By Tes Silverman
Huntington Station has no shortage of cuisines to choose from, whether it’s American, Italian or Japanese, but if you’re looking for Cuban cuisine, then Rincon Criollo should be your next stop.
Rincon Criollo opened July 1 between Snow Haus Ski Shop and Ethan Allen on Jericho Turnpike, occupying the former location of the Pine Tree Inn. Once inside the restaurant, the first thing you will notice is a bar area with high wooden tables covered with red checkered tablecloths, as well as old photos and paintings displayed throughout the room, giving it a homey atmosphere.
This charm extends into the dining room, where the decor is similar to the bar area.
This is the second Rincon Criollo for brothers Jesus Rene and Baldo Acosta, who have owned a restaurant in Woodside, Queens, for years and expanded into Suffolk with the help of family who live in the Huntington Station area. Among them is nephew Rudy Acosta, who makes sure that diners have a great experience.
To whet your appetite, the croquetas de jamon (ham croquettes, $3) are a great appetizer because of its light, crunchy batter, which complements the richness of the ham.
For entrees, you can’t go wrong with ropa vieja (shredded flank steak in tomato sauce, $15.95) and rabo encendido (oxtail stew in red wine and tomato sauce, $15.95). The ropa vieja is slowly simmered with peppers and onions that could easily overpower the tomato sauce, but the sweetness and acidity of the sauce balance the flavors perfectly.
If you’re an adventurous diner, the rabo encendido may be for you. The oxtail stew is simmered in red wine & tomato sauce until the meat falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. The stew’s thick sauce can be a meal of its own when combined with rice and black beans. In addition to rice and beans, a side of platanos maduro frito (sweet plantains) is served with the oxtail stew, completing the meal.
If you have room after eating the delicious entrees, you can’t go wrong with Flan de Coco (coconut caramel custard, $2.50). The custard’s delicate consistency brings out the richness of the coconut caramel on top, making it irresistible to eat.
For most diners, ordering a dessert signifies the end of a meal, but not at Rincon Criollo.
According to Acosta, every adult diner receives a “present” before they leave: an after dinner drink called “Don Cellita,” or angel kiss, which consists of Creme de Cacao, evaporated milk and a cherry.
So if you want to experience authentic Cuban cuisine that’s great for diners of any age, Rincon Criollo will not disappoint.
Said Acosta: “For us, it’s not a brand. We want it to be a cultural experience.”