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NYC Italian restaurant Lasagna Ristorante opens location in Huntington

Eggplant lasagna is one of seven variations of

Eggplant lasagna is one of seven variations of the dish on the menu at the aptly named Lasagna Ristorante in Huntington. Credit: Newsday/Corin Hirsch

There's not much guesswork involved with a restaurant named Lasagna, but there is quite a bit of mystery (and marinara).

The restaurant opened on Huntington's New York Ave. in August in the space where Riley's used to be, during steamy summer weather, but the restaurant's owners are confident it will find its niche: Lasagna's parent restaurant in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood has operated continuously for 28 years — through recessions, blackouts, storms and COVID, proving the resiliency and magnetism of pasta al forno.

The Huntington spot is run by two friends, one of whom (Nourey Lhajii) long urged the other to open a place on Long Island. "We grew up together," said Lhajii of he and his partner, Adam Honig. It was Honig's father, Nathan Honig, who founded the original Lasagna in 1993 using his own recipes, said Lhajii. (For a time, there was another location on the East Side, but it closed about four years ago).

Over the years, Lasagna's menu swelled to include 17 riffs on the dish, the same number that the Huntington location will serve once it is fully up to speed. "Staffing is hard," said Lhajii, echoing almost everyone running a restaurant in 2021. "We still have our foot on the brakes."

The partners leased the space prior to the arrival of COVID, but the pandemic presented a string of delays. Their renovation retains some of the space's earthy, brick-lined warmth while adding slightly more formal touches such as chandeliers and a mirrored, backlist, three-sided bar. Bistro tables dot the sidewalk out front.

While not quite yet in full flower, Lasagna's kitchen already plates eight versions, from plain, meatless lasagna to eggplant, braised short rib and shrimp and scallop lasagna. Among the impending debuts, said Lhajii, are lobster lasagna and lamb lasagna. A raft of Italian dishes fill out the menu, from tiny beef meatballs in a creamy tomato sauce ($16, a starter) to Italian wedding soup ($12), spaghetti carbonara ($24), chicken Parmesan or marsala (both $24), and salmon served with sundried tomatoes, cranberries and tomatoes in a white-wine sauce ($28).

Desserts are made in house, from ricotta cheesecake to tiramisu, and the bar is kitted out with Italian wines, tap beers and cocktails made to order. Llajii said Sunday brunch will be added in coming months.

Lasagna Ristorante is open daily from noon until 9 p.m. at 400 New York Ave., Huntington. 631-629-4473. lasagnarestauranthuntington.com

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