Wine bar, Eclectic, New American
Casual restaurant and wine bar serving seasonal New American food.
Wed-Sun: 5 p.m.-11 p.m.; Mon-Tues: closed.
Grilled lobster, duck breast au poivre, grilled oysters, polenta sandwich, mango crepe.Website Add an event Correct this listing
Michael Anthony Toscano's adventures-in-eating take him in all directions. Tag along.
For almost a decade, Toscano starred at the Dering Harbor Inn. He was equally successful for 10 years at his namesake spot on the South Shore.
This new restaurant continues and expands on the energized, eclectic cooking that has made each stop a very satisfying destination. You assume the decor at this one is intended to be a send-up: fake grapes dangling overhead, hokey distressed walls to mimic a vintage country house, Tiffany-style sconces underscoring who-knows-what. Intended or not, the look does focus your attention on the food.
But, when the restaurant was visited in late spring, some dishes were disappointing. Vegetable lasagna turned out bland. Pork-and-ginger wontons were duller than the undercooked Japanese eggplant. The "baked, stuffed colossal clam" was overdone in every way. Pork tenderloin: tougher than getting here on a rainy night.
Recently, however, you could detect a turnaround, something different, more like the Michael Anthony's of memory. Certainly, the service was better; the general mood of the joint, lighter. And the polenta sandwich with mascarpone cheese and shiitake mushrooms delivers a homey, mellow treat. The house's tuna-and-avocado hand.roll materializes on a par with the version at your favorite Japanese eatery.
Plump, grilled oysters benefit from a snappy, lemony vinaigrette. Tarragon crÃ¨me fraÃ®che and pickled slaw complement the lump crab cake. Sesame-spiked calamari shine with a cilantro-driven soy sauce.
Gorgonzola, caramelized pear and walnuts define the appetizing Salad Karen. Sweet onions and feta cheese accent the golden beet number. Nutty Asiago cheese juices up the frisÃ©e.
Better choices than the lasagna: smoked salmon ravioli in scallion-butter sauce; and farfalle with tomatoes, chilies, mushrooms and lobster. Grilled lobster, sweet and slightly smoky, is flanked by a mild grapefruit salsa and coconut-strewn polenta, for a first-class main course. Tender duck breast in a "peach rum au poivre" sounds overorchestrated, but isn't.
Toscano's mango crepe arrives plated like a just-opened flower, allowing you to forget the house's tired butterscotch pudding. The poached pear keeps its shape and sweetness. The flourless chocolate torte has style and depth.
Today, Michael Anthony's Food Bar does, too.
Reviewed by Peter M. Gianotti, 8/5/07.