bold and tangy.

“It’s trial and error in our own kitchen, if we like it and our family likes it, we have a good chance that other people will too,” Kambanis said.

Giving customers the option to mix and match, Plantwise offers half-and-half of a salad and bowl ($11.99). While the bowls can be on the heavier side, a salad keeps the meal light. The southern charm and masala bowl, make a dynamic duo. The chickpea masala was phenomenal. Its savory, zesty sauce mixes well with hearty kale.

The avocado quinoa salad and chili bowl is comfort food reimagined. The bean chili perfectly replicates Southern flavor, proving plant-based can still be delicious.

“Whole, plant-based foods are where we get our nutrients and vitamins from,” Kam- banis said. “We try to approach it in a calm, compassionate way. You don’t have to change your whole life and cut everything out, but just be conscious of one meal, then you’ll see the ease in it.”

Plant Wise

15 E Deer Park Rd, Dix Hills

631-486-9222

eatplantwise.com

Cuisine: Vegan
Atmosphere: Earthy and casual

Price range: Wraps: $8.75-10.99, Salads: $7.99-10.99, Bowls: $8.99-10.99
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 8:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

A Flair For The Authentic

By Sophia Ricco

sricco@longislandergroup.com

The zesty flavors of Italy get a modern twist at Piccolo Mondo Ristorante in Huntington.

The intimate eatery defies typical Italian fare with an updated menu, that takes notes from the cuisine of Northern Italy. Owner Roland Mizaku was a veterinarian in Albania. When he and his wife came to America, he worked at various Italian restaurants while she attended school.

“When she graduated and got a job, I decided I liked the restaurant business and stayed with it, knowing one day I would open my own restaurant,” Mizaku said “That was my vision for a long time.”

Mizaku opened Piccolo Mondo in 2005, renovating the interior of a former restaurant from floor to ceiling.

With Albania’s proximity to Italy, Mizaku was familiar with the country’s flavors and recipes. Piccolo Mondo’s menu channels the cuisine of Italy with “an American accent.”

“Anyone can go to an Italian restaurant and get the old classics, I want something different from today’s cuisine,” Mizaku said.

More recently, collaboration with executive chef Steven Del Lima refreshed the menu and introduced new flavor combinations. It also allows Mizaku more time to tend the front of the house.

Mizaku visits every table, often recommending dishes and wine pairings.

“We really work hard, from the kitchen to the front of the house,” Mizaku said. “I’m always here, wherever they need me, I’m there.“

The chefs’ playfulness with flavors comes out in the Mediterranean octopus a la plancha ($15) appetizer. A juicy piece of octopus at center stage is elevated by fava bean hummus and mustard vinaigrette. Flavorful enough to eat alone, they transform the octopus and potatoes.

Putting a seafood spin on a classic pasta dish, striped Maine lobster ravioli ($26) is heavenly. Ravioli squares generously stuffed with luscious lobster wear a light glaze of burro fuso, and melts in your mouth.

A bold secondi, parmesan crusted chicken piccola ($23) is a journey of tastes. A half chicken – tender inside and crispy outside — is topped with melted fontina that gives it a creamy taste of comfort. The roasted egg- plant on the side brings soft, earthy flavors.

“It takes a lot of time to make the menu,” Mizaku said. “First, we will cook the dishes and taste them for ourselves. Then we put them on the specials menu and make sure the customers like it before adding it to our menu.”

Specials debut every Friday featuring chefs’ concoctions from in-season ingredients. Recently Piccolo Mondo presented a Mediterranean flatbread ($15); rigatoni with Manila clams, chorizo and tomato-basil brodetto ($25); and pan-crisped Florida red grouper ($35).

“Everywhere does specials, but for us it’s a bit more important,” Mizaku said. “For this week, we saw the grouper was very fresh and a good price. This is why we do specials, to bring in the season and moment, for the freshest ingredients.”

Piccolo Mondo Ristorante

70 E Jericho Turnpike, Huntington

631-462-0718

piccolomondoli.com

Cuisine: Italian

Atmosphere: Lively and elegant

Appetizers: $11-17, Salads: $11-13, Primi: $20-27, Secondi: $23-43.

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 5-11 p.m.; Sunday, 4-9 p.m.

Dix Hills Diner Has It All

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The Dix Hills Diner has all the elements of a classic diner, from retro decor to a massive menu, but the restaurant sets itself apart with a focus on diverse flavors.

In the seven years since owners Peter Giannitsas and Michael Akapnitis opened Dix Hills Diner, the eatery has become a staple of the community. It serves as a meeting place for families, business partners and friends. Through a chance-meeting, the partners expressed a desire to open a diner of their own.

“His experience is very different from mine,” Akapnitis said. “He was more front-end and marketing, dealing with customers, while I was always back-of-the-house, making the food. We are a really good match, with what each of us bring to the table.”

Akapnitis had a long-history with diners, as his father owned the Brookville Diner in Nassau.

“If you don’t love being in the diner, it’s just not for you,” Akapnitis said. “I started at the age of 14, working for my dad as a busboy. Working at a diner at such a young age instills a work ethic in you. It also helps you talk to people and opens you up, because you really don’t have a choice.”

Through collaboration, they crafted an extensive selection of dishes that span from breakfast to dinner. They are constantly finding inspiration while dining out, as well as in cook books and shows.

The Dix Hills Diner does carry classic eats like buffalo wings ($11.99). Allowing customers to choose the spiciness, hot sauce and chunky bleu cheese sit on the side. The crisp wings had delicious skin and a meaty inside that came off the bone with ease.

“We put our own spin on traditional items,” Akapnitis said. “We try to keep things as authentic as we can, but at the same time, it’s the 21st-century, we gotta upgrade.”

The Dix Hills Diner offers new specials on a weekly basis. If a dish garners popularity, it will become a “staple item”. Giannitsas will often give Akapnitis ideas, then he figures out how to make it happen. The grilled chicken balsamico ($19.99) is a favorite with many customers. Fresh mozzarella oozes over chicken, spinach and mushrooms, making it a decadent delight.

“By offering the specials, we offer something unique,” Akapnitis said. “You can go to any diner and order a burger or scrambled eggs. But I think our specials menu helps us stand apart, we’re offering restaurant quality in a diner setting.”

They take pride in making food in house, ensuring all of the ingredients utilized are top-notch. The greek salad ($13.49) is a hodgepodge of Mediterranean eats featuring crumbled feta, bursting grape tomatoes, crisp cucumber and peppers, and rich black olives. But what really shines are the grape leaves. Their soft inside is perfectly seasoned and not salty.

“We buy the best quality products we can, in order to produce the best food,” Akapnitis said.

Akapnitis describes their cuisine as comfort food that many have grown attached to. The mac and cheese cheddar cheeseburger ($13.99) will make stomachs happy with fried mac and cheese bites that give it a childish feel. They find many college students return home eager to eat at the diner.

“Even though, it’s not cooked by their mom, it’s that home-cooked meal,” Akapnitis said. “It’s what they’re used to, because that’s what they grew up eating.”

Looking forward to the summer months, they plan to incorporate fresh fruit and produce into dishes and desserts. They have sweet selections like signature cheesecake or Reese’s cheesecake from Akapnitis’ collection of recipes. Like many diners, the Dix Hills Diner welcomes customers from all walks of life.

“It’s the full gamut, we attract everybody,” Akapnitis said. “I think that’s because everyone feels comfortable here.”

 

Dix Hills Diner
1800 E Jericho Turnpike, Huntington
631-499-5899
mydixhillsdiner.com

Cuisine: Comfort food
Atmosphere: Casual and retro
Appetizers: $4.49-13.99
Salads: $13.49-19.99
Sandwiches: $5.99-17.99
Entrées: $18.99-30.99

Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 6:30 a.m. - 12 a.m.; Friday-Saturday, 6:30 a.m. - 2 a.m.



SIDE DISH: Nitro-brewed Horchata… Mothers Day Dining...

Horchata, Sail Away Coffee Co.’s newest flavor coffee combines cinnamon and vanilla in a nitro cold brew coffee.

Horchata, Sail Away Coffee Co.’s newest flavor coffee combines cinnamon and vanilla in a nitro cold brew coffee.

New Coffee Flavor: Sail Away Coffee Co. has made a name for themselves selling nitrogen cold brew on tap and in cans at restaurants, stores and festivals. Owner Christopher Vetter of Melville announced last month he crafted a new flavor. His love for Mexican culture inspired him to create “horchata,” a sweet, cinnamon-vanilla drink that complements nitro cold brew well.

“Horchata is traditionally a Mexican beverage, with vanilla bean, cinnamon and rice milk,” Vetter said. “We took that same flavor profile and paired it with our coffee. So instead of rice milk, it’s coffee but the nitro-infusion gives it that creamy, velvet texture.”

Sail Away uses natural cinnamon and vanilla bean extract to flavor their signature coffee blend, a mix of Kenyan and Colombian beans. All of the Horchata cans will be locally produced at Sail Away’s brewery in Deer Park.

“It’s a small craft beverage, it’s not mass produced so we’re not adding any sort of chemicals, preservatives or additives,” Vetter said. The new flavor will be sold at stores and festivals, as well as online in bulk packages.

Mexican Mother’s Day Brunch: Besito Mexican (402 New York Avenue, Huntington) is offering a Mother’s Day Brunch Menu from 11:30 a.m.- 3 p.m., May 12. The specials include a craft cocktail called Mi Rosa or My Rose. The cocktail includes Patron roca reposado tequila, guava nectar, simple syrup, fresh squeezed lime juice and rose petal garnish. The special menu will also include a pair of entrees. The first is Enchiladas de Mariscos that features two soft corn tortillas stuffed with lobster shrimp mahi mahi and crabmeat baked in yellow bell pepper cream salsa and melted Chihuahua cheese crispy calamari. The second is Bistec Con Mole Amarillo featuring grilled New York strip steak, Oaxaca Amarillo mole and rainbow roasted pewee potatoes. In addition to the Mother’s Day specials, Besito’s regular menu will be available all day. For more information visit Besitomexican.com or call 631-549-0100.

Panna Cotta with chocolate gelato is one of the sweet dessert options on the special Mother’s Day brunch menu at Jonathan’s Restorante in Huntington village.

Panna Cotta with chocolate gelato is one of the sweet dessert options on the special Mother’s Day brunch menu at Jonathan’s Restorante in Huntington village.

Or How About Italian: Celebrate Mom at Jonathan’s Restorante (15 Wall St., Huntington) with a special Mother’s Day menu for brunch. The brunch menu will be served from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m., May 12 and will include appetizer, entrée and dessert options. The eight first course choices include: Smoked Salmon with crème fraiche, caviar and baby arugula; Baby Artichokes with romane lettuce; and Maryland Crab Cakes with frisee and apple and fennel salad. Diners looking for the breakfast side of bruch can find Homemade Waffles and French Toast on the menu. For a more savory brunch, Jonathan’s will also serve Spinach and Ricotta Raviolo with bolognese sauce or Shrimp Scampi with jasmine rice and asparagus. The dessert options include Tiramisu, Bread Pudding, Panna Cotta and Gelato.

Compiled by ConnorBeach

Eatin' Good At Eatalia

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

A feast of plenty that gives you a taste of variety can be found at Eatalia in Huntington village.

Pull up a chair and dive in to one of the many massive plates served up family-style at the Italian eatery.

Eatalia was opened in 2015 by Al Salese, owner of Junior’s Pizza in Halesite, and his partner Anthony Rombaldi. the pair made a unique splash on the village’s thriving restaurant scene. After working for 37 years in the village, Salese knew there was no shortage of restaurants, but he saw an opportunity.

“He was looking to open a new restaurant, saw that there are no family-style restaurants in Huntington village and figured that would be a good place to start,” daughter and restaurant manager Brittany Salese said.

She along with manager Vinny Groe has stepped up to assist her father as he continues to operate his Halesite business. Salese feels Junior’s is pizza-focused and quick, while Eatalia invites families and friends to sit, relax and enjoy a meal.

A signature of the Eatalia menu: every dish has a single or family portion allowing guests to get a bite for themselves or collectively share the spread.

“Family-style is cool and different because I know when I go out to eat I get such food envy. I wish I ordered what the other person did,” Salese said. “With family-style you can order a few dishes and try a little of everything. Everyone’s happy.”

There is no shortage of variety on the Eatalia menu, something Salese said was intentional. Eatalia offers an array of appetizers, salads, pizzettas, baked entrees, pasta, meats and seafood. Originally crafted by Al, who has cooked his whole career, the menu has evolved over the years through collaboration.

“We are constantly trying out new specials. If one of the specials works out and is a hit then we’ll add it permanently,” Salese said. “We’re always changing, adding new decorations and specials for food and drinks.”

Eatalia debuted lunch specials, featuring regular menu items in slightly smaller portions for $10.99. Salese found many people didn’t want a huge meal at lunch time but craved something tasty and affordable.

A classic Italian staple, the chicken marsala ($24/31) is pure comfort with a wine sauce that resembles gravy in thickness and covers the plate with a savory glaze. The thin-cut chicken is tender, boosted by the fresh, bittersweet flavor of cranberries.

Salese describes Eatalia’s flavors as traditional Italian. They feature fresh tagliatelle pasta with origins from the Emigia-Romagna and Marche regions, in a roasted pepper and pesto sauce ($22/28). Vegetarians will delight in the eggplant parmigiana ($22/28) that is cooked to just the right amount of tenderness. Eggplant is one of those foods that can turn out very right or wrong, but Eatalia handles the challenge well and serves up a saucy plate with huge pieces. A generous portion of melted mozzarella oozes with creaminess to top it off. Although, the dish may be decadent, diners will leave still feeling light.

“You’re not gonna feel heavy after eating our food,” Salese said. “The ingredients we use are all so fresh and our chefs are super lenient. They’ll tailor any dish to how you want it – take anything out, add something in – since everything’s made to order.”

For Eatalia, it’s important their food is tasty, while also being good for the body. A flavor-filled beet salad ($14/18) has bold elements that come together in a balsamic dressing. The shrimp was slightly blackened on the outside for crispness but had luscious inner meat.

“I eat here almost every day and being healthy is very important to me, since I’m a yoga teacher,” Salese said. “We want to serve our customers the food, that we would eat. That includes organic chicken, fresh veggies, and we don’t use any MSG.”

Eatalia’s interior is reminiscent of a “Nantucket-beach”, with nautical hints.

“I want people to come here and feel they are having dinner at their family member’s house,” Salese said. “I want it to feel homey, that’s why all the photographs were taken by my sister and family touches throughout.”

 

Eatalia
34 New Street, Huntington 631-629-4551
eataliafamilystyle.com

Cuisine: Italian
Atmosphere: Nautical and chic
Price range:
Appetizers: $16-24
Salads: $11-18
Pizzetta: $12-15
Entrées: $16-39
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

SIDE DISH: New Taco Joint… Bertucci’s Closed… Restaurant Week…

Mission Taco is set to open at 371 New York Avenue in Huntington village. The building was formerly home to Acacia.

Mission Taco is set to open at 371 New York Avenue in Huntington village. The building was formerly home to Acacia.

New Taco Joint: Mexican food lovers can look forward to a new taco joint in Huntington village. A sign for Mission Taco recently went up on the 371 New York Avenue building that was previously home to the restaurant and lounge Acacia. Acacia closed its doors just over a year ago after the restaurant’s liquor license expired. The club was the site of a stabbing in 2016 that left one victim hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. The space is set to reopen as a restaurant after Mission Taco took over the space in January. According to their website, Mission Taco’s menu “blends classic elements of rich authentic Mexican fare mixed with modern culinary techniques and local flavors.” The restaurant is also set to feature an extensive craft cocktail program, a rotating list of 20 craft beers, cold pressed juices and local kombucha. The décor is aimed at creating a “fun, trendy and relaxed environment” with natural wood, brick, warm colors and a 30-foot mural in the dining area. The restaurant is set to serve lunch and dinner, and will offer delivery, take out and sit down dining service

Bertucci’s on Walt Whitman Road in Melville closed its doors earlier this month.

Bertucci’s on Walt Whitman Road in Melville closed its doors earlier this month.

LI’s Last Bertucci’s Closed: The last Bertucci’s location on Long Island has closed its doors. The Italian brick-oven pizza chain announced in a statement that the location at 881 Walt Whitman Road in Melville closed earlier this month. At its peak, Bertucci’s had over 100 restaurants nationwide, including three on Long Island. However, the Massachusetts-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early 2018. The Melville location has been the last remaining Bertucci’s on Long Island for just over a year. When our Foodies visited the restaurant last January they were impressed by the brick-oven pizzas and the Pan Sautéed Mussels, or Cozze In Padella. The closure of the Melville restaurant means Bertucci’s has 57 locations in operation. Long Islanders looking for the nearest Bertucci’s brick-over pizza will have to travel to New Jersey or Connecticut.


Restaurant Week: Long Island Restaurant Week is set to kick off on April 28 and run through May 5. Praticipating restaurants will offer a special three-course, $29.95 prix-fixe menu for the entire week. The promotion was started in 2006 and is presented by the Long Island Restaurant and Hospitality Group. This year 15 restaurants from around the Town of Huntington have signed up to take part. They are: Athenian Greek Taverna; Besito Mexican; Bistro Cassis; Cafe Buenos Aires; Del Frisco’s Grille; Grassos; Honu Kitchen & Cocktails; Imperial Meat Company; Jewel; Jonathan’s Ristorante; Konoba; Mac’s Steakhouse; Matteo’s Trattoria; Piccolo Mondo; Ruvo; Ting.

 

Del Fuego Brings On The Tex Mex Heat

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

With the flavors of Texas and the fierceness of Mexican fare, Del Fuego is making its mark on Long Island.

Del Fuego serves up a variety of Tex Mex cuisine that blends the best of two cultures’ cooking. Mexican standards found on the menu are given satisfying Tex Mex twists, including quesadillas, tacos, burritos and fajitas.

First opened in St. James by DeNicola Brothers Concepts, the family-owned restaurant group that owns Ruvo in Greenlawn and Port Jefferson, they primarily focused on Italian eats before venturing “south of the border.”

“I think the brothers were looking for something different,” manager Jean Alzheimer said. “They were undecided until Joe and his brother were at a convention in Texas and went to a Tex Mex restaurant. They thought they’d give it a shot.”

Since then Del Fuego has expanded to Babylon, Patchogue and most recently, East Northport. All of the locations boast bright, colorful interiors with influences from Tex Mex culture. Many pieces were purchased at Texas auctions.

The brothers have always had a passion for going above and beyond with the vision and design of their restaurants, influenced by their artist father.

A standard at Del Fuego is freshness. Everything is made in-house daily. They even infuse their own tequila, offering a pineapple-tequila, made with fresh pineapple and rested for seven days, or spicy-tequila, infused with jalapeno, poblano and habanero peppers. The pineapple stands out in the bee’s knees ($12), a fruity concoction that is dressed up with tiny honeycombs for a fun garnish. On the spicy side, the mojito picante ($12) is quite the journey of flavors at first sip, with notes of jalapeno, lime, rum and ginger. An interesting take on the traditional margarita, the blackberry bliss ($12) incorporates the bittersweet fruit, while keeping things sour with lime juice.

“Freshness makes us stand out,” Alzheimer said. “Tex Mex is becoming more popular and to stand above the rest of them, you have to go that extra mile.”

Del Fuego hopes to be a family eatery, while also welcoming the lively and loud to watch a game. Every Thursday night, local musicians are showcased.

Any avocado fan is bound to love the traditional guacamole. It’s very fresh with a subtle kick of red onion and pico de gallo.

The turkey-chorizo chili ($10.50) is a traditional Mexican staple that gets a spin of comfort. It oozes spicy juices under a layer of melted mexican cheese.

On the other side of the cultural spectrum, the BBQ pork-filled wontons ($12.50) are sensational with a soft shell that encloses tender pulled pork topped with mango-BBQ sauce.

“They want it to be somewhere for anyone to go and that’s really what we see,” Alzheimer said. “We have different specials every day, aimed at everyone from food to alcohol. You could come with the kids or come for happy hour with coworkers.”

The expansive menu comes from a collaboration of the minds of the brothers and longtime chefs at their restaurants. Since its debut the basic menu has not changed, but Del Fuego provides innovation through lunch specials and a featured Taco of the Week.

A favorite with many, the chicken fajitas ($17.50) let guests create their own meal. Juicy chicken is complemented by sauteed peppers and onions.

Another flavorful meal, the crispy red snapper ($20.50) is a decadent delight with a rich tomato and habanero sauce covering a massive piece of fish.

Also not lacking in flavor, carne asada tacos ($17.50) layer on succulent skirt steak with traditional taco fixings.

“Some people expect Mexican food or barbecue but that’s not us,” Alzheimer said. “It can only be described as Tex Mex.”

___

Del Fuego
2519, 17 Hewitt Square, East Northport
631-651-9393
delfuegorestaurant.com

Cuisine: Tex Mex
Atmosphere: Lively and colorful
Price range:
Appetizers: $4.50-18
Salads: $6-14
Sushi bar entreés: $16-50
Entrées: $15-32
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m. - 11 p.m.; Sunday, 11:30 a.m. - 9 p.m.

SIDE DISH: Swallow Out… Dolphin Back In… Scotch For Dinner…

Jimmy Tchinnis, the chef who put small plates on Huntington’s food map, has closed Swallow in order to devote his time to Swallow East in Montauk.

Jimmy Tchinnis, the chef who put small plates on Huntington’s food map, has closed Swallow in order to devote his time to Swallow East in Montauk.

Swallow Closes: Swallow Restaurant in Huntington village closed its doors earlier this month after nearly nine years in business. Chef and owner James Tchinnis first opened Swallow at its 366 New York Avenue location in 2010 with a trendy menu of small plates and craft cocktails. Mac and Cheese with orzo, peas, bacon and asiago cream sauce, and French Onion Sliders with gruyere cheese, caramelized onions and garlic aioli were favorites on the small plates menu. In 2012 the brand expanded to include Swallow East on West Lake Drive in Montauk. A message to customers announced Swallow Restaurant in Huntington’s last weekend as April 5-7. The restaurant’s closing was attributed to the desire to “focus our attention on Swallow East.” It also said the owners of the neighboring The Paramount would be taking over the space to open their own restaurant. Stay tuned as our Foodies track the development of The Paramount’s take on dining in Huntington.

A banner on the sign of the former Golden Dolphin Diner in Huntington shows the diner’s name has been changed to the Golden Globe.

A banner on the sign of the former Golden Dolphin Diner in Huntington shows the diner’s name has been changed to the Golden Globe.

From The Dolphin To The Globe: The Golden Globe Diner has opened its doors under new management at the former home of the Golden Dolphin Diner on Main Street in Huntington village. The Golden Dolphin, a Huntington mainstay for decades, first closed in July 2017 after the state Department of Taxation and Finance seized the business over unpaid taxes. New owners reopened the diner two months later, but the restaurant closed again in January. The restaurant recently opened earlier this month with a new banner hanging over the old sign replacing the “Dolphin” in Golden Dolphin with the word Globe. The new diner is set to open at 7:30 a.m. daily. Hours of operation will run until 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and until 9:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Scotch Dinner: Del Frisco’s Grille located in the Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station is hosting a four-course scotch pairing dinner at 6:30 p.m., April 25. Each dish will feature a hand selected scotch pairing from Balvenie, Macallan, Glenlivet or Laphroaig. The first course is a Traditional Country Pâté paired with a Balvenie 12 Year scotch. The second course is Crispy Long Island Duck served with ginger, scallion, bok choy and coconut, and paired with Macallan 15 Year. Togarashi Pork Belly with dashi, watercress, chili oil, poached egg and nori will be served as the third course paired with Laphroaig 10 Year scotch. For dessert, Dark Chocolate Crème Brûlée will be paired with Glenlivet 18 Year. The scotch diner costs $150 per guest. For more information or to make reservations call 631-423-0308.

— Compiled by Connor Beach

Finnegan’s Keeping It Fresh 107 Years Later

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

With a rich history that dates to 1912, Finnegan’s of Huntington village has grown and evolved with the local community.

Originally opened by Andrew Finnegan, the Irish pub at one time spanned nearly a third of the block with cigars sold from the front and and the back housing a speakeasy. Bar goers needed a password to enter and would drink from teacups.

The bar remained a mainstay even after the end of prohibition, and through the 20th century, an assortment of owners has each left their mark.

“I’ve worked with them all,” general manager Tommy Forte said. “When Bill Finnegan sold it to Walter Pettit, he was still working Sundays at 90 years old and I worked with him. Then I worked with Rusty Petiti, Gerardi, Fiscella, and now Lessing’s, who have had it for the last 17 years.”

The Lessing’s Hospitality Group own and operate other local restaurants, including Hatch in Huntington and Sandbar in Cold Spring Harbor.

Forte’s 53 years bartending experience includes 31 at Finnegan’s. Forte prides himself on welcoming and talking to customers new and old.

“I don’t know when I’ll retire, cause I love what I’m doing,” Forte said. “I’m just gonna keep going and have fun with the people. We play games and I’ll ask trivia questions.”

The flavors of Finnegan’s are a mix of Irish comfort with a mix of other cultural cuisines for a unique flair. A dish that borrows inspiration but still has the Finnegan’s touch, the carne asada tacos ($13) start with juicy marinated steak complemented by jack cheese, salsa fresca and cilantro. It makes for a messy but satisfying bite. The crispy french fries accompanying can not be overlooked, with a surprisingly sublime outer shell.

From shepherd’s pie to a burrito bowl, the focus of any Finnegan’s dish is freshness, Forte said. Ingredient deliveries are made daily to the pub. This allows them to feature day-to-day specials, like a lobster bisque soup. The thick consistency was perfection with plenty of lobster flavor shining through.

A popular appetizer, the L.I. stuffed clams ($11) puts a savory twist on the seafood classic with bits of bacon added to the soft stuffing of clams and bread crumbs. Although, the top layer appeared burned, once it was mixed around in the shell, it added to the flavor.

Looking forward to warmer months, Finnegan’s will be updating their menu to match the summer environment with lighter plates. Customer favorites like burgers and reubens will remain, but Finnegan’s plans to boost the amount of Irish cuisine on the menu.

“All of us collaborate,” Forte said. “We have a Lessing group meeting every week, where we discuss what’s selling and not. They get ideas. We all share feedback and contribute.”

A burger that should stick around is the smokehouse burger ($16), a tempting meat masterpiece. The thick burger packs a flavorful punch, with the help of smoked cheddar, bacon, onion rings, and bbq sauce. Topped on a pretzel bun, it will make any meat-lover smile.

Forte finds his passion for bartending stems from his love of camaraderie and community.

“It’s kinda like you’re on stage here and I love it,” Forte said. “I have to read all the newspapers and keep up, cause some people wanna talk sports or politics or business, so you have to have a little knowledge of everything.”

Forte has crafted his own signature cocktail, the Big Cat ($12) named after his own nickname from high school. It’s known to “sneak up on you,” he said. The tropical refreshment blends cranberry, pineapple and orange juice with an assortment of liquors, for a light, fruity flavor.

On the weekends, Finnegan’s becomes a lively joint, especially when they host live music on the patio in the summer.

“Finnegan’s in the ‘Cheers’ of Huntington. Everybody comes here from little kids to 96-year-olds,” Forte said. “We have a great time here.”

Finnegan’s
5 Wall St, Huntington
631-423-9696
finnegansny.com
Cuisine: Irish-American
Atmosphere: Cozy and vintage
Price: Appetizers: $11-14, Soup and Salad: $8-14; Entrees: $13-18
Hours: Sunday-Thursday, noon - 11 p.m., Friday-Saturday, noon - 3 a.m.

SIDE DISH: Easter Dining… Lessing’s “Does Good”

Brunch favorites like waffles, as well as a complimentary Bloody Mary or Mimosa, will be available at Finley’s Easter Sunday Brunch Buffet.

Brunch favorites like waffles, as well as a complimentary Bloody Mary or Mimosa, will be available at Finley’s Easter Sunday Brunch Buffet.

Easter Brunch: Finley’s of Greene Street (43 Green St., Huntington) is offering a special Easter Sunday Brunch Buffet from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on April 21. The holiday brunch will feature an all you can eat buffet for $34.95 per person. Children 10 and under can eat for half price. The food options at the buffet will include waffles, pancakes, eggs, bacon and other items from Finley’s extensive brunch menu that is regularly served on Sunday mornings. In addition to the food options, a seat at the brunch table will earn you a complimentary Bloody Mary or Mimosa from the bar. Diners can have access to unlimited Bloody Marys or Mimosas for an additional $18. The buffet will be served during three seatings at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. To make a reservation for one of these times call 631-351-3440.

Jonathan’s Ristorante in Huntington village is offering a menu of dinner specials in celebration of Easter on April 21.

Jonathan’s Ristorante in Huntington village is offering a menu of dinner specials in celebration of Easter on April 21.

Or Easter Dinner: Jonathan’s Ristorante (15 Wall St., Huntington) is offering a special Easter Dinner menu from 1 p.m.-8 p.m. on April 21. The menu includes six special savory dishes and a dessert. Starters include Pancetta and Corn Chowder with shrimp or Seared Sea Scallops with celery root puree and truffle vinaigrette. Main course specials include Sweet Water Prawns served with cannellini beans served with rainbow Swiss chard, or Braised Lamb Shank with potato puree and asparagus. The dessert is a Pine Nut and Chestnut Tart with zabaglione gelato. Jonathan’s regular dinner menu will also be available on the special occasion. To make a reservation visit Jonathansristorante.com or call 631-549-0055.

Lessing’s Tries To “Do Good”: The Lessing’s Hospitality Group, which owns Finnegan’s in Huntington village and Sandbar in Cold Spring Harbor, are partnering this month with Island Harvest Food Bank for its “Do Good” initiative. Lessing’s team members donated their time to help plant and cultivate the Island Harvest Food Bank’s 1.8-acre “Giving Garden” in Brentwood on April 9. The company will also help fundraise for Island Harvest throughout the month, culminating on Earth Day, April 22, when Lessing’s will match 100 percent of the donations made to Island Harvest on Earth Day up to $5,000. Island Harvest’s mission is to help the 300,000 Long Islanders struggling with hunger and food insecurity. “Hospitality and giving back go hand in hand. Whether it be supporting a local cause close to our hearts or to our employees, cleaning the beaches, or helping those in need, it is what gives us a purpose,” Lessing’s VP Mark Lessing said. Vist Facebook.com/Lessingshospitality to make a donation during the “Do Good” campaign.