Before you enter the dining room at PeraBell (which moved from a smaller spot on Main Street two years ago), you'll pass a lively bar. It may be difficult to tear yourself away from the seven flat-screen television sets and the busy taps of Greenport Harbor and Blue Point beers, especially on a Sunday night during football playoffs. And if you haven't made a reservation, you may wind up sitting in this rollicking front room, where tables are saved for walk-in customers.
But just as much energy is to be found in the roomy and comfortable dining room, presided over by a large painting of a bartender with a striking resemblance to comedian Will Arnett. The room is fitted with cozy booths and big round tables for larger parties, of which there are many.
PeraBell is a popular place for celebrating and sharing food. With loads of appealing appetizer choices, most priced at $10 or less, it's easy to go overboard. Buffalo chicken wings were fiery and addictive. Fried calamari was crackling and piping hot. The sushi purist in our party was skeptical, but the rest of us were impressed by the tuna tartare pizza, which consisted of a crust of hot and crisp griddled sushi rice topped with chilled chunks of bright pink tuna and sriracha mayonnaise. The all-around favorite was a special of sauteed pierogies sitting on top of caramelized onions, sour cream on the side. Pierogies can be heavy, but these, filled with airy mashed potatoes, seemed to float above the plate.
You could make a meal of PeraBell's starters, and I wish we had, because the main courses weren't as interesting or successful. Short ribs were a little tough, and smothered in a thick, brown and rather salty sauce. The "crispy" half chicken was a little bit flabby. Better bets were the gargantuan burger, juicy and perfectly cooked, and the well-seasoned crabcake with Old Bay mayonnaise on a brioche bun, 100 percent crab, 0 percent filler.
Lighter options exist. A generously sized baby arugula salad with strawberries, Gorgonzola and poppy seed dressing will satisfy, even if you are sitting across from someone demolishing the restaurant's bubbling hot mac and cheese.
After mountainous portions of wings and fries, the desserts, including molten chocolate cake and red velvet cheesecake, were surprisingly dainty and not terribly memorable. But at this point in the meal, as the solicitous servers packed up leftovers for tomorrow's lunch, no one was complaining.