Waterfront views are at a premium in Port Jefferson, despite the abundance of restaurants there. The loveliest view may well be from the second-floor dining room of the village’s newest restaurant, P.J. Harbour Club. It takes over the space from the short-lived Due Baci (2019-2020) and ill-fated Graceful Rose (2012 to 2015).
Take a seat in the dining room and you can take in the whole harbor and the hills of Belle Terre beyond it. The room itself is done up in shades of cream and mocha, with plush upholstery, area rugs and fresh flowers.
P.J. Harbour Club, which opened in June, is a collaboration between two hospitality veterans: In the kitchen is Joe Guerra, whose 40-year career spans luxury hotels (including the Garden City Hotel and the Westbury in Manhattan ), restaurants (including The Four Seasons in Manhattan, Bryant & Cooper in Roslyn and La Marmite in New Hyde Park) and country clubs (most recently, Cold Spring Country Club). Guerra’s partner is Michael Russell, a former Wall Street executive who has been a partner and investor in many restaurants.
Both men were retired when they decided to get back into the restaurant game. "We were both members of the Port Jefferson Country Club," Guerra recalled. "We were playing a lot of golf, and kept hearing from our friends that the area could use a high-end restaurant."
Then the Due Baci space was for sale. With seating for 72 in the dining room (and another 60 in the bar and on the deck), it was bigger than he’d planned, but still much smaller than the hotels and clubs he’d spent decades in. "It had good bones and we thought it had a lot of potential."
Guerra’s menu is eclectic, ranging from New American (raw tuna ribbons with avocado and yuzu-miso vinaigrette) to Italian (baked clams, pasta, cioppino) and continental (onion soup, Caesar salad). Many of the dishes evince a rarefied re-imagining, such as seared shrimp over shellfish mousse, brioche and lobster sauce, or chicken breast with dark-meat "rillettes" over creamed vegetable barley, baby turnips, sauce supreme and mignonette. You can also see the influence of his own Portuguese heritage in the bolinhos della casa (shrimp-cod croquettes) and a starter of pork belly with clams. The entrees include four steakhouse selections, including broiled porterhouse with potato pavé for two, four or six people ($56 per person) and an herbed veal chop with Belgian endive and pancetta cream sauce ($44). Most other mains are under $30; starters and salads range from $9 to $22.
P.J. Harbour Club is at 154 W. Broadway, Port Jefferson, 631-309-5800, pjharbourclub.com