In a move that may reflect Glen Cove's shifting demographics, the Glen Cove Italian restaurant Vivo Osteria has added chicharonnes, Colombian-style burgers and other Latin dishes to its menu.
When Emanuel Benitez and his wife, Tatyana Benitez, took over Vivo Osteria last summer, they initially kept the Italian-food focus intact, but wove a few tapas onto the menu. "Since then, we had lot of people come in and say, 'Can you add more Colombian food?” said Tatyana Benitez, who manages the front of house, while her chef-husband leads the kitchen. (Tatyana Benitez is from Colombia, while her husband is a Long Island native whose family has Colombian roots).
Their retooled menu is a Latin-Italian mashup that keeps mainstays like pizza and parmigiana, but introduces small bites ($4 to $12) such as Colombian-style empanadas — made with cornmeal instead of flour — arepas, yucca fries and prawn ceviche. The super-crisp fried pork belly chicharron is offered two ways, as an appetizer with lime chimichurri and on a mixed grill platter that also stars skirt steak, pork loin, chorizo, plantains and yucca fries, for $28. The franks-and-fried potatoes plate known as salchipapa also makes an appearance, albeit with sliced kielbasa.
Those craving a Colombian-style burger will find one here topped with a fried egg, bacon, mozzarella and potato sticks, plus lettuce, tomato and various sauces ($20), pretty much guaranteeing you won't need to eat again for many hours. Among the continental-style fare remaining on the menu is a double-cut pork chop with broccoli rabe and roasted potatoes for $24.
Tatyana Benitez said the restaurant has also been renovated to reflect its new vibe, with a larger bar, a mural on one wall and student artwork in the backroom.
Emanuel Benitez graduated from Suffolk County Community College Culinary School in Riverhead and has deep experience in both catering and airline food service; he is the former halal chef for Emirates, Royal Morocco, EgyptAir and Etihad airlines.
42 Glen Cove Ave., Glen Cove, 516-801-1450, vivoosteria.com