Pass from the October chill through the open facade of Ella’s, new to The Paramount in Huntington, and warmth grabs at you. Literal warmth: In the back, out of sight, is a UFO-shaped red oven that, fed with seasoned oak, rages to 800 degrees. Within minutes, it can lend a quilt of char to wings, maple-glazed carrots and rounds of pizza.
This Italian Forza Forni oven is the heart of the kitchen inside Ella’s, which has opened in the space where Swallow used to be, on the ground floor of the Paramount. Rather than a static space, it’s a nexus: A few picnic tables and gas lamps frame a facade that’s open to the busy sidewalk (at least for now), and a nondescript door in the back leads to an alley and the members-only Founders Room. In between lies Ella’s main dining room, which somehow rolls the ambience of patio, art studio, garage and lounge into one.
As with his other places, including Old Fields Barbecue in Huntington and Setauket, founding partner David Tunney has filled Ella’s with found objects and bold art, from the innards of an old piano on a wall near the bathroom to oversized prints and vintage Turkish pendant lights over the bar, with its backlit wall of bottles. The dining room is partly illuminated by strings of lights, with titanic prints of figures such as Mick Jagger pinned to plywood walls and vintage glass panes providing covid-era partitions between tables and banquettes.
It was at Old Fields in Greenlawn where Ella’s first appeared, and executive chef Koji Kakimoto first debuted Ella’s pizza- and taco-heavy menu. The former executive chef of Honu in Huntington, one-time "Chopped," contestant and brand-new dad has dropped a few things from Ella’s menu en route to Huntington — namely, tacos and fried chicken — but has also added other dishes. (Note: We will try to forgive Kakimoto from taking away some of Long Island's only birria tacos).
Thin-crust pizzas are cooked via the oven’s internal lazy susan, and among the nine pies are a margherita called Remain in the Light, a version topped with grilled peaches, arugula and ricotta and another tomato-cheese pie layered with sopressata, honey and chili oil. Starter such as maple-glazed baby carrots with vecchio cheese and crisped prosciutto, baby octopus over a white-bean purée, and wings also meet the oven’s flame.
Other apps include fingers of sweet zucchini bread topped by roasted tomatoes and puréed corn; buttermilk-soaked oyster mushrooms fried into crispy ears; and bulgogi "pinxtos" that riff on the traditional Korean beef dish via the addition of veal and pork. Among the pastas are corn-ricotta agnolotti in a sage brown butter sauce.
Nothing on Ella’s menu is over $23, with most pizzas around $19 or $20; starters are $10 to $17, the latter for a plate of shaved, funky, much-aged surryano ham from Edward’s Virginia Smokehouse. Larger plates, which are all still rather compact, fall between $15 to $23.
Ella’s cocktails occupy the robust end of the scale, combining bourbon with cold-brew coffee and dark chocolate, for instance, or rum with Aperol, almonds, egg whites and orange juice. Always trending Negra Modelo is among the draft beers, Peroni is served by the bottle and the wines, by the glass only, come in stemless stemware.
If Ella's had a masthead, it would be lengthy: The restaurant is a collaboration between Tunney and partners Rory Van Nostrand, Dominick Catoggio (who also co-owns the The Paramount), Brian Doyle, Stephen Ubertini and Jim Condron.
Ella's, ground floor of the Paramount Theater, at 364 New York Ave. In Huntington, 631-350-1804, ellasny.com. It opens for dinner at 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, and for lunch and dinner at noon on the weekends.