By Connor Beach
In a town where restaurants often come and go, Jonathan’s Ristorante has remained a constant in Huntington village for over two decades.
Jonathan’s has been turning out delicious Northern Italian fare while constantly maintaining a delicate balance of traditional classic dishes and innovative new flavors.
This culinary balancing act happens under the watchful eye of owner Roberto Oronato, who opened Jonathan’s 24 years ago. The native Roman travels back to Italy every year for inspiration and as a way to stay in touch with his classic influences.
The food at Jonathan’s has been served out of executive chef Tito Onofre’s kitchen for the last 21 years, and manager Alex Vergara has overseen everything from menu preparation to the details of service for 10 years.
The experienced trio constantly bounce ideas off one another and strive to be the best. Oronato brings the classic Italian roots, while Vergara is always looking to build a new clientele.
“It’s a blending of the minds, and we find a happy medium,” Vergara said. “We are always trying to reinvent ourselves while still keeping the classics on the menu.”
Oronato prides himself on building a great wine list, and the restaurant’s monthly wine dinners are a perfect opportunity to try new wines paired with off-menu dishes from the kitchen.
“It’s a chance to try wines you don’t regularly drink with foods you don’t usually find on the menu,” Vergara said.
With spring and summer quickly approaching, Jonathan’s is revamping its menu to include new dishes, wines and cocktails that reflect the warmer weather.
Onofre ensures that the kitchen always turns out refined, well thought out dishes that are made with the best ingredients, and the same approach is applied to some innovative new cocktails.
Jonathan’s happy hour, Sunday to Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., features some new specials that are made with the same care as the restaurants most expensive dishes.
The Arancini ($4 during happy hour and $10 on the menu) are mushroom risotto fried rice balls served with a truffle aioli. The decadent morsels are the perfect bar snack with an addicting crunch on the outside that gives way to a rich, creamy risotto that melts in your mouth.
Also available on Jonathan’s bar menu is the Polenta Cake ($9) with sautéed mushrooms and truffle oil and the Mozzarella Caprese ($10) served with tomato and basil. The polenta cake is a perfect combination of texture from the mushrooms and the polenta, while the caprese is a classic dish that looks simple yet still provides a complex, light and fresh bite for spring.
New spring additions to Jonathan’s appetizer menu include Insalata di Cocomero ($12), a watermelon salad with mint, onions, cucumber and ricotta salata and the Burrata ($15) served with heirloom tomato, peach and crispy kale. The unique ingredients and flavors in both dishes highlight Onofre’s experience and creativity in the kitchen.
Under pasta, the Linguine Nere ($14 app, $26 main course) is a throwback that is back on the menu. The dish features squid ink linguini, shrimp, and a spicy San Marzano tomato sauce. The beautiful dish has just the right amount of spice so as not to overpower the flavor of the pasta and the shrimp.
Salmon ($28), the first of three new main courses on Jonathan’s menu, is served with a heirloom potato and string bean salad and a dill vinaigrette that adds bright spring color and flavor to the dish.
Branzino ($31) is served in a new style fried whole with a frisee, fennel and apple salad. This classic Mediterranean dish screams summer. The crispy skin from the fish compliments the light, fresh salad.
Lastly, Anatra alle More ($28) features Long Island duck breast served with farro, Brussels sprouts and blackberry sauce. The duck is perfectly cooked, and the sprouts are good enough to warrant a dish of their own.
A trip to Jonathan’s is always an opportunity to try delicious food and learn about Italian flavors from a staff whose goal has been pleasing customers for over 20 years.