Location: 552 North Country Rd. St. James, NY 11780
Description: Formerly the site of O's Food and Wine Bar, The tight, multiroom layout is the ... More »
Here's a restaurant so confident and convincing that you'll start using 5-5-2 as lottery numbers.
This recently was the site of O's Food and Wine Bar. The tight, multiroom layout is the same, in neutral hues, emphasizing vertical wine bottles. Sometimes, there's live music; occasionally, the earsplitting variety.
Pitré's orchestrations transcend any such interruptions, as you'd expect from the veteran of Ruvo in Greenlawn and Chop Shop in Smithtown.
They include dishes dubbed tapas that broadly expand the definition to take in small and not-so-small openers. His juicy Waygu beef sliders, on brioche with caramelized onions, manchego cheese and cornichons, are ample enough to be a disguised main course.
Also called tapas are flavor-packed, Gloucester deviled eggs, with lobster and citrus aiolo; short ribs with Boursin-fueled mashed potatoes and glazed carrots; and a hefty macaroni and cheese enriched with Maine lobster. Trailing: the comparatively bland pulled "chipotle chicken" tortilla.
You can nibble contentedly on a couple of the tapas-in-mufti while figuring out the duly designated first and second courses.
Pitré prepares an exceptional Catapano Dairy Farm ricotta gnocchi in a braised pork ragù. It's also available as a main dish. You'll be tempted to double-down. But there's very good competition from plump, meaty peekytoe crabcakes, accented with a coulis of piquillo pepper.
Seared, snowy Montauk swordfish swims in with a spin on caponata, for an excellent big plate. Black spaghetti with lobster, however, needs refreshing, maybe from a bit more pancetta, fresh mint and chilies. The shellfish is sweet; the pasta, dull.
Roasted tomato risotto with asparagus nearly compensates for it, with the salty kick of feta cheese and a boost from olive tapenade.
Brick-pressed chicken, or chicken al mattone, combines crisp skin and tender meat, all well-seasoned and paired with fingerling potatoes and garlicky spinach.
Pitré fires up a first-class, Black Angus filet mignon, tender and to the point, with a puree of Yukon Gold potatoes. It's equaled by the thick, moist Kurobuta pork chop, resting on sage risotto in a maitake-mushroom brodino. On the side, sample the truffled Parmesan pommes frites.
Top sweets are a crisp, banana spring roll, with vanilla gelato and Nutella; and a caramelized apple tart, with cinnamon gelato and almond "pesto."
Hey, you never know.