By Arielle and Mike
The menus are weighty, their textured copper-toned covers protecting lists of Italian dishes. On a rainy night, the warm light of the bar area gives way to the softly-lit dining room.
Since 2006, Almarco Italian Grill has held its spot in the heart of Huntington village’s Wall Street. Almarco is “new Italian with some traditional dishes,” said owner Mark Salese, describing the restaurant as “a cozy neighborhood restaurant.”
Food at Almarco is rooted in Italian tradition, and shines with expert preparation.
During a visit last Saturday night, Salese recommended the crab cakes. The crab cakes ($13) – perfectly cooked, golden- and orange-hued – are not on the menu. Ask for the crab cakes.
On the menu, in the appetizer section, is the Fried Calamari ($13). Light yellow in color, the calamari is crispy but not crumbly. Accompanying the calamari is a bowl of marinara sauce for dipping.
In separate conversations, Salese and waiter Matt each recommended the Almarco Pollo ($21) – a pan-seared chicken cutlet that wears roasted peppers and prosciutto underneath a layer of mozzarella and comes in a marsala wine sauce. The flavors of the chicken, prosciutto and mozzarella blend together so well that the diner barely notices the separation.
The dim lighting of the dining room does not quite do justice to the beauty of the Eggplant Rollatini ($19). Slices of eggplant are rolled to hold ricotta and mozzarella cheeses and sautéed spinach. The plate also holds linguine in marinara sauce. For the diner wary of eggplant’s unique texture, the dish and its crispy coating takes away need for worry.
While the dishes are hearty and filling, it is difficult to resist the sweets as waiters visit neighboring tables with the dessert tray.
Options include lemon cake ($6) and an Almarco favorite, the St. Joseph’s pastry ($6). The lemon cake is light and sweet, but not too sweet. The St. Joseph’s pastry, a warm and donut-like Zeppola, is filled with Cannoli cream and topped with a cherry.
Until recently, Almarco shared its space with Salese’s other Huntington venture, Junior’s Pizzeria. In the spring of 2014, Salese decided to expand Almarco’s bar area, taking over the pizza side of the restaurant. Junior’s had been open since 1982, and his family had been in the food business since 1968.
The items on Junior’s pizza and hero menu are available at Almarco for takeout and delivery. For takeout, diners can order full pies – no slices – and hero sandwiches as part of what Salese still calls “Juniors To Go.”
Almarco also offers $12 sandwich lunch specials, which include salad, a sandwich from the “Focaccias” section of the lunch menu, soup and a St. Joseph’s Pastry; and then there are the $12 pasta lunch specials, which include any half pasta with salad and dessert.