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Barrow Food House in Aquebogue turns out high-quality fast casual fare

Newsday food writer Scott Vogel visited Barrow Food

Newsday food writer Scott Vogel visited Barrow Food House in Aquebogue to try the fried chicken thigh sandwich and learn about the couple behind this farmhouse restaurant. Credit: Randee Daddona

When a menu has this many healthy options, at what point does my repeated recommendation of its fried chicken thigh sandwich become a dereliction of duty? I thought to myself, still flush with memories of a sandwich I’d eaten just once in my life, and that was two months ago. It’s not like I hadn’t also tried and loved the green mango salad loaded with avocado, quinoa and several other things my diet is deficient in ($12), or the salad of asparagus and potatoes that Kyle Romeo had me sample ($12). And while directing people to the Island’s most delicious food is my job, I’d prefer not to have a stack of anti-cholesterol prescriptions on my conscience. At some point I really do need to stop talking about the fried chicken thigh sandwich at Barrow Food House in Aquebogue.

Today is not that day. The chicken — heavily battered, modestly seasoned — is spread liberally with a tart chili butter onto which clings just the right amount of purple cabbage slaw under a puffy brioche bun ($12). No wonder the traffic in Aquebogue is so bad.

"It actually gets worse in the fall because of the pumpkin traffic," explained chef-owner Romeo, who opened the no-reservations Barrow almost exactly two years ago with his chef-owner-wife Amanda Falcone. "Even locals who live two miles down the road don’t come to us then."

That said, the restaurant, a charmingly rebuilt 1850s farmhouse, is far from quiet in summer, or any other season. Things were even busy during the pandemic, thanks to a window that Falcone and Romeo pressed into service as a drive-through during those touchless pickup days of yore. Now it’s back to being just a window again. There’s something unexpectedly moving about that.

The couple, who happen to live in an apartment above the Barrow dining room with their four-year-old son Bennet, met some years ago when both worked at North Fork Table & Inn in Southold, Romeo’s hometown. Falcone grew up in Riverhead, although these days her father Les lives just a few minutes from the restaurant, on a six-acre farm he owns. You can see where this is going.

"In the summer we are actually able to use all the lettuce from the farm and supply the restaurant for four or five months," said Romeo. "It’s nice because it’s our own private farm. It takes a lot of cleaning of the vegetables, so it’s extra work, but it’s worth it."

Besides the salads, the payoff comes in Barrow’s fine radish and kohlrabi slaw ($5), asparagus and leek soup ($7), and supporting player roles in Barrow’s roast beef and pepperoncini sandwich ($15), as well as its one- and two-patty smashburgers ($10/$14).

"We just really wanted to do healthy, high-quality food at a fast pace," said Romeo, "and that’s what people expect from us."

Or most people, anyway. A not insignificant number of us are fine slumming with the chicken sandwich, as fast or as slow as we can get it.

Barrow Food House is at 452 Main Rd. in Aquebogue, 631-779-3379, barrowfoodhouse.com. Opening hours are Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

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