Enter the month-old Il Toscano Seafood & Steak and very little seems to have changed since the former tenant, Hooks & Chops, closed abruptly in October: The owners, Kiku Mena and Ahmet Hoti, are new; so is the chef. But much of the old crew remains and except for a few tweaks, the rustic-modern décor is untouched. Per the new name, the menu now skews more Italian than New American but I have a feeling that if Mena and Hoti thought “Ganci e Braciole” would fly, they would have just translated Hooks & Chops into Italian.
The partners already own an Italian restaurant, Via Garibaldi, in White Plains, said general manager Erin Walsh. “They came in when Hooks & Chops was up for sale. They loved the décor and decided they wanted to stay with the seafood-and-steak theme — they just gave it an Italian twist.”
To run the kitchen, they drafted Brian McMenamin, a Westchester chef with a background in both Italian food and butchery. He brings a true taste of Tuscany with his ribollita di trippa — the classic Tuscan bread-based peasant soup, here made even more peasant-y by the addition of well-braised tripe. There’s Sicilian caponata (sweet-sour eggplant relish) with burrata, the Californ-italian seafood stew, cioppino and, from Emilia-Romagna, butternut squash ravioli in browned sage butter, here gussied up with roasted sea scallops and lobster. McMenamin serves up dry-aged prime steaks and a special chop made with Kurobuta pork, noted for its intramuscular fat (think Wagyu beef) and rich flavor. At dinner, most starters range between $15 and $17, pastas $26 to $36, mains $26 to $49. For lunch there is also a $26 prix fixe for appetizer and entree.
Il Toscano sprawls over two dining rooms and a bar-lounge. There’s also an outdoor patio where, on Friday nights, you can hear live music.
Il Toscano Seafood & Steak is at 6330 Jericho Tpke., Commack, 631-486-2808, iltoscanoseafoodandsteak.com