By Janee Law
A 26-year-old chef has brought a taste of his Cuban culture to Huntington.
Alan Gotay, of Huntington, opened his Babalu Cuban & Mediterranean Bistro on New York Avenue in the village last night, offering diners a menu focusing on high-end root vegetables, with salads, sandwiches, sharing plates, main course meals, desserts and more.
Gotay is a former professional boxer who fell in love with Huntington village during his fighting career, which included 10 pro fights at The Paramount. But he wanted to bring something new to the town, he said, so he thought “it would be a good time to get my foot in the door and make my mark before someone else does.”
Babalu’s menu features dishes like the Hemingway sandwich ($10), which presses spice-rubbed chicken thigh, roasted peppers, goat cheese, balsamic, olive oil in Ciabatta bread, and comes with a side of crunchy tostones. For a bigger dish, the Pernil ($21) offers slow-roasted pork shoulder that’s marinated overnight and served with root vegetables, white rice and black beans.
The dishes are a reflection of Gotay’s Cuban and Puerto Rican culture. He’s cooked in many Mediterranean restaurants, he said, and with the experience decided to open up a restaurant of his own.
He said he plans to start simple with the 286 New York Ave. bistro that spans 900 square feet and can seat up to 27, including two outdoor tables, but hopes to expand in the future.
“I want to have fun along the way and make it a place where people want to come and not only enjoy a good dinner, but kind of be part of an experience, an atmosphere that’s surrounded by culture and family,” Gotay said.
For today and Friday, the bistro will open at 5 p.m., only for dinner. Starting Saturday, it’ll be open 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.