As Walt Whitman Shops has evolved from suburban mall to high-end retail hub, its dining has gotten an upgrade, too. The latest restaurant to open is Gastronomy Kitchen by Cirella’s, itself an upgrade of Cirella’s at Saks Fifth Avenue, which opened in 2004.
The old cafe, which closed last month, was carved out of the store’s accessories department and mainly served shoppers looking for a quick sandwich, soup or salad, or for chef Alan Kim’s highly regarded sushi.
The new venue, adjacent to the men’s department, is a proper restaurant serving a New American menu for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. (Kim’s sushi will still be available.) It has its very own entrance at the rear of Saks, so it can be open when the store is closed.
Dean Cirella, who with his wife, Karen, also own Cirella’s Italian-and-sushi restaurant in Melville, said that he was inspired by his surroundings. “Saks has renovated, Walt Whitman is now right up there with the Miracle Mile in Manhasset. We wanted to be a part of this.”
The Cirellas hired general manager Dennis Borysowski, formerly of Cipollini in Manhasset and Uncle Jack’s steak house in Manhattan, and chef Moulay Elmessaoudi, most recently at the Tavern at Shelter Island House. Elmessaoudi’s dinner menu features such on-trend starters as roasted marrow bone, kale and artichoke spread, burrata as well as raw shellfish and cheese and meat boards. Mains include short rib risotto, seafood cioppino, grilled Berkshire pork chop and lobster pot pie, plus “handheld” burgers and a fried chicken sandwich. Starters and sandwiches average about $15, mains hover around $30.
The lunch menu doesn’t stray too far from what it had been when Gastronomy was Cirella’s, though a few new items (hot ones like steak frites, cold ones like tuna poke) have been added.
Until Saks closes at 9 p.m., you can also access Gastronomy through the men’s department, but when the gate comes down, the volume goes up: There will be live music (and a late-night happy hour until 10 p.m.) Monday to Thursday.
Gastronomy Kitchen by Cirella’s is next to Saks at Walt Whitman Shops, 230 Walt Whitman Rd., Huntington Station, 631-350-1229.