NY Panini is still reinventing itself after a decade on Huntington's Wall Street.
By Peter Sloggatt
New York Panini is celebrating its 10th anniversary by doing what they’ve done best all along. They’re reinventing themselves.
When Joe Quirke, a retired NYPD cop from Greenlawn, and his wife, Phyllis, opened the Huntington village take-out spot a decade ago, it was under the La Bottega name. Not quite a franchise, but an independently owned part of a small chain of successful eateries, the restaurant found its groove on Wall Street with a hot-off-the-presses menu of made-to-order Panini and salad offerings that was a hit with lunchtime crowds and folks looking for a fast dinner on the go.
But the constraints of working under someone else’s rules eventually became too much and the family-owned business and its corporate parent went their separate ways, bringing about the first of several reinventions.
Under a new name, New York Panini, the storefront eatery has flourished and continually tickled and tweaked everything from its menu to the décor to way they serve your meal. And the addition of Joe and Phyliss’ son Chris to the management team a few years back has only accelerated that process.
Chris Quirke was a veteran of the food industry when he joined the team a few years back. He started as manager with the food concession at Nassau Coliseum, later helped launch Shake Shack at Citifield, and did a stint with the guys that run New York City-based Union Square Café. After leaving for Florida to attend college, Chris came home to join the family business.
He’s spiced things up, both literally and figuratively.
On the menu side, his preferences for spicy fare and a tendency to tinker with the menu offerings produced some new hits, starting with the Brooklyn ($9.95), a rustic roll stuffed with spicy hot sausage, fresh mozzarella, hot peppers and grilled red onions. Mostly a creation of “the guys in the kitchen,” the sandwich was a hit. So too were additions like the Buffalo ($11.75), comprised of chicken cutlet, bacon, fresh mozzarella, red onion, red peppers and classic buffalo sauce with ranch or blue cheese dressing. And the next big hit, “coming soon,” says Chris, will be the Fuggediboutit combining a spicy breaded cutlet, homemade spicy mayo, pepper jack cheese and sriracha peppers.
The introduction of wraps to the menu also took a happy collaborative change when, after tinkering with the sandwich contents in the kitchen, “my guy says we’re throwing it on the grill, right?” Chris said, adding that customers are enjoying the lightly grilled wraps.
The menu spans seafood, pork, beef, Italian cured meats and beef, in addition to chicken, with a healthy dose of vegetarian options as well. Fresh meats, cheeses, vegetables and sauces in tantalizing combinations on ciabata or krispina, come off the Panini press with efficiency. Nearly three dozen salad options ($6.95 to $15.95), pasta dishes made to order ($13.50 to $20.95), and appetizer favorites ($3 to $11.25) round out the menu. Family-friendly New York Panini offers a kids menu ($3.25 to $8.45) as well.
The ever-evolving restaurant recently launched a new project that extends the food day well into the night. After a few weeks of construction on the back patio area, and a few nights of soft opening, New York Panini has gone late night. From 8-11 p.m., Thursday through Saturday nights, patrons can stop by to enjoy live entertainment, beer on tap from Sand City Brewery, as well as late night snacks like the newly introduced Gnarly Fries, a basket of spicy chicken strips, Cajun fries with spicy sauce named in honor of local band Gnarly Kharma.
The band plays Aug. 4, offering a chance to have your music, and eat it too.
New York Panini: 9 Wall Street, Huntington 631-271-3540 nypanini.com
Cuisine: Fast, casual
Prices: Appetizers: $6.75-$11.95; Pastas: $13.50-20.95; Salads: $6.95 to $15.95 Panini: $8.50-$12.75