By Arielle Dollinger
Past scattered trees dressed in white lights is the entrance to Melville’s Jewel – a colorful oasis hidden within an office building whose remaining floor space is home to corporate suits.
From the three-year-old restaurant’s ceiling hang bubble-esque spheres of white and yellow and auburn. Lights behind the far wall change color – red, blue, green, white – and the yellow light of the kitchen is visible from the dining room through a glass wall.
Menu listings at Jewel are straightforward; descriptions consist of the names of several key ingredients.
Labeled simply “Crab,” the jumbo lump crab salad ($21) is served in cylindrical form. The crab salad makes up the bottom layer, beneath the green of avocado and cucumber, topped with greens.
Similarly light and fresh is the Raw Tuna Pizza ($18). The crust wears only the colors pink and green – pink for the raw tuna, and green for stripes of wasabi aioli and sprinklings of micro greens and scallions.
Not so much “heavier” as it is “heartier,” the Butternut Squash Lasagna ($24) is earthy and hearty in the way that one might expect any dish highlighting the yellow vegetable to be. The golden lasagna’s stratified layers are flavored by basil, Romano, mozzarella, ameretti and bechamel.
The Duck Breast ($34) arrives wrapped in bacon and plated with duck confit fried rice, the rice dotted with pistachios, dried fruit and tiny pieces of bacon.
Dessert options include banana cream pie in a jar – served in a tiny mason jar and topped with whipped cream and a caramel drizzle – and pistachio gelato sandwiched between slices of pistachio cake, plated alongside a tiny root beer float.
Jewel’s menu, designed by chef and owner Tom Schaudel and his kitchen partner, Michael Dean Ross, changes four times a year.
“The season really decides,” Schaudel said of what makes it onto the menu.
Portion sizes are sensible and not intimidating.
“What we tried to do was build a restaurant for Long Islanders, by Long Islanders, really,” said Schaudel, whose first restaurant venture was Huntington’s Panama Hatties. “We try and use as much local stuff as we can and represent the wineries as best we can and you know, we’re all from here.”
Schaudel started working in restaurants in 1968, as a dishwasher at a steak restaurant in Westbury. A guitar player, Schaudel would play Beatles songs as a child – and then he heard Jimi Hendrix.
“Jimi Hendrix is the reason I’m a chef,” Schaudel said. “I was chasing that ‘Foxy Lady’ tone, I kept blowing up my amplifier, my father wouldn’t give me any more money to fix it so I had to get a job; so I wound up as a dishwasher.”
The rest, he said, is “the rest.”
Jewel, by Tom Schaudel
200 Broadhollow Road (Route 11)
uisine: steak, seafood, pasta
Hours: Monday through Friday: 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Saturday: 5 p.m. - 11 p.m.; Sunday: 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.