What did the Italian ambassador to Jamaica like to eat? Or the former Prime Minister? How about LL Cool J?
Chef Ray Wilson knows, because during his 28 years on the line he’s cooked for all of them (he was the ambassador’s personal chef), as well as for scores of Long Islanders at Jo Jo Apples in Point Lookout and various East End eateries. Wilson draws on that eclectic experience for his new spot, Daffodils International Cuisine, which opened recently on Jerusalem Avenue in North Bellmore.
The chef-owner doesn’t get much time off: He’s cooking up breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week at moderate prices. Yet Daffodils’ menu offers plenty of room for self-expression. At breakfast, egg sandwiches and frittatas are joined by pineapple pancakes and garlic-kale and tomato eggs Benedict; during lunch and dinner, grilled panini, steaks, and burgers appear alongside broiled basa filets with roasted-tomato coulis, mussels in a coconut-cream broth, and an entire submenu of “Caribbean-style pasta” such as linguine conch and jerk pasta.
Fusion is nothing new inside the 42-seat space. It’s the former home of Lemongrass, which served Japanese and Thai cuisine until it closed late last year. Yet Daffodils’ wide-ranging menu almost didn’t come to be. “My husband’s original menu was 90 percent Italian,” said CarolAnn Wilson, the chef’s wife and partner in the restaurant. Early on in her husband’s career, Wilson said, the chef also cut his culinary chops at Evita’s, a renowned Italian restaurant in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, where seafood-heavy pasta dishes anchor the menu.
But with Gino’s Pizzeria sharing the same North Bellmore strip mall, the Wilsons reworked the fare to include a more diverse range of flavors, from baked salmon with furikake seasoning to spicy escovitch (a variation of ceviche) over tilapia. Diners can chase the spice with a full range of cocktails, beer, and wine.
2819 Jerusalem Ave., North Bellmore, 516-900-1668