Sonoma Grill East is dishing up wings, burgers, pizzas and wraps in the renovated Chase Bank that once hosted the elegant Riverhead Project. A double-sided fireplace separates the bar and lounge from the mess-hall-like dining space. And the white tablecloths have come off.
Here, the vibe is casual, the service friendly, the menu (with no apparent connection to California’s Sonoma County) a catchall affair. Buffalo and BBQ-style wings are meaty and satisfying, but they’re fried rather than chargrilled, as stated on the menu. An ideal choice for sharing is a grandma pizza, with its vibrant tomato-basil-mozzarella topping and wholesome-tasting crust that hews between New York and Chicago styles. The kitchen also turns out a commendable Caesar salad, the romaine fresh and crisp, the dressing just creamy enough.
While smoky and juicy, a burger topped with BBQ sauce, Cheddar and onion rings is overcooked, paired with humdrum previously frozen fries. An order for eggplant parmigiana turns up with chicken instead. When the correct dish is brought, it turns out to be both oily and heavy. Weighty, as well, is the grilled house-made dough enfolding an otherwise lively blackened chicken wrap. A surprise hit is summer squash linguine, wherein the julienned vegetable stands in for pasta. Topped with marinara, olive oil and fresh mozzarella, it’s winningly light and fresh.
For dessert, a brownie sundae whose menu description tells of chocolate ice cream and chocolate chips, instead features only scoops of vanilla, sprinkles and aerosol whipped cream.
Brunch is a bit more successful. Pancakes are thin and delicate (although inexplicably crowned with whipped topping). Chicken and waffle comprises crunchy, moist fried poultry strips atop a tender waffle, everything piping hot. Yet while the menu describes a sweet sriracha mayonnaise, what shows up on the side is sriracha-spiked honey.
This newcomer, loosely affiliated with a similarly named Holtsville eatery, has potential. To realize it, though, it needs a more focused menu, one that amounts to more than just words on a page.