Char Grille Fills Restaurant Niche

With its green-black marble-esque floors and wooden accents, Huntington village’s newly-opened Char Grille brings to the area both char-grilled meat and a Manhattan-style meeting place.

Before it was Char, the space on Clinton Avenue was BlonDee’s Bistro & Bar. Twenty-somethings Frank Bono, Tom Pescuma and Louis Barresi kept an eye on the restaurant as owners of its neighbor: Doppio Artisan Bistro.

According to Bono, the three planned to open a new restaurant if the space ever became available. And then it did.

“We go out to eat a lot, my partner Tom and I, around Huntington; and we knew what was missing,” Bono said. “We’re always looking for a place like this.”

The steaks are prime and grass-fed; the chef came from Blackstone Steakhouse in Melville. But the “American grille” name gives the restaurant flexibility in what it can serve, Bono said, citing the tuna tartare, the pork belly, and the braised short ribs.

The shrimp cocktail appetizer ($17) features three large, pink shrimp resting on an arrangement of diced avocado, halved red and yellow cherry tomatoes and cut peaches.

The Mac & Cheese ($16), made with three cheeses, bone marrow and pork belly, is as close to perfect as is possible.

The sliders ($14), plated in groups of three, are one component of the menu’s “Burger Bar” section, which also offers such options as the bison burger ($16) and chicken breast ($14). Six cheeses and four toppings, each $1.50 extra, allow diners to custom-order their burgers. There are also six sauce options: red pepper mayo, spicy mayo, lobster sauce, bbq, chimichurri and demi.

Those who would rather order already-constructed menu items have choices like the Char Burger – house-smoked slab bacon, caramelized onion, charred sweet pepper and gruyere cheese on a brioche bun ($17) – and the Crab Cake Sandwich ($19).

Garnished with purple flowers and decorated with honey glaze, fennel salad, orange, baby carrots, chickpea puree and a citrus crab butter sauce, the Scottish Salmon ($31) is plated as if it were a work of contemporary art.

Reminiscent of its neighboring Italian relative, Doppio, Char Grille offers pasta entrees, as well.

The Corn Ravioli ($24), served with seasonal vegetables, butter cream and lobster foam, is both the color and taste of summer sunshine.

As of last Friday, the dessert menu was not out yet, but Char was serving gelato – $10 for three scoops of flavors selected from a list including pistachio, salted caramel and chocolate peanut butter.

Bordering the Gerard Street parking lot, where construction has closed off more than half the lot, Char Grille is a reason to ignore the giant yellow machines, find a parking space and walk around the detour.

“I’d like to remain optimistic, but I’ve seen that [the construction has] affected Doppio a little bit,” Bono said. “Nobody wants to sit outside during the day, even on a gorgeous day, because, you know, the dust, the cranes and this and that… It’s definitely an eyesore.”

But Char Grille’s doors are open, and even amidst the hum of heavy machinery, passersby curiously peek at the dishes of outdoor diners and through the wooden-framed double doors.