Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon

Red is hot. The New American restaurant, entering its second decade downtown, has battled recession, resisted trendlets, improved dramatically. Executive chef and owner Nino Antuzzi, who also runs the popular and more traditional Osteria da Nino on Main Street, is having fun here, picking cuisines and preparing pretty plates. And the dining room, equal parts sleek and cozy, has a warm glow that's just right on a winter night.

The best

The gratis caponata, the zesty Sicilian eggplant relish, here is finished with a dusting of chocolate powder. It will make you forget every butter patty in town. You can continue along that route with "Sicilian kissed calamari," wherein sauteed squid is entwined with capers, pine nuts, black olives and fired-up tomato sauce. Plump, seared sea scallops get a boost from truffled garlic mayo; a special of spiedini alla Romana from a tomato-pesto combo. The "harvest salad" with Gorgonzola cheese, crisp bacon, walnuts, beets and mesclun sparks your appetite.

Try the Parmesan cheese risotto with prawns - it's especially creamy and mellow. Rigatoni alla buttera, with fennel sausage, peas, tomatoes and cream, arrives rich and refined; likewise, fresh cavatelli in a lush Bolognese sauce, and the exemplary lasagna. Tuscan chicken looks the part.

Just when you figure Red is veering entirely Italian comes a vibrant yellow curry with shrimp and mango chutney. Tender braised short ribs, glistening from a red-wine reduction, becomes more homey accompanied by crunchy onions, mashed potatoes and string beans. And look for the periodic pairing of a grilled Berkshire pork chop and delectable pulled pork.

Tiramisu takes a tropical turn with banana and coconut. But the gelati are pure and fine. Respectable wines and beers, too.

The rest

Standard shrimp spring roll; basic Caesar salad; satisfactory chicken-filled ravioli; modest ginger-parsnip soup with goat cheese; so-so flourless chocolate cake; tepid apple-pear cobbler.

The bottom line

In the black.

Red is located at 417 New York Ave., Huntington, 631-673-0304,

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