Chefs 724, the newest restaurant on Austin Boulevard in Island Park, almost didn’t come to be.
When longtime chef and caterer David Farahat took over the space where La Rioja used to be — gutting the kitchen and redesigning the dining room — he intended to create a venue for weddings, showers and other private events.
“Everyone told me I was building a restaurant. But I didn’t want a restaurant,” said Farahat, who has long run two catering companies — David Josephs Catering and Chefs Extraordinaire — with his brother, Joseph. “Then I sat down and looked at what I had created and thought, ‘Oh my God, I built a restaurant. Now I have to go home and start creating menus.’ At first, I went too crazy because I am a chef.”
Though the Farahats are both CIA-trained and have catered high-end New York City events for years, David Farahat hoped to create a comparatively down-to-earth menu at Chefs 724. “I wanted a family-oriented restaurant, where people could come in T-shirts, have a great meal and not have to spend much money.”
Farahat named the 70-seat restaurant, which he also co-owns with his brother, for the 24/7 nature of restaurant work. It opened in March with a menu that mines American and Italian-American classics, including a $14 bacon cheeseburger, $9 pizzas, pastas ranging from $16 to $22 and a handful of entrees topping out at $31, for filet mignon.
“Our biggest seller is the short ribs,” said Farahat, who braises them for six hours before “soaking them in [red wine] demi glacé” and plating the meat over mashed potatoes ($23).
Diners should not pass up dessert. Farahat is a trained pastry chef and has worked at the likes of The River Café in Brooklyn and the Garden City Hotel, where he was executive chef in the early 1990s. Chefs 724’s desserts, most costing $8, range from a chocolate pot de crème to a honey-soaked semolina cake. If you prefer calories in liquid form, Chefs 724 has a full bar with wine, beer and cocktails.
The restaurant is open for dinner only Wednesday through Sunday.
Chefs 724, 4409 Austin Blvd., Island Park, 516-867-0700, chefs724.com