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Graceful Rose review

Braised short ribs are ample and excellent at

Braised short ribs are ample and excellent at Graceful Rose in Port Jefferson. (Jan. 17, 2014) Credit: Daniel Brennan

Graceful Rose is blooming, but very slowly.

The water-view restaurant, which opened in summer 2012, has undergone some pruning and reseeding since starting as a continental-American spot.

But the grandiose restaurant's sweet history really began when earnest owners Richard and Mary Morrison won $165 million in the Mega Millions lottery in 2010. It was named for Mr. Morrison's grandmother, Grace; and his mother, Rose. And their portraits are above the stairway.

The restaurant's decor includes crystal chandeliers, a colorful fish tank and a heavyweight, amethyst construct cut and positioned to evoke angels' wings. Roses are painted on tall columns. White-rose sculptures appear here and there. A fresh rose is on every table.

And now running the kitchen is Massimo Fedozzi, whose Italian cooking at the departed Palio in Jericho and Vero in Amityville received high ratings in Newsday.

It is a restaurant you want to like.

But, despite all this heart and talent, the results often remain mixed, beginning with service. During recent visits, for example, one waiter defined incompetence; another, professionalism. Hope you get Jerry.

Your best dining strategy is to be even more risk-averse than the menu. Choose the fine shrimp cocktail instead of overdone grilled shrimp with a pineapple compote. Pick glistening tuna tartare rather than dull crabcakes with chipotle-orange sauce. Skip bland, wild mushroom-and-shrimp dumplings in favor of lightly breaded baked clams. An exception: the pale but flavorful lobster bisque, generous with shellfish.

The top main course is a 60-ounce porterhouse for two, juicy and good on both sides of the bone. What's billed as a T-bone arrives more like an upside-down "L," with no tenderloin. Filet mignon by itself is very good. A double-cut pork chop shows up tender here, chewy there. But the braised short ribs are ample and excellent. So are creamed spinach and grilled asparagus, but not the tower of flavor-free onion rings.

Pollo Giovanni is overorchestrated, the chicken festooned with prosciutto, roasted peppers, mozzarella, and doused with a butter, lemon and wine sauce, all distracting from the bird. Underseasoned linguine with clams adds broccoli florets, which dominate the dish. Seaside, try pan-seared scallops Dawn Marie, in a satisfying lobster sauce.

Oversize desserts take in a huge wedge of tasty carrot cake; a solid, five-layer chocolate cake; and fruity bread pudding.

You may linger a bit because of the setting and the sentiment. But you'll leave recalling that most roses start to grow in spring.

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