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First bites: Innuendo in Pt. Washington

Appetizers at Innuendo in Port Washington include

Appetizers at Innuendo in Port Washington include "nurse hats" and fried calamari. (July 13, 2011) Newsday / Erica Marcus Photo Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus

The people behind Innuendo have set a high bar for themselves. According to the new Port Washington restaurant’s website, “Innuendo is a new concept of a world fusion that will glorify your senses …. From the moment [a patron] enters, they are transported to another world, designed to relax the mind and indulge the senses. We created Innuendo with the intention of combining international fare and gourmet quality food with a unique ambience, as well as bringing the New York City Vibe to Port Washington.”

Innuendo opened in early June in the space that used to be Big Apple BBQ (and, before that, Bad Bob’s). The owners, Reginald Chaimov and Dennis Mavashev, were investors in Big Apple BBQ and also owned Hunter’s Grill in Glen Cove, which burned down in March. The new restaurant is a basic-looking place—dining room to the left, bar to the right—except that hanging from the ceiling is a  “sculpture” that, to me, resembles a series of beehives made of Popsicle sticks.

We started out with two of the more low-key appetizers. "Nurse hats" (“tender ground veal seasoned to a perfection and stuffed in a hand made dough pocket”) seemed like little more than fried tortellini, but were perfectly acceptable. I can’t say the same for the “signature dipping sauce,” a glutinous concoction that tasted like half duck sauce, half salsa. Big rings of fried calamari, “a classic bite of the ocean,” according to the menu, were OK, though suspiciously uniform in width and diameter.

Innuendo Salad, “an unusual twist on a Greek tradition that can only be found here,” was in fact a Greek salad not as good as many I've eaten in LI diners. The vaunted “rosé wine vinaigrette dressing”  had little taste, the shredded feta lacked that cheese’s distinctive brininess, the sprinkling of Armenian basturma (cured beef) provided little interest.

 “Eastern BBQ Lamb Spare Ribs”  turned out to be loin chops, severely overcooked and coated in a sweet sauce. They didn’t taste as if they had been “slowly grilled to contribute to [their] perfect juicy bite.”

On the upside, servers were brisk and friendly. Prices were reasonable and portions generous. Appetizers and salads come in two sizes, "tapas" and "plate." Most of the former run between $7 and $8 and are more than enough for two. Our three lamb chops were $24.95. 

If Innuendo eased up some of its extravagant claims and concentrated on being a Port Washington restaurant that served good food, it might do just fine.

Innuendo Bar and Restaurant is at 75 Main St., Port Washington, 516-439-4444.

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