By Jano Tantongco
For a sumptuous meal in an intimately upscale atmosphere, look no further than Jema. The European-fusion restaurant, which is owned by renowned entrepreneur Joy Mangano and replaced Porto Vivo, hits the mark and is as warm and inviting as its cuisine is carefully crafted to bring diners to a sublime experience.
Chef Franco Sampogna carried elements of inspiration from his multicultural origins in Brazil and his culinary beginnings in France to design a menu that not only satiates fully, but also pushes the envelope.
“Of course we want to give what the customers are looking for, but we want to give them an option and try to show them our vision of things,” Sampogna said. “That’s the goal, to make people happy and make them discover new things. But, most of the things come from here.”
With special attention to locally-sourced ingredients, there’s not much in the freezer beyond ice and ice cream, according to a member of the waitstaff.
The Blue Point Oysters ($16) with hollandaise sauce and spinach are a dip into the Atlantic, bursting with freshness. The perfectly smooth oysters are complemented by a hollandaise that’s zesty, but not overpowering.
The pan seared Foie Gras ($24) with onion confit and winter vegetables is a true treat with hints of fruit and nut flavors that are a unique, slightly sweet take on the delicacy. The fig puree reduction adds a tangy similar to a balsamic dressing that balances out the dish.
The Quinoa Risotto ($18) with burgundy truffle and parmesan crisp spins the traditional dish into a lighter, deliciously creamy starter. Topped with earthy truffle, the grain of the quinoa is punctuated by a crunchy parmesan crisp that makes this plate a satisfying blend of textures.
The Shinnecock scallop carpaccio ($21) is paired with artichoke and lime caviar with a touch of olive oil. The scallops are thinly sliced, juicy and tender. Each bite pops with effervescence from the lime caviar to provide a refreshing, yet exciting appetizer.
The Shinnecock scallops ($38) with cauliflower puree, spigarello topped with Perigord Black Winter Truffle (the truffle is optional for an added $30). The scallops themselves are lightly seared and maintain a hearty chewiness. Dipped in the cauliflower puree, it’s a mixture that tastes rich, while maintaining a light feel. The spigarello adds a hint of herbal flavor that helps to ground the dish.
The Smoked Black Angus Short Rib ($36) is plated with carrots, broccoli and potato gratin. The angus is remarkably powerful in its flavor, with a deeply savory flavor that makes this entree a must-have. It’s soft and textured, making it a pleasure to slowly chew. The potato gratin is smooth and luxurious, with just enough cheese to give it enough gusto without taking away from the short rib.
The Colorado Lamb ($48) features sunchoke, beluga lentils and yogurt with cumin. The lamb penetrates into one’s palate with its aromatic, bold flavor for a delectably succulent experience. It matches well with the beluga lentils, which add a burst of nutty flavor that perfectly complements the lamb.
Shifting to dessert, the Valrhona Chocolate is plated with lightly smoked vanilla ice cream, and a salted caramel drizzle ($15). The chocolate is creamy and is topped with a crunchy top layer, making this a tactile treat. The salted caramel adds an intrigue and balances the sweetness with a hint of salt.
The Meyer Lemon confit, with lime and vodka sorbet and milk merengue ($15) is a powerfully springy dish. The sorbet avoids being overly sweet, and it’s all topped with candied rinds that add a chewy citrus burst of flavor.
And, the Valrhona chocolate lava cake with cardamom ice cream ($15) is the hallmark of decadence, with the warm chocolate cake giving way to even more gooey chocolate inside. It’s paired with the almost floral cardamom flavored ice cream to provide a pleasing contrast.
Hours: Closed Monday and Tuesday. Dinner: Wednesday-Saturday, 5:30-9:30 p.m.; Sunday, 5:30-9 p.m. Bar: Wednesday-Thursday, 5:30-11:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 5:30 p.m.-12 midnight; Sunday, 5:30-11 p.m.
7 Gerard St., Huntington village
Atmosphere: Intimate and upscale