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Meritage Wine Bar review: Upbeat Glen Cove restaurant pours and serves with flair

Executive chef Howard Fay talks about the popular vegetable paella dish at Meritage Wine Bar in Glen Cove. Credit: Daniel Brennan

Meritage Wine Bar

90 School St., Glen Cove


COST: $$-$$$

SERVICE: Friendly, efficient

AMBIENCE: Upbeat modern

ESSENTIALS: Open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. Monday to Friday, brunch Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m., dinner from 4 p.m. every day; weekend reservations recommended; major credit cards accepted; wheelchair accessible

It’s pouring every day in Glen Cove.

Meritage Wine Bar signals the start of fall-winter festivities and very good times to come. And the stylish, unpretentious spot is exactly what this city-getting-younger needs.

The buoyant restaurant uncorks at the former address of Page One, a New American place. The current look is sleek and modern, but never chilly, whether you’re at the bar, in the dining room or peeking into the kitchen.

That’s the province of executive chef Howard Fay, who earned accolades at Amerrickana Tapas & Bar in Merrick and The Clubhouse in Bellmore.

Fay also was the first chef at Todd English’s Figs, which brought considerable taste to Central Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport.

Here, he sends out a wide-ranging menu, tapas to main courses, that complements every wine in the house. The savory mix of cuisines takes in New American, Italian, Spanish, Greek and more.

Start your travels with well-chosen cured meats and cheeses, from saucisson sec and mangalica sausage to feta and Gorgonzola dolce. Sip Beaujolais or Cotes du Rhone and chart your next course.

Consider hummus, tapenade and tzatziki spreads with triangles of pita bread; or a snappy salad of quinoa and arugula with roasted vegetables, along with some sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio.

Then, share a few small plates. Standouts: veal-pork-beef meatballs in a delicious tomato sauce; crunchy rice balls enriched with speck, mozzarella and fontina; and the rosy, sliced duck breast, finished with a cherry demi-glace and accompanied by cipollini onions. Make that a Chianti Classico, please, or a Rosso di Montalcino.

Charred octopus, however, is nearly incinerated. Wild mushrooms atop polenta need to be wilder. Chorizo-stuffed squid: rubbery.

But the comeback begins with nutty, sweet seared scallops, atop purees of purple potato and cauliflower; and irresistible duck-fat, smashed fingerling potatoes. Try gruner veltiner with the shellfish; perhaps an IPA with the spuds.

Heading to large plates, sample the cauliflower “steak,” a hefty slab with some caramelization, plus the heirloom carrots and green beans, all on a lush butternut squash puree. Complement it with either riesling of vermentino.

Fay veers Spanish with a well-made, aromatic seafood paella of shellfish and squid, seasoned with rounds of chorizo sausage. A light rosé could compete with verdejo to respect this dish. Fay’s Italian journey includes the pappardelle in a very satisfying veal-and-pork ragu, which should lead you to pick a sangiovese.

The tender, double-cut pork chop is excellent, alongside a California chardonnay. A major rib-eye steak, which materializes with marrow-rich bone, plus asparagus and fingerlings, ensures either a sip of cabernet sauvignon or of a Rioja red.

Meritage’s ample mixed grill brings together fine filet mignon, chicken and chorizo, all of which will have you contentedly downing either malbec or rosso Veronese.

Finales wander from airy pumpkin mousse and a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich to Nutella-and-caramel filcrepes and an affogato of vanilla ice cream doused with espresso.

Of course, that means it’s time for Port.

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