The new style of destination dining on Long Island reaches Oyster Bay, at an address where it did the same a generation ago.
J. Michaels Tuscan Steakhouse transforms what was the hushed Mill River Inn and, recently, flashy Serata. It's now a deluxe bastion of beef, reinforced with splashy seafood and Italian cuisine. The potent combo is heir to the upscale continentals and refined New Americans of recent decades.
This is J. Michaels, Part II. The first opened last year in Northport. As in Suffolk, where it replaced venerable La Capannina, blackboards are the elemental addition, listing the day's steaks and seafood.
Vincent P. Michaels oversees tables and kitchen, dividing his time between the two locations, where the menus are almost identical.
So, order the "new world'' lobster meatballs, in a cherry-tomato marinara; and compare them with the "old world" meatballs marinara, with onion straws and fresh ricotta. Both terrific. By now, you'll also have devoured at least one slab of toasted country bread capped with melted, sweet Gorgonzola and chopped scallion.
Colossal prawns stuffed with lump crabmeat are rich and ample, baked in a chardonnay-parsley butter sauce. Likewise the shellfish cocktails. The wedge salad offers generous amounts of Maytag blue cheese and crisp, applewood-smoked bacon.
Porterhouse steak for two is exceptionally flavorful, if not as visually dramatic as the tomahawk rib-eye for two. The New York strip and the Kansas City cut are juicy and mineral-sweet. Turf entries are buttressed by impeccably prepared seafood, from meaty, whole branzino to pan-seared scallops in a sun-dried tomato beurre blanc, and pan-seared tuna with warm lobster and broccoli raab.
Luxurious lobster macaroni-and-cheese gives equal emphasis to shellfish and pasta. All potato dishes stand out. Sauteed broccoli rabe with hot cherry peppers; and sauteed escarole with white beans do, too.
Chef Michaels' Oreo-crust, chocolate mousse pie is sensational. Coming close: Italian and American cheesecakes; and double-ganache, multilevel rainbow cookies.
The future has arrived.