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.

Ting Puts The "A" In Asian Fusion

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Take your tastebuds on a journey at Ting, a restaurant putting their own twist on Asian cuisine.

The Huntington eatery has made a name for itself in over six years in business by offering an array of appetizers, soups, salads, rolls and entrees from a sushi bar and full kitchen

“We pride ourselves on the fact that we get fresh produce and fish delivered every day,” general manager Collin McGlone said. “We source it from premium quality companies, that are top-notch. They are known for maintaining the ‘cold chain’ and sourcing food responsibly and sustainably. People around here like good quality, fresh items and it does make a difference.”

The crispy rice ($13) is a highlight of the sushi appetizers. Fresh spicy tuna top the fried rice, giving it dimensional texture and flavor. A jalapeño kicked it up a notch, while harmonizing with sweet soy sauce.

With an expansive menu covering two kitchens, an order can get dynamic by mixing and matching classic cooked Asian dishes with raw sushi assortments. The B.B.Q. spare ribs ($15) come with a rich honey glaze sauce that brings out the flavor of the tender rib meat.

The wonton sushi tacos ($15) show off Ting’s fusion skills by creating a taco from fried wonton, freshly made tuna, salmon and yellowtail tartars. The fish is luxurious and flavorful.

Ting’s chefs constantly work to evolve the menu, updating it around twice a year, McGlone said. The shrimp and soba ($26) is a new entree that made its way onto the menu after being featured as a special. The green tea soba noodles were light and covered in a sweet soy glaze. Although the grilled shrimp and broccoli lay on the outside of the dish, they are far better once they are mixed in the noodles and sauce.

“We always like to add new items to the menu, based on volume and popularity,” McGlone said. “We listen to our guests, we’re big into getting feedback. We like to run specials bi-weekly, if anything stands out and we get positive feedback, we’ll add this to our regular menu. That’s how we’ve built up the menu.”

Ting offers vegetable and tofu options for any dish. The vegetable lo mein ($11) is a healthy take on the Chinese classic, filled with scallions, broccoli, asparagus and onions. The comfort of the dish remains.

“We are lucky enough to be in Huntington, a community that has rallied behind us, that demands a lot of variety,” McGlone said. “We try to cater to as many people as possible. Now, many are health conscious, for dietary or health reasons, they need gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan options, that we try to accommodate.”

Asian fusion is achieved with diversity in Ting’s kitchen. All of their chefs collaborate on the menu.

The teriyaki combo ($27) gives guests a taste of two meats. The generous portion of chicken, steak and vegetables are complemented by the savory teriyaki sauce.

“To be honest, as much as some of our food is intense and savory, y’know we use an assortment of spices and ingredients that pop out,” McGlone said. “We try to cook with a lighter hand, our food isn’t over salted and our vegetables are steamed, so they’re not mushy. We cook with a light touch.”

Glistening chandeliers and warm colors give Ting’s décor a classic feel.

“We just want to be warm and welcoming,” McGlone said. “We’re a ‘seen and be seen’ kinda place, many of our guests know each other, go to school together, the kids know each other. We’ve become kinda a staple in the community at this point.”

 

Ting
92 E Main St, Huntington
631-425-7788
tingrestaurant.com

Cuisine: Asian fusion
Atmosphere: Elegant and classy
Price range: Appetizers: $4.50-18, Salads: $6-14, Sushi bar entreés: $16-50, Entrées: $15-32.
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.; Friday, 11:30 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.; Saturday, 12:30-10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 12:30-9 p.m.

IMC Adds Saturday Brunch

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Bottles are popping and orange juice is flowing every weekend at IMC. The modern eatery known for exclusive meats wants to be your new brunch spot.

The Huntington village restaurant is owned and operated by Imperial Meat Company, a Brooklyn-based a meat distributor with 22 years in the industry that’s given them prime selection of ingredients. In just over four years, the company’s Huntington restaurant has garnered a reputation with delicious dishes for dinnertime, and recently debuted a new menu they invite brunch-goers to enjoy.

“Right when we open the doors, our mentality is that everybody is ready to give a warm welcome to anyone who comes in,” general manager Cesar Hernandez said.

The brunch menu offers a variety of items for sweet or savory cravings from the raw bar, salads and sandwiches to sharing plates and breakfast classics. For months, IMC has been collecting feedback from customers and evolving brunch dishes.

At first only serving brunch on Sunday, the morning meal has become so popular that IMC has expanded to Saturday. The bottomless drinks for two hours for $20 is what catches the attention of many diners who sip and socialize over a mimosa, bloody mary, margarita or red and white sangria. IMC is one of the only brunch spots in the area with bottomless specials.

“We want to create a different atmosphere in town, something that no one else has around,” Hernandez said. “We want people to recognize our name and know who we are, our food, our service, our environment and the type of quality we put in our dishes.”

Imperial Meat Company has incorporated their signature meat, wagyu beef, into their brunch menu, putting their twist on breakfast staples. Wagyu comes from single bred Japanese cattle that are fed a special diet and massaged everyday for peak circulation and tenderness. IMC receives shipments of meat every day that is prepared and ready for the night.

“The prices that we have on the menu, no one can compete with because we don’t buy it second or third-hand,” Hernandez said. “Everything is first choice and freshly cut that day.”

Steak n’ eggs ($24), a breakfast standard, is elevated by the wagyu skirt steak and IMC’s housemade chimichurri sauce. The soft meat melts in the mouth, while the Latin sauce kicks up the fresh flavor with hints of parsley and garlic. Accompanied by two eggs and french fries, it is a full feast. Get a taste of the rich meat by adding wagyu bacon as a side. The thick slabs of bacon are succulent and savory, sprinkled with pepper for a slightly smoked taste.

“We cut certain meats fresh, because our products we cannot let sit or age, you have to trim and prepare them right at the moment,” Hernandez said

The brunch burger ($17) is a true mix of breakfast and lunch. It has a little bit of everything, serving up a kobe beef patty topped with a fried egg. The juicy patty and egg ooze together as the burger is devoured, complemented by perfectly-cooked caramelized onions.

On the lighter side, the vegetarian hash bowl ($12) is stuffed with spinach, avocado, mushrooms, roasted corn, home fries and topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. The dish is a favorite with many brunch regulars, who the staff enjoy getting to know over time.

“The environment we create is full of life,” Hernandez said. “When you walk in, you’ll hear the music is great and lively, the staff is smiling and it all comes together for me when we establish a connection with the guest.”

During brunch IMC also offers their dinner menu to give customers even more choices, like the velvety texture of the wagyu meatballs ($12).

Hernandez said he greets every guest as if he is welcoming them into his own home.

“A lot of the time in this business, we think that when you open the door and people come in, that’s what matters, but it isn’t,” Hernandez said. “It’s about the experience and hospitality, what you can provide as a restaurant.”

IMC Restaurant
 279 Main St, Huntington
631-824-6222
imcrestaurant.com 

Cuisine: Steakhouse/brunch
Atmosphere: Chic and vibrant
Price: Raw bar: $3-60, Salads and Sandwiches: $10-17, Brunch classics: $11-24
Hours: Monday, closed; Tuesday, 4-9 p.m.; Wednesday-Thursday, 4-10 p.m.; Friday, 4-11 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Lunch With A Side of History... Taste of LI... Free Cone Day

FBI agent E.J. Connelley, center, studies a map of the Parsons estate in the 1930s. Learn about the still-unsolved murder at Huntington Historical Society’s Lunch & Learn.

FBI agent E.J. Connelley, center, studies a map of the Parsons estate in the 1930s. Learn about the still-unsolved murder at Huntington Historical Society’s Lunch & Learn.

Murder Mystery Over Lunch: The Huntington Historical Society is offering an opportunity to learn some Long Island history over lunch at Mac’s Steakhouse on Gerard Street in Huntington village. During this lunch and learn session, the historical society’s archivist Karen Martin will discuss the mysterious disappearance of New York society matron Alice Parsons. Parsons disappeared on June 9, 1937, and the case has never been solved. The FBI investigated the allegation that Parsons was kidnapped while on her way from the estate in Stony Brook where she lived with her millionaire husband to a family property in Huntington. Parsons’ body was never found, and it is not clear how or if she was kidnapped. Martin will go over the facts of the case during lunch on April 17 from noon-2 p.m. The event includes a three-course meal from Mac’s. For more information visit Huntingtonhistoricalsociety.org.

Taste of Long Island: The East Northport Chamber of Commerce is hosting the 16th annual A Taste of Long Island event at The Larkfield (507 Larkfield Road, East Northport). The event features tastings from restaurants, wineries and breweries from across Long Island. Just a few of the restaurants on this year’s list include Café Red, Del Fuego, SUR Argentinian Steakhouse, The Whales Tale Café and Pumpernickles. Attendees will be able to sample drinks from Harbor Head Brewing, Six Harbor Brewing, Po’ Boy Brewery and Fire Island Wines, just to name a few. Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Casino Contestant Barret Beyer and Hell’s Kitchen Contestant Chef Frank Bilotti are just two of the celebrity chefs slated to appear at the event. The event runs from 6:30 p.m.- 10:30 p.m., April 18. Tickets cost $75 per person and $85 at the door. All proceeds will benefit Visiting Nurse Service & Hospice of Suffolk, Inc., East Northport Chamber of Commerce, and Rotary Club of East Northport For more information or to buy tickets visit the chamber website at Eastnorthport.com.

Free Ice Cream: Don’t feel guilty eating ice cream during Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s (298 Main Street, Huntington). Teachers and principals from the Cold Spring Harbor, Huntington and South Huntington school districts will be scooping out all different flavors for charity. The event runs from noon-10 p.m., April 9, and money raised through donations at the event will benefit the Huntington-based Tri Community Youth Agency. Donations will help fund the organization’s summer program. For more information on the Tri CYA visit Tricya.org.

Roast Packs Plenty Between The Slices

By Sophia Ricco

sricco@longislandergroup.com

Lunch classics get the royal treatment at Roast Sandwich House, a shop thatstrivesfor the best and delivers with fresh ingredients.

The Melville eatery, opened in 2010 by Paul Doyle and Joseph Cordaro, was crafted with care, to take the lost art of sandwich making and put a delicious spin on it. Roast Sandwich House serves an “upscale version of what someone would eat on a daily basis.” They roast their own meats, make all dressing and sauces in-house, source fresh produce, and have fresh, locally-made bread delivered every day.

“If you want to make something the best, you gotta work really hard and put good things into it,” Doyle said.

Roast Sandwich House serves a variety of sandwiches, wraps, salads, soups and sides concocted by chef Cordaro and staff. Cordaro takes pride in flavor combinations that he has developed over the years.

A glance at the menu reveals a diversity of inspiration from various cuisines. Specialty sandwiches are packed with flavor. The corned beef Reuben ($11.99) is a classic eat taken to a new level with refreshing coleslaw and crispy beer battered onion rings. Stuffed into a marble rye roll and oozing with zesty Thousand Island dressing, there’s no shortage of tender, juicy corned beef.

A popular choice, the chicken alla vodka ($10.99), delivers a rich Italian experience on a garlic semolina hero with savory strips of breaded chicken covered in melted mozzarella and parmesan.

“It’s a lot of effort that goes into making this one item, but it puts a smile on somebody’s face and I think it’s totally worth it,” Doyle said. “We know no one else will put this time into just a sandwich, but to us, it’s not just a sandwich.”

It’s not just the sandwiches that get special treatment. Antibiotic-free chicken makes the difference in the honey BBQ grilled chicken wrap ($9.50). The tangy southwest ranch that covered the well-seasoned, supple chicken and sharp cheddar, found harmony with the crisp bacon, along with fresh avocado and romaine.

“This is the way we live our life. We always try to put good quality food in our bodies and when we feed our family,” Doyle said. “We’re really big into flavor. People may not think the quality of ingredients makes a difference, but if you tried a traditional chicken breast compared to a chicken raised antibiotic free and fed a vegetarian diet, the taste and texture is really recognizable.”

Angry turkey melt ($10.99) puts a healthy spin on a melt with lean turkey, avocado spread and tomato, plus Cajun bacon and pepper jack satisfy savory tastes. With everything made fresh to order, sandwiches can be customized.

“We want people to feel their portion of their day, when they go to lunch, is extremely enjoyable,” Doyle said. “It’s fresh, so they can feel good about what they just ate.”

Roast Sandwich House takes pride in the house-made sides that each pack a punch of flavor. One sensational side — sweet chili crispy brussels ($4.99) have an unexpected taste. The crisp brussel sprouts are saturated in a sauce that kicks. Sweet potato tater tots ($4.99) and french fries ($4.99) also shine. The taters take a sweet route and the fries having a tempting, signature sauce. For those who want to sample more, the Pick Two for $9.99, offers a half-side, half-soup, half-salad, or half-sandwich.

“Sometimes getting a large portion of a hero, might be too much for somebody,” Doyle said. “Now they have an opportunity to add a fresh salad or soup along with it.”

Roast Sandwich House opened in Hicksville and at the Nassau Coliseum two years ago. They hope to keep growing in the future.

“We just gotta roll up the sleeves, work hard and try to stay as happy as possible,” Doyle said. “I really love it here. It’s exciting and doesn’t feel like work.”

Roast Sandwich House

827 Walt Whitman Rd, Melville

631-629-4869

roastsandwichhouse.com

Cuisine: Sandwiches

Atmosphere: Casual and bright

Price: Soups: $3.99-5.49; Salads: $7.99-13.99; Sandwiches and wraps: $7.99-12.99

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m. - 8 p.m., Sunday, closed.

Wine Dinner at Jonathan’s … Eat For A Cause… Chili Cook Off…

dish_jONATHANS.jpg

TASTES OF ITALY: Jonathan’s Ristorante (15 Wall St., Huntington) will pair a five-course Italian meal with authentic Italian wines during a La Spinetta Wine Pairing Dinner on March 20. Each course in the $125 prix fixe menu will be paired with a wine from La Spinetta vineyards. The winery is headquartered in the Italian town of Castagnole delle Lanze in the Piedmont region south of Turin. Some of the dishes featured in the special menu include a second course of Carne Cruda, or steak tartare with quail egg, toast and micro salad. The third course features Ricotta Ravioli with Morel mushrooms and truffle sauce. In keeping with the flavor profiles of northwest Italy, the fourth course is Brasato al Barolo. The traditional Piedmont-style pot roast is served with celery root puree and horseradish gremolata. The last dish on the menu is Torta di Pignoli e Castagne, or pinenut and chestnut tart with sabaglione gelato. The dinner kicks off at 7 p.m., and reservations can be made by call Jonathan’s at 631-549-0055.

 Eating For A Good Cause: The Northport-East Northport Special Education PTA is enlisting the help of area restaurants to help raise money to support students with unique learning situations in the school district. A portion of money spent at different restaurants during the month of March will be donated to the Northport-East Northport SEPTA. Every Tuesday this month, Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza (6401 Jericho Tpke. Commack) will give a portion of the profits to the SEPTA, and Yogurt Fancy (737 Fort Salonga Rd., Northport) will do the same every Friday. Applebee’s (105 Veterans Memorial Hwy, Commack) will donate 10 percent of every check until 9 p.m., March 13, and between 11:30 a.m.- 11p.m., March 28 15 percent of total sales at Miller’s Ale House (88 Veterans Memorial Hwy, Commack) will be donated to the Northport-East Northport SEPTA. For more information and to find a full list of participating restaurants visit Nensepta.org.

Winners of last years Nick Demidovich Chili Cook Off celebrate at the Huntington Elks Club. This years cook off is set for March 31.

Winners of last years Nick Demidovich Chili Cook Off celebrate at the Huntington Elks Club. This years cook off is set for March 31.

Chili Cook Off: Test your chili cooking and eating skills at the seventh annual Nick Demidovich Chili Cook Off at the Huntington Elks Lodge (195 Main St., Huntington). The event is hosted by the Elks and The Nickolas Demidovich Memorial Fund, which was created to help send local boy scouts to summer camp. Last year the judges voted Kate and Jim Conquest as the best chili and the people’s choice award went to Janet Lombardo. Tickets cost $20 and include all the chili you can eat in several different categories, drink specials, a gift basket raffle and a DJ. Attendees can spend the afternoon tasting chili and deciding which is their favorite in categories ranging from most creative to spiciest. The event runs from 3 p.m.-7 p.m., March 3, and you can enter your chili or pre-purchase tickets by sending an email to Peter@PeterDemidovich.com.

Find Your Italian ‘Cornerstone’ In Greenlawn

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Drinks and conversation flowed, as bodies and delectable dishes quickly moved around Ruvo in Greenlawn, a packed eatery that pulsed with liveliness on Friday night.

The first restaurant opened by DeNicola Brothers Concept in 2001, Ruvo Restaurant and Gourmet Store has garnered a reputation for serving appetizing Italian cuisine made from scratch every day. The restaurant takes its name after a town in Southern Italy, Ruvo, where the DeNicola family lived before coming to Long Island in the early 20th century. Abstract art adorns the walls of the restaurant, created by James DeNicola Sr. representing the beauty of the Italian town.

The Greenlawn restaurant has also been referred to as Ruvo “West” since the brothers decided to open Ruvo “East” in Port Jefferson five years later. With remarkable success, the group has opened a total of eight restaurants on Long Island, including Del Fuego, NoCo and La Tavola.

The original restaurant is not only an eatery but has a gourmet market in the back that sells fresh produce, mixed salads and menu items from the restaurant. This allows diners to take a bit of the restaurant home with them. Ruvo’s menu draws from the DeNicola’s roots in Italy, but has evolved over the years.

“Certain recipes we’ve had in the family forever, like our cheesecake, marinara sauce and meatballs,” owner Joseph DeNicola said. “Then other items we’ve developed over time just messing around in the kitchen.”

A signature Italian starter, the burrata cheese for two ($19) was heavenly. The creaminess of the cheese spilled out when cut into and blended with the light drizzle of olive oil to create a rich flavor. Topped on a piece of toasted bread with bruschetta, arugula and pine nuts, is quite the combo, as the freshness of the vegetables meets the softness of the cheese.

Another interesting flavor combination, the maryland crab cakes ($13) are served with marinated beluga lentils and a chipotle-lime aioli sauce. The aioli’s flavor was unexpected but worked with the crab cakes.

Chef’s board for two ($20) features sliced meats, a selection of asiago, parmesan, and provolone cheeses, fig jam, nuts, bread, olives and sun dried tomatoes. The bountiful spread asks to be dug into, as it overflows with tasty bites. The fig jam stood out with a fresh, natural taste.

Freshness is crucial to the DeNicola family, they feel their cuisine represents “family cooking” that they would eat in their own home.

“We change the menu seasonally, because we buy local,” DeNicola said. “We have local wines, there’s great wine on Long Island.”

Each day, Ruvo’s chefs are tasked to create a special menu. Last Friday featured steak tartare ($13) and osso bucco ($34). It was a treat to try the delicacy of bone marrow, served in the hollowed bone, that had a strange texture but sweet, fatty taste.

“It gives our chefs individuality, we give them freedom and let them create,” DeNicola said. “What is on the special menu is what they chose… As much as we want to be structured, we also want our chefs to be creative.”

Ruvo offers a prix fixe menu and lunch specials, where many of their scrumptious entrees, like the N.Y. shell steak ($34) and crispy ½-duck ($30) can be found.

“We try to make it accessible to everybody,” DeNicola said. “We get a tremendous lunch traffic and we’re still serving the same quality of food, just a smaller portion.”

A menu staple, the frutti di mare ($32) with lobster tail, shrimp, clams, mussels and calamari with squid ink fettuccine, served in a spicy marinara sauce is a must for any fish lover.

Finishing off with Italian sweets, the mascarpone cheesecake and baba au rhum ($8) with dark chocolate mousse and oreo banana ice cream were luxurious and melt in the mouth.

“We try to make this place a cornerstone of Greenlawn and it has been for 20 years,” DeNicola said. “We’re not going anywhere, we’ve been around a long time and we make our food like this every day, that’s why we have the business that we do.”

 

Ruvo
63 Broadway, Greenlawn
631-261-7700
ruvorestaurant.com

Cuisine: Italian
Atmosphere: Lively and rustic
Price: Appetizers: $12-24, Salad: $7-10, Pasta: $20-32, Entrees: $20-34
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m. - 9:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m. - 10:30 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

La Piazza Puts A Spin On Italian Standards

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

ake a seat at La Piazza, an upscale urban eatery that puts their twist on Italian classics.

First opened in Plainview over 25 years ago, the restaurant brought a long history of creating tasty dishes when it opened in Melville eight years ago.

Chef Tommy Sexton and his partners deliver a sophisticated dining experience. With a background in Italian cooking and management experience from a young age, Sexton has shaped La Piazza’s menu as “modern American-Italian” with dynamic flavors.

“You don’t have to travel into the city to have a great night out and experience that style and flavors,” Sexton said.

The restaurant’s expansive menu offers a variety of pastas, salads, pizzas, meats and appetizers. An interesting take on an Italian starter, capellini cakes ($12.50), is similar in form to rice balls but deliver a richer flavor with pan fried angel hair pasta complemented by green peas, parma prosciutto, and mozzarella. The pink sauce below gave the dish a soft, creamy element that worked with the fried outer layer.

For a seafood lover, the shrimp cocktail ($17) is not only beautiful, but the lemon wedge squeezed on the jumbo “Chop House” style shrimp with a traditional cocktail sauce is a decadent delight.

La Piazza updates its menu every six months or so to introduce new plates while keeping customer favorites in play.

“We are constantly developing new dishes and putting our own spin on old-fashioned recipes,” Sexton said.

A classic wedge salad ($12) takes the word “wedge” seriously. A chunk of fresh, crisp iceberg lettuce is topped with beefsteak tomatoes, warm applewood smoked bacon and crumbled bleu cheese dressing.

Another dish delivered with greens is burrata served atop a bed of spring greens with slices of toasted baguette. The creaminess of the cheese is in harmony with the greens and balsamic dressing. It truly was heavenly how rich it was.

La Piazza also offers weekly specials, bringing back older dishes alongside new ones Sexton develops. The chicken chop parmigiana ($26) takes the Italian classic to the next level. The  parmesan-crusted chicken breast was tender and juicy, while the mozzarella oozed on top. The “Old World” Italian sauce had a wonderful taste and consistency.

La Piazza prides themselves on making everything in house from sauces to soups to desserts.

“Everything is fresh and ingredients are delivered every day,” Sexton said. “From that, we make everything from scratch. Our spaghetti is fresh, but all of our other pastas are imported from Italy.”

In May, Sexton introduced a full brunch menu at the Melville location. Although, some might not associate Italian and breakfast food together, breakfast with an Italian twist is anything but ordinary. La Piazza demonstrates that pizza really can be eaten for every meal with their uovo e prosciutto pizzette ($16). Cooked in a brick oven, the pizza is topped with melty fior di latte mozzarella, fresh eggs, prosciutto, red onion and arugula.

“It’s breakfast with a little spin,” Sexton said.

A popular order, eggs benedict ($14), hits a high note with its hollandaise sauce generously covering poached eggs, Canadian bacon and a toasted english muffin. The dish is united by its delectable flavor.

On the sweet side, La Piazza’s signature pancakes ($12) are thick, fluffy, and don’t let up on sweetness with syrup, bananas and powdered sugar. Also simple and delicious, a fresh fruit platter ($12) on skewers is accompanied by a honey-mint Greek yogurt sauce.

Finally, the brunch occasion was complete with classic refreshments, like Tito’s bloody mary ($13) or prosecco mimosa ($10). The bourbon bloody mary ($14) has a little more bite with bold flavors and crispy bacon as garnish.

“Brunch is typically a Sunday event, but I offer both days because there’s really nowhere to have breakfast around here,” Sexton said. “I feel we do very well for an Italian place.”

La Piazza
512 Walt Whitman Rd, Melville
631-425-0500
lapiazzaonline.com

 Cuisine: Italian
Atmosphere: Modern and hip
Price: Appetizers: $10.50-17, Pizza: $12-17, Pasta: $18-25, Entrees: $16-35
Hours: Sunday-Monday, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Classic Comfort Fare At Sweet Hollow Diner

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The buzz of chatter and smell of the fresh coffee filled the air, as Monday morning blues disappeared at Sweet Hollow Diner.

The lively place was packed for a weekday, and after sampling their cuisine it’s clear why customers choose it for a quick pick-me-up. Whether they’re craving breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert, Sweet Hollow Diner delights with an expansive menu that delivers on variety. Make breakfast sweet or savory, with an array of eggs, griddle specials and bagels. Or satisfy any night time appetite with an assortment of soups, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, Italian specialties, Greek delights, steak and seafood entrees, and munchies.

Sweet Hollow Diner serves up classic dishes in a family atmosphere. Children’s drawings adorn the walls of the restaurant and give the old-school establishment a youthful touch. Longtime wait staff greet regulars like family, instantly recalling names and favorite orders.

“It’s a friendly, neighborhood place, where everyone knows each other,” co-owner Chris Arvans said.

Sweet Hollow has a history of warmth and community since 1977 when Arvans’ father opened the Melville diner. He previously owned another diner in the area but jumped at the chance to purchase the location.

“He thought it was a good opportunity,” Arvans said. “This was prior to having the Marriott hotel, when the area was still developing.”

As the surrounding neighborhood grew up around them, Sweet Hollow Diner has evolved to meet the demand. Despite the chaotic scene that took over the restaurant on Monday morning, staff moved speedily like a well-oiled machine to make sure dishes came out piping hot.

Nothing says breakfast like eggs, especially when they get a fun twist on bagels and lox. The Nova Scotia lox, eggs and onions omelette ($12.95) served with toasted bagel and home fries was everything it promised and more. It turned the classic on its head with eggs being the perfect protein that brought the meal together. The lox had a wonderful, light taste that found balance with the onions.

Sweet Hollow Diner omelettes have become a favorite with many, who enjoy the diversity of fillings.

“People like the create your own omelette, where you can put whatever ingredients you want,” Arvans said. “It’s a breakfast staple.”

Another breakfast classic, Challah French toast with fresh bananas and whipped cream ($9.85) was a sweet sensation. The soft, spongy bread absorbed the thick syrup and oozed with sweetness, while the ripe bananas brought in a pure, natural flavor.

Sweet Hollow Diner uses fresh ingredients to craft their entire menu. It is important to them that everything is made in-house. Instead of purchasing turkey slices from a supplier, the restaurant cooks and slices their own.

“Everything is made on the premises from the soups to sauces,” Arvans said.  “We have an in house baker that makes fresh desserts throughout the day. It’s important for things to taste authentic.”

No detail is neglected by Sweet Hollow Diner, which hopes to deliver a delicious dining experience every time. Even a simple wrap, like the buffalo chicken wrap ($11.95) served with French fries was a smash. The loaded wrap had a heaping amount of tender buffalo chicken, that was complemented by a tangy blue cheese dressing. Crispy fries tied the meal together.

Sweet Hollow Diner delivers huge portions that often fill both a customer’s belly and a to-go box. The jumbo deluxe beef burger ($10.15) is quite the undertaking with a 5 oz. burger on a toasted bun stacked with bacon, onion rings, cheese, lettuce and tomato. The juicy burger was well cooked and superbly seasoned. Arvans describes the restaurant’s offerings as wholesome, comfort food.

“A lot of people want to have food to take home with them,” Arvans said. “I think the value is really worth it.”

 Sweet Hollow Diner
100 Broad Hollow Road, Melville
631-549-0768
sweethollowdiner.com
Cuisine: American
Atmosphere: Vintage and casual
Price: Griddle specials: $7.65-10.40, Eggs: $6.55-12.95, Sandwiches: $4.85-14.70, Entrees: $8.35-21.95, Salads: $9.95-16.95
Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 6 a.m. - 1 a.m.; Friday-Saturday, 6 a.m. - 2 a.m.