One of my spring rituals is to drive up to Manorhaven, the bit of Port Washington at the top of Manhasset Bay, to scope out this year’s marina-dining situation. La Motta’s Dockside has been a fixture at Manhasset Bay Marina since 1994, and Butler’s Flat celebrates its 10th anniversary this year at Safe Harbor Capri West marina.
Nino’s Beach, which opened last month, is the latest incarnation at Safe Harbor Capri East. This sister restaurant to Nino’s AQ in Astoria, Queens is as serious about its food and décor as it is about the panoramic views of Manhasset Bay. Chef-partner Franco Vendome has put together a refined, modern menu that nonetheless covers a lot of bases.
There are homemade pastas ($22 to $25) and artisanal pizzas ($18 to $22) baked in a traditional Neapolitan oven. Starters ($18 to $24) are where Vendome spreads his wings: The current menu features asparagus with fava beans, guanciale and carrot vinaigrette; hamachi crudo with pickled rhubarb, crispy shallots and basil oil; beef tartare with oyster mayonnaise; crabcakes with lemon-Calabrian pepper aioli; grilled Portuguese octopus with squash puree and green mango; and maple-agrodolce-glazed baby back ribs.
Mains ($35 to $55) include a 14-ounce New York strip, double-cut pork chops, whole roast chicken and seared yellowfin tuna. There’s also an oyster bar with at least three selections each day.
You can see the water from three sides of the 9,000-square-foot restaurant but even without the views, the place is a stunner, a harmonious blend of stone, alabaster, marble and brass. The main room boasts a long cocktail bar, a smaller dining area is devoted to the oyster bar, and a third dining room has windows that open onto a dining deck.
Franco’s brother and partner, Michael Vendome, developed the tight wine list as well as a roster of specialty cocktails. The two are second-generation restaurateurs who opened Nino’s AQ in 2018 and, from 2012 until it closed during the pandemic, operated Nino’s 46 in Manhattan’s Theater District.
Nino’s Beach is at 43 Orchard Beach Blvd., Port Washington, 516-502-0441, ninosbeach.com.