By Jano Tantongco
Not far from the shores of Huntington Harbor, The Shamrock Restaurant and Bar carries over a decades old tradition adapted for the ever frenetic pace of pub culture.
Stepping inside, one of the first things patrons may notice are the bar paraphernalia decorations that span time. Tap handles and bottles serve as reminders of every drink they’ve ever carried, and one may wonder if they’ll eventually run out of space going forward.
Portraits of local dignitaries of all sorts, including then-Congressional candidate Thomas Suozzi, are a testament to Shamrock’s status as a local community center. Offering up pool, arcade games, lotto and even Off-Track Betting, it’s no wonder that some regulars have frequented the pub for over three decades.
Co-owner Kevin Morrison recounted the bar’s opening on May 7, 1979. Shortly after opening, the bar started serving food, a small lunch menu at first. He remembered when Huntington was “packed with bars,” and the Shamrock has stood the test of time with what Morrison describes as a “light atmosphere” and an ability to adapt to changing trends, while keeping its core values.
“You got to change your colors every once in a while,” Morrison said. “Just come in, relax and get away from the world.”
Co-owner and Morrison’s son-in-law Joe Russo was born the same year, and he would eventually come aboard as the bar’s chef. Starting in high school, Russo came by the Shamrock to learn cuisinal basics from Morrison, which would eventually blossom to form its now broad menu.
“He showed me how to cook, showed me the kitchen. From then, I was addicted to cooking,” Russo said.
For starters, the Fried Pork Dragon Wings ($16) are sauteed in a sweet and tangy dragon sauce that packs immense flavor. Pairing perfectly with the pub’s Shamrock draft beer, the wings are just slightly crunchy, giving way to a supple, meaty interior.
The Steamed Clams ($15) serve up Little Neck clams in a garlic broth with a mix of herbs. Paired with garlic bread toast, the dish puts forth garlic as its mainstay, but avoids overpowering, leaving a powerful finish for the chewy clams. Occasional pops of lemon accent provide an underlying hint of zest.
No pub would be complete without Chicken Wings ($15), and Shamrock’s are not only sizable, but packed full of flavor. The medium hot sauce brings a steady heat that lingers, producing a warm kick with each bite.
The Johnathon’s Pan Fried Chicken and Mac ($12) brings together four cheeses, truffle oil, topped with lightly breaded, panko crusted fried chicken. The blend of monterey jack, cheddar, mozzarella and pecorino prove to be a winning combination of savory and creamy cheeses that are made even richer with the truffle infusion. The chicken itself is generously cut and adds crispness with each spoonful.
The Shrimp and Clams Chop Chop ($21) brings together whole Little Neck clams, sauteed with garlic, plum tomatoes, escarole, tossed with linguini and pecorino cheese. Fitting for this seaside establishment, this dish takes a turn from normal pub offerings for a lighter, yet deeply satisfying seafood plate. The shrimp and clams are cooked to perfection, yielding a texture that absorbs the swirl of flavors from their companions.
Going back to basics, the All American Burger ($10) comes with fries, onion rings, coleslaw or potato salad. Served medium, the beef is remarkably flavorful, delicately tender and juicy. The fries were also richly seasoned, making this classic barside treat that much more robust.
Among their variety of tacos, are the Korean Steak or Fish Tacos ($16) which include marinated steak or fish, topped with pickled Asian slaw on grilled corn tortillas with a choice of side. Also served, are the Baja Fish Tacos ($16), also served on a corn tortilla with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole and sour cream for a traditionally tasty taco. The tortillas taste authentic, with an earthy corn flavor. The steak shines through with a teriyaki flavor that brings together sweet and savory.
Cuisine: Pub classics with modern twists
Atmosphere: Casual and relaxed
Price: Modest to moderate
Hours: Seven days a week, 11 a.m.-4 a.m.
The Shamrock Restaurant and Bar
138 New York Ave., Halesite