In theory, the last thing the restaurant hub of Huntington needs is one more Italian spot. But Bel Posto is a fine addition, worth visiting.
The new eatery, which takes over the former home of Mangiamo, Tello and, years ago, Orlando, refreshes the old place with some very good food from veteran chef Michael Ross.
Ross' recent kitchens have included the late Gabrielle's in Rockville Centre and Jedediah's in Jamesport. Here, he's mixing traditional and modern Italian dishes with clarity and restraint. The cuisine reflects the warm and unpretentious design of the dining room. Prices don't get out of hand, either, shaping a niche for Bel Posto in a very competitive downtown.
Ross prepares airy, excellent ricotta gnocchi, finished with a refreshing combination of local corn, fava beans, tomato confit and pistachio-parsley pesto. Fresh ricotta caps his farfalle in a savory pork ragu with rosemary. House-made sausage sparks the fine penne with tomato, basil and Parmesan cheese. And the light, rich lasagna is very good. You could precede a pasta with a flavorful and apropos appetizer of braised meatballs in tomato sauce, with more creamy ricotta. The openers here include a respectable selection of cheeses and cured meats, mozzarella to Gorgonzola, prosciutto to bresaola. Gorgonzola juices up a good salad headed by roasted beets, with frisée, watercress and pistachios. Standout sirloin steak comes with fingerling potatoes and charred peppers; a fine, roasted pork tenderloin with broccoli rabe and white beans. Olive oil-and-almond cake, sampled at previous Ross eateries, leads the desserts here, followed by the dependable amaretto cheesecake, gently espressoed tiramisu and assorted gelati.
The generous cuts of grilled swordfish are a little overcooked. Eggplant Parmesan: thickly cut, slightly underdone, loaded with seeds. Risotto with lobster, tomatoes, fava beans and mint has good ingredients, but they never harmonize. The mozzarella-and-prosciutto fritters are surprisingly bland and limp. Pasty, orange-infused rice pudding.
THE BOTTOM LINE
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