Update 9/09: Chef Tom Schaudel is no longer with this restaurant.
Chef-restaurateur Tom Schaudel is usually behind the stove Thursday to Sunday nights at a quirky little Greenport cafe that's a gelato-espresso joint by day. Catch him and you're in for some exceptional eating.
D'Latte's primary owner, Frank Purita, is on hand at all hours and is no culinary slouch - Purita and his wife, Claudia, launched Paradiso in Rockville Centre, leaving that to open the former Radici in Carle Place. Frank often pours free tastes from One Woman Wines, the Southold vineyard Claudia owns.
I stop in for gelato one afternoon, and Purita offers samples of buttery scones, tart frozen yogurt and moist carrot muffins. "Try this," he says, going from table to table.
Schaudel's dinner begins with a composed salad of silky fresh mozzarella with tomatoes that are long-roasted and crazy sweet. An arrangement of grilled asparagus, fingerling potatoes and grilled mushrooms couldn't be simpler or more ideal. I like the interplay of tangy and dulcet in balsamic-drizzled roasted black Mission figs with Gorgonzola over micro greens.
Schaudel's al dente ravioli is filled with a verdant artichoke-ricotta-fontina puree and plated in a Parmesan broth finished with the slow-roasted tomatoes. I'm equally sold on the penne with fava beans, asparagus and Pecorino - so uncluttered, so Italian. Meltingly light gnocchi with lobster and corn is a veritable paean to summer; so, too, porgy fillet over a vibrant truffled green pea puree. And if it's lusty eating you want, the spaghetti with tomatoes, fresh Sicilian tuna, olives, capers and chiles more than works.
Dinner ends with with Schaudel's signature chocolate bag (a dark chocolate sack filled with Purita's superb gelato and fresh fruit) and moist olive oil cake with roasted plums.
Seize the moment - especially at these prices. -- Reviewed by Joan Reminick, 6/24/09.