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Long Beach: Sugo branches out

Halibut and shellfish "in cartoccio" at Sugo in

Halibut and shellfish "in cartoccio" at Sugo in Long Beach. Newsday photo / Erica Marcus (July 2, 2010) Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus

Lovely dinner this weekend at Sugo in Long Beach. When it opened in June 2007, the restaurant’s motto was “Italian food with an urban edge,” but over the years it has morphed into what owner Alan Adams calls “New American with world influences.” As for the urban edge, I don’t know too many city restaurants that are this friendly. Chef Adam Goldgell (who landed at Sugo in March 2008 after stints at the late Hog House in Huntington Station and Burger 9 point 5 in Merrick) was greeting customers when we showed up, though he soon retired to the kitchen. But Adams was all over the place: going over the specials, answering questions, bussing, serving and chatting with everyone.

The highlight of our meal was an appetizer of tenderly braised baby back lamb ribs with a cherry-chilli chutney served with a little salad topped by a shard of papadum, the 45-rpm-sized spicy Indian crackers. Here was the rare dish that perfectly balanced sweet, sour and spicy—and the unexpected lambiness of the proceedings added a bonus note.

My pal’s chopped salad was a winner, as was her Berkshire pork chop, pounded into a Milanese and topped with an arugula salad. I got a big kick out of the halibut-and-friends in cartoccio (baked in parchment) pictured here. This was a very healthy slab of halibut steamed, along with clams, mussels, grape tomatoes, greens and squash, in a savory saffron broth. It is nearly impossible to cook this dish so that everything is cooked correctly, and in this case the clams were a bit overdone but that barely detracted from the spectacle of all that good seafood in one big package.

Sugo is at 62 West Park Ave., Long Beach, 516-431-7846.

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