The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.
For a few weeks last June, the little free-standing building at the corner of Jericho Turnpike and 6th Avenue in New Hyde Park was serving some of Long Islands most authentic Roman cuisine. But Testaccio at the Gardens lasted barely a month. Now the venue has reopened under new management as Vintage Restaurant Bar and Lounge. (Vintage, as it happens, was the name of this place for about a year, before Testaccio. It is also the name of another restaurant on Jericho Turnpike: Vintage Bar & Grill in Jericho. Shades of the ubiquitous Piccolo.)
The new Vintage is run by Michael Imbriano, an industry veteran who, for many years, ran the food-service operation at the Nassau County Bar Association in Mineola. (The restaurant is a partnership between Imbriano and Michael and Judith Stines.) There are two chefs in the kitchen, Michael Baratto (formerly of Mill River Inn, Oyster Bay) and Giuseppe Capobianco (formerly of Cafe Picasso, Syosset).
The restaurant opened almost a month ago and, on a recent visit, I found it a friendly, likable place. The cuisine is a now-familiar blend of Italian and steakhouse with some New American touches such as nut-crusted goat cheese salad and sesame-crusted tuna. My pals baked clams were very good, but my octopus had been overpoached into sponginess before being grilled and, unfortunately, sliced. Chefs, dont cut up the tentacle!
My pork chop redeemed the octopus. It was enviably juicy, a perfect medium-rare, and was garnished with hot (really hot) peppers, mushrooms and roast potatoes. Another main dish, bucatini allAmatrciana, was more problematic. The oniony sauce was delicious, but there was way too much of it. More troubling, the pasta was overcooked.
What we enjoyed most about our meal was the service. David Moore, the floor manager, clearly had a lot of experience in addition to natural charm. The servers were less practiced at the fine-dining game, but had obviously been trained within every inch of their lives and were unfailingly attentive and accommodating.
Vintage Restaurant Bar and Lounge is at 2232 Jericho Tpke., New Hyde Park, 516-502-6900. Open for lunch and dinner Monday to Saturday; dinner on Sunday.
The pork chop at Vintage in New Hyde Park