By Danny & Betty
At Ruvo Restaurant, local isn’t a buzz word – it’s a way of life.
Everything is made fresh – whether it be salad dressings, desserts, sauces or soups, it’s all made from scratch.
“It’s easy to buy soup in a bag – we don’t,” owner Joe DeNicola explained.
Among the original “localvores” who embraced farm-to-plate dining, the folks at Ruvo in Greenlawn are still delightfully obsessive about local cuisine – that means ingredients sourced within 100 miles of your plate. For instance, their clams come from Billy Smith, who lives up the block from them on Smith Street and clams in Huntington Harbor.
Since opening its doors in December 2001 – they’ve since opened a second in Port Jefferson – Ruvo, named after the region of Italy DeNicola’s family hails from, is a family affair. Brothers Joe, Jimmy and Leo own the restaurant. The artwork of their late father, Jim Sr., populates the walls, many of them landscapes of scenes from back home in Ruvo, located between Bari and Naples.
Chef Wilmer Bedoya, who stepped in as Ruvo’s chef after Joe stepped aside – continues the restaurant’s overall focus on country Italian cooking in his fall menu, marrying the classics and cutting-edge fare.
Joe started us off with something old and something new. The old would be Chicken Liver Crostini ($8), which will delight old souls everywhere as he takes his grandma’s chicken liver recipe, kicks it up with a little red pepper and piles it atop crisp crostini and finishes it off with chopped red onion, dried cranberries and pistachios.
The new – Long Island Clam Flatbread ($12), featuring Billy Smith’s Huntington clams – is, in a word, divine; a spicy, sweet flavor explosion of crispy bacon, red chilis, wild oregano Fontina and olive oil. Brussels sprouts are put to creative use in Mache & Tart Apple salad ($9), a balanced pairing accented by gorgonzola, candied pecans and citrus vinaigrette.
If you’re doing Italian, you must excel at pasta. Cavatelli & Lobster ($28) is a Ruvo classic, and for good reason. The pairing of spinach, white beans, al dente pasta and tender sweet claw meat makes for a splendid plate.
Heartier fare excels as well. Classic, thin-pounded Veal Scaloppini ($28) will delight traditionalists with no-fooling fork-tender veal, artichokes, pancetta, spinach and spaghetti in a lemon-pinot grigio sauce. Melt-in-your-mouth molasses-braised Beef Short Ribs ($28) are a sweet treat, accented with onion rings and bright, yet not overwhelming, horseradish mashed potatoes. Shrimp & Scallops ($29) shines – the sweet scallops and perfectly grilled shrimp stand out atop delicate risotto perfected by a tomato-saffron broth.
Dessert ($7) harkens to tradition as well. Grandma’s Mascarpone Cheesecake is smooth as silk and accented by a honey graham cracker crust and a tart vin santo berry coulis. Semi-sweet Valrhona Chocolate Mousse Cake is decadent, and piping-hot Nutella bread budding, paired with caramelized bananas, is crowned in vanilla bean ice cream.
Be sure to visit Ruvo from 4-7 p.m. for happy hour at the bar; it’s a great chance to dig into the deep wine list (20 reds and 10 whites by the glass) at half-off prices. There’s also live music Friday and Saturday nights.
And in the off chance that the homey trappings full of unfinished wood and stained glass make you want to move in, fear not – you can bring Ruvo home with you thanks to the market around the corner.
63 Broadway, Greenlawn