Prime: An American Kitchen & Bar
117 New York Ave., Huntington
SERVICE: Smart and smooth
AMBIENCE: Modern, waterfront style
ESSENTIALS: Lunch, Monday to Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.; Sunday brunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; dinner, Monday to Thursday 4 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday to 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday 3 to 10 p.m.; Dinner reservations necessary; lunch and brunch reservations recommended; major credit cards accepted; wheelchair accessible by ramp at north side entrance.
Dining on Long Island’s Gold Coast becomes an 18-carat affair at Prime: An American Kitchen & Bar.
Prime opened in 2006. It has employed several very talented chefs, undergone handsome redesign, and recently added an oyster bar. So, a reassessment and update are necessary.
And, while it was on hold from Newsday’s annual list of Long Island’s top 100 restaurant during the chef changes and the renovation, you can be sure that it’s still one of the best places to eat in either Nassau or Suffolk.
Prime is the main course in the Bohlsen Restaurant Group, which also takes in the stellar Tellers: An American Chophouse, and Verace True Italian, both in Islip; and H20: Seafood and Sushi in Smithtown and East Islip. The group clearly likes subtitles.
Prime needs none. The single word is enough.
Come by land or sea, for dinner, lunch or brunch. You’ll find a serene, seductive waterfront setting, painterly sunsets and a polished look from dining room to deck. As it always has, Prime provides glitter without glitz. All this leads to a tab heftier than the house’s 40-ounce steaks.
But the place is packed, from the Italian sports cars in the parking lot to the comfortable coterie of reveling regulars and assorted celebrators. A lot of restaurants would consider this extraordinary, At Prime, it’s just Tuesday night.
So, sample the oysters, from Blue Points to Kumamotos, Big Coves to Fanny Bays. Enjoy a crab cocktail, and add a couple of equally colossal shrimp that could wrestle lobsters. Savor the sweetness of caramelized figs, their richness cut by sheaves of prosciutto, nuggets of goat cheese and a scattering of crushed nuts,
Or pick one of the colorful sushi rolls. Overochestrated, yes. But that Montauk roll with spicy tuna and lobster tastes pretty good. Likewise, the well-seasoned crabcake, accented with a brush stroke of Sriracha aioli. There are a few openers you can skip, from thin lobster bisque to dry shrimp-and-lobster wontons. Gnocchi with a Parmesan-white truffle oil identity are lush and aromatic, but curiously blackened on one side here and there.
Refresh yourself with the salad of watermelon, festooned with macadamia nuts, tomatoes, fig jam, ricotta and chive oil.
Executive chef James Orlandi sends out a perfectly steamed, 2-pound lobster and a beefy cut of pan-seared tuna with wasabi aioli. But it’s the 21-day, dry-aged steaks that have all the beefiness you’ll remember.
The porterhouse for two competes with any this side of Peter Luger, tender, mineral-sweet, cooked precisely as ordered. The Tellers rib-eye, which is the Islip restaurant’s signature dish, arrives with showstopper panache, juicy and grand, with a foot-long bone that makes the whole thing look like a tennis racquet, prehistoric variety.
Veal chop Parmesan is in the same class, velvety and lavish. Prime also prepares a bone-in filet mignon; and, if your budget rivals the nation’s, a 24-day dry-aged wagyu strip steak.
Any meat may provide an excuse for “enhancements,” of which butter-poached lobster is the ultimate garnish. A respectable Bearnaise sauce leads the more modest alternatives.
On the side, the mandatory choices are classic creamed spinach and whipped potatoes, a decidedly excessive stuffed “twice baked’ potato, homey skillet spuds, and heavy-duty, sure-to-vanish macaroni and cheese.
Desserts are few. But allow for the creamy vanilla bean cheesecake, bedecked with candied macadamia nuts, a small dice of tropical fruit, and caramel sauce. Or share the s’mores sundae for two, complete with house-made marshmallow, a warm brownie, graham cracker, chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream.
It needs no more gilding.