Eclectic is the word for Holy Smoke Grill, Wantagh’s new barbecue spot. The menu runs the gamut from cheese quesadillas and tres leches cake to brisket/mozzarella sandwiches, waffle fries and, for dessert, bananas Foster.
Owner Israel Zavala, a former chef at Buckram Stables Café in Locust Valley, emigrated from El Salvador, but there are only a few traditional Central American dishes (think fried plantains and rice) on the menu. Instead you'll find sweet Italian sausage, whole chickens, ribs, shell steak and other meats are cooked South-American churrasco barbecue style, on the kitchen’s commercial churrasco rotisserie grill. Prices range from $12 for a half chicken to $18.95 for a grilled shell steak. The Low & Slow brisket and melted mozzarella sandwich goes for $8.95.
“We’re trying to do something unique, so we have a little bit of everything,” says Zavala’s daughter Monica, who welcomes guests and waits tables. Her mother, Maria, proprietor of Capricho variety store in the family’s hometown of Glen Cove, also helps out.
A number of the menu items, such as Holy Smoke’s signature bananas Foster dessert ($11.95), were suggested by restaurant co-owner Chris Laoudis, Monica Zavala said. Guests can also dig into mussels in a white wine sauce ($12.95), jumbo shrimp scampi ($16.95) and tres leches cake ($4.49). The kids menu has Disney-inspired themes (think Pluto pigs in a blanket, $6.95). Many items are also available for takeout.
The new owners have redecorated the former Tennessee Jed’s Barbecue Grille location area with faux rustic details such as chicken and pig cutouts on the walls. The half-dozen picnic-style tables are set with caddies of condiments — including green and red Tabasco sauce. The utensils are also on the table, in Mason jars.
Chef Zavala is also handy with a hammer and nails, and made the sidewalk barrel seating which should come in handy when the outdoor season heats up next year.
Holy Smoke Grill, 3357 Merrick Rd. Wantagh, 516-557-2754.