1362 Old Northern Blvd., Roslyn
AMBIENCE: Crystal chandeliers and nautical oil paintings meet stylish accents at a sceney neighborhood restaurant with a captivating menu and an elevated noise level.
ESSENTIALS: Open for lunch and dinner, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday; major credit cards and reservations accepted; indoor and outdoor seating, wheelchair accessible, street parking.
There’s a green light in the window of a storefront in Roslyn, the most visible sign for the new Gatsby’s Landing. It’s also a literary reference to a faraway light on the dock in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” — a symbol of dreams and aspirations.
Here it’s a sign that dinner is served.
Glenn and Danai Falcone opened this impressive neighborhood restaurant in August as an homage to the book, in the space that had been Bistro Citron and Salumeria Pomodoro overlooking the Roslyn duck pond. The place has enticed the crowd with tasteful décor and a menu that includes very fresh seafood starters, of-the-moment salads and pastas that haven’t hit mainstream — such as the corkscrew-shaped Sicilian busiate, tubelike paccheri from Campania, Roman tonnarelli and chitarra from Lazio.
Past the bar, walls wear the color of the sea at night, a backdrop for gilded mirrors that reflect well-dressed patrons. Ceiling art displays a stained-glass design, while across from stately leather banquettes sit sueded gray chairs inspired by the Bauhaus movement. My only quibble with such a comely space is that in a room of hard surfaces, it can get uncomfortably, deafeningly loud.
Wines by the glass are perfectly respectable with New World grapes well-represented. Beer comes from big names, and so does the booze. If you like rosé, pinot grigio, a Heineken or a Scotch and soda, this is the place.
In between the bar and most of tables lies the pass: a long table outside the kitchen window, where well-trained servers stand as a cook readies plates. This is the guy you’ll see inspect the bitter chicory salad with frisee, endive and radicchio dressed with lemon vinaigrette that I love. Or maybe he’s polishing the edge of a plate for a creamy burrata appetizer with stone fruit compote, dressed with a sprinkling of fennel pollen.
The menu is the work of executive chef Juan X. Pareja, whose dishes display experience at high-level restaurants from Alain Ducasse and Daniel Boulud. For the most part, his cooking is intriguing yet stops short of challenging, with one too many ingredients on an entree or so. But mostly, unusual ingredients and bold presentations make a diner take note — like that chicory salad that’s ahead of the kale curve, or a rustic corona bean soup that points to fall.
Let’s talk about pasta, the star of the menu, starting with the cacio e pepe, a satisfyingly simple display of Pecorino Romano with fresh ground pepper and mint. Squid ink tonnarelli has potential, studded with crabmeat, laced with saffron, sprinkled with parsley and shaved mullet bottarga. This cured fish roe is the ingredient that most intrigued me, but its pungent savoriness is lost among so many assertive flavors. Tubes of busiate dressed with heirloom tomatoes, basil and Parmigiano is a dish I’d order as long as it’s on the menu, while the chitarra alla carbonara is overwhelmed by the intense smokiness of bacon from Wisconsin-based Nueske’s.
Among entrees, brick chicken, flattened by the cooking method and with a crisp skin that protects flavorful, juicy meat, isn’t a looker but it’s delicious. Lamb chops wear a char and a rosy interior and are finished with a cherry reduction. Another entree, caramelized scallops, encircle a pile of matchsticks cut from tart apples and pickled hen-of-the-woods mushrooms. If it weren’t for a blanket of walnut butter in the bottom of the bowl, I’d be smitten.
Even with a few dissonant dishes, Gatsby’s Landing is a place to visit for its fetching décor, polished service and thoughtful cooking. As for that light in the window, green means go.