George Echeverria has starred at high-style restaurants such as Soigné in Woodmere and Amicale in Huntington Station; plus the more modest Andiamo in Mineola. None of them exist anymore, but his latest combines them.
Chef-owner Echeverria named Eric's Italian Bistro for a beloved uncle. He honors him with exemplary service and a warm approach that suits the newcomer's accessible combination of traditional and modern fare.
All this happens where L.I. Law used to practice beverage-making and socializing. Now the two dining areas are brighter and airier. The hues are sunny; the mirrors ornately framed. Some of Echeverria's dishes bring together those elements, too.
His shrimp-and-chorizo risotto combines the creamy quality of the classic with an undercurrent of heat, plus shallots, red peppers, garlic, scallions and roasted corn. It works. Echeverria turns to the more familiar with savory penne alla Norma, with eggplant, ricotta, basil and marinara; and penne alla Brooke, with broccoli rabe, ovals of sweet sausage, garlic and olive oil. Meaty, generous lasagna delivers a taste of nostalgia.
So does the hot antipasto, with flavorful shrimp scampi-style, crisp fried calamari, baked clams, and eggplant rollatine. "Italian sushi" is an artfully layered and arranged cold antipasto, with fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, eggplant and prosciutto. But mozzarella in carrozza arrives overdone. The pan-seared Maryland crabcake benefits from a warm endive salad, roasted corn and chipotle aioli.
Echeverria takes the year's ever-present fish, branzino, and playfully gives the usually mild-mannered swimmer the puttanesca treatment, with olive oil, capers, garlic, olives and tomatoes. Less exciting: herb-dusted fillet of St. Peter's fish finished with white wine, lemon, diced tomatoes, capers and jasmine rice.
The pan-roasted Black Angus filet mignon is tender and tasty, with a Gorgonzola-laced sauce Bordelaise and pommes frites. The competition comes from hanger steak alla pizzaiola. Loin of pork Milanese is a bit dry. Chicken scarpariello, however, combines the juicy bird with smoked sausage, onions, garlic, rosemary and roasted potatoes for a very satisfying main course.
With any of these, order the goat cheese-and-potato souffle, a turret of lushness followers of the chef may recall from his earlier eateries.
Desserts look sharp and invite the forks and spoons of your companions. Consider the perfectly Port-poached Bartlett pear with pecans, vanilla gelato and chocolate sauce; the deep-dish crème brûlée; tiramisu; and Italian cheesecake.
Uncle Eric must be smiling.