Richard Lanza is throwing a homecoming party in North Patchogue.
Lanza, who starred at Blackstone Steakhouse in Melville, grew up in the Patchogue-Medford area. His first food job was in the neighborhood. And he's definitely back.
Lanza's stage is a big, brick-and-stone monument, rising on a dim stretch of Route 112. As a restaurant, it stands out like Vegas in the desert.
The name Ristegio's is a combination of the owners' names, as in Richard, Steven and Joseph Lanza. Inside, theirs is a sprawling, hard-surface, often noisy space, with two dining rooms, a sushi section and a centerpiece bar with four TVs so no major sporting event goes unnoticed.
One wall, with a window on the wine room, features enough stone-like facing to deplete Home Depot. The best way to describe the artwork: assertive. But there are subtler touches, too.
Most important, they stem from the professional service and the inviting food. General manager Andy Kormendi, who ran the long-gone, much-missed Louis XVI in Patchogue, expertly steers the staff here. And Lanza smoothly segues through New American, French, Italian and Japanese cuisines.
His sherried, coral-shaded lobster bisque is a refined opener. But equally recommended is the husky stew of Nueske's slab bacon and beans with brown sugar, tomato and pomegranate molasses -- a deluxe pig-out.
Pretty good tempura-battered artichokes are backed by lemon-garlic aioli. Crabcakes could be crabbier but get a boost from roasted-corn salsa and sauce rémoulade. A tasty flatbread with prosciutto, caramelized pear and Fontina cheese; or one with plum tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, could be shared while you're deciding the rest.
There's hefty, satisfying baked macaroni and cheese finished with Black Forest ham; and an outstanding main dish dubbed "stuffed pasta pillows," light, plump and savory packets with a four-cheese filling in a meaty, first-class spin on Bolognese sauce.
Chile-rubbed, bacon-wrapped pork medallions and the "8HR" braised short rib are equally generous. Roasted corn, edamame and purple-potato succotash support nutty, pan-seared diver sea scallops. Black forbidden rice buttresses respectable, sesame-crusted salmon; couscous and roasted tomato vinaigrette, pan-seared, rosy Montauk yellowfin tuna.
Ristegio's sends out traditional sashimi, sushi and sushi rolls. Notable choices include the fluke and yellowtail. The house's namesake roll combines tuna, yellowtail, salmon, and avocado; the 112 roll, spicy crabmeat, cucumber, shrimp and spicy mayo.
Artful cheesecake, flourless chocolate cake and Greek yogurt panna cotta with "brûléed" figs top the desserts.
Join the festivities.