By any standard, Victor Koenig’s in Floral Park had a long run: It closed two years ago after a run of 71 years. Its replacement, a year in the making, appears built to last as well.
The Harrison opened this weekend with 80 seats, a classic American menu and a vibe somewhere between a bistro and a tavern, with a noir-looking neon sign, leather booths, an open kitchen and a menu rooted in steakhouse and gastropub territory, with dishes such as wood-fired rib-eyes, spit-roasted rotisserie chicken and a raw bar.
The head-to-toe renovation of the former Koenig’s was led by Harrison co-owners Vincent Dirico (who also owns Luigi's in New Hyde Park) and Errick Paragioudakis (who also owns Fire & Oak in Jersey City). The creative force behind the menu is executive chef Joe Dobias, a native Long Islander who honed his chops in a string of New York City restaurants, including Savoy with chef Peter Hoffman and the One Penn Plaza steakhouse Tupelo Grill. Dobias opened his first (and now closed) restaurant, JoeDoe (later, Joe and MissesDoe), in the East Village in 2008, and won $10,000 on the Food Network’s Chopped a year later. Two summers ago, Dobias and his wife, Jill Dobias, led the kitchen at Le Dock in Fair Harbor on Fire Island under owners Phil Suarez and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Dobias said his guiding ethos for The Harrison’s food was classic and approachable. “You could eat here for $20, or you could eat here for $100,” he said, and do so throughout the day. (Once fully running, The Harrison will be open from lunch through to late night, seven days a week.)
Dobias’ menu is dense with classics, from a double-stack cheeseburger and honey-chili-glazed wings to a handful of steaks, a raw bar, and both fried and rotisserie chickens, the latter burnished on a spit within view of the dining room. In bistro style, the menu lists set daily specials, from seafood stew on Wednesdays to tomahawk steaks for two on Saturdays. Appetizers ($10 to $14) include cast-iron meatballs with whipped ricotta and tomato sauce, lobster bisque and tuna-tartar tacos; the raw bar is stocked with both East and West Coast oysters (Lucky 13s from Fire Island among them) and Littleneck clams, king crab legs and lobster cocktail. The kitchen also turns out sushi rolls ($11 to $13) and a plate of buttermilk-fried chicken ($19).
Wood-fired steaks ($29 to $42) include steak frites and 16-ounce rib eye, with sides from potatoes au gratin to a broccoli-cheese casserole. Entrees ($18 to $29) travel from pappardelle Bolognese and barbecue baby back ribs to plenty of seafood, including black sea bass with creamed corn and hush puppies to lump-crab-stuffed salmon. “I’ve cooked a lot of fish since back in the day,” said Dobias, whose first industry job was in a seafood restaurant in Port Jefferson Station.
Behind the 30-seat bar are 20 taps, divided between standard-bearers and craft brews, plus a few cocktails on tap (a Manhattan kicks it off), wines on tap, plenty of bold reds by the bottle, and classic cocktails such asa negroni and a barrel-aged Old Fashioned.
In its first days, The Harrison is open for dinner from 4 p.m., with lunch and brunch being added soon. Once it’s found its sea legs, the kitchen will stay open until 1 a.m. on weekends and an adjacent takeout spot called the Little Harrison will open, serving sandwiches, coffee and other to-go items. An 80-seat private dining room can accommodate special events.
The Harrison, 86 S. Tyson Ave., Floral Park. 516-775-2682, theharrisonfp.com