By Jano Tantongco
Serving the patrons of Huntington for 104 years, Finnegan’s Restaurant and Tap Room serves up classics in an atmosphere that spans the generations.
Manager Tommy Forte has been with Finnegan’s since 1990. As regulars walk in, he greets them with a warm smile.
“This is the Cheers of Huntington,” Forte said. “Finnegan’s just keeps on going.”
Forte, 69, been tending bar for 51 years. He began his career with Finnegan’s as a bartender, making his way up to work hand in hand with each of the pub’s five owners over the years, now in league with the Lessing family. It’s served as a de facto town hall of sorts, a place where power brokers and the common man have gathered since it was first founded in 1912.
Head Chef Anastio Marcia mans the kitchen at 5 Wall St. seven days a week, offering up a wide variety of dishes that keep patrons coming back.
The Grilled Chicken Quesadilla ($10) will almost have you wishing it was your entree. The flakey crust reminds one of a French pastry, but retains all the flavor and characteristics of the time-honored classic. Featuring the staples of guacamole and pico de gallo, it’s also drizzled with a thin sour cream that’s reminiscent of Spanish-style crema, packing each bite with creamy flavor.
Burgers must always be a top contender on any pub’s menu. The Finnegan Burger ($14) is certainly that and more. A mix of cheddar and Swiss cheese adorns the Pat LaFrieda premium ground beef, which is enveloped in a warm pretzel bun. The burger is topped with sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions, grounding its smoky tones. The horseradish mayonnaise is a highlight that adds just enough sharpness to create a truly wide range of taste.
For those opting for a sandwich, look no further than the Corned Beef Reuben ($11). It offers a tempting taste, as many reubens do, but with a buttery, crumbly corned beef that almost melts in your mouth. The contents are saddled in a marbled rye bread that adds just enough tang to bring intrigue to an already complex blend of flavors. Complemented with a robust sauerkraut, savory Swiss cheese and whole grain mustard, the sandwich will definitely please even the most ravenous reuben consumer.
To pair with any of the delectable dishes, ask for the Big Cat cocktail ($9), which bursts with pineapple undertones. But take heed, the drink is far stronger than the taste lets on. The drink was once called the “Tommy Special” after the beloved manager. Eventually, it came to be known as the Big Cat, harkening back to Forte’s Blue Devil days at Huntington High School. Despite his sizable frame, he was described as “quick as a cat” by his football coach, eventually coming to known as the Big Cat.
Visit Finnegan’s on Tuesdays from 5-10 p.m. for $4 tap beers and $6 appetizers. Or, check them out on Wine Wednesday for half-price wine bottles all day.
5 Wall St., Huntington
Atmosphere: Classic Pub
Kitchen Hours: Monday-Sunday 12 noon-10 p.m.
Bar Hours: Sunday-Thursday 12 noon-1 a.m.; Friday-Saturday 12 noon-3 a.m.