Ruvo has settled comfortably into downtown Port Jefferson. This Italian restaurant, related to Ruvo in Greenlawn and La Tavola in Sayville, serves very good food - plus relief from trends, tinkering and Twitterati. It's easy to become a regular, thanks to the fair prices, too. The look combines the rustic and the refined, especially in the butter-shaded dining area. But what defines the place is a friendly approach, unpretentious style and the reliable skills of chefs Joseph DeNicola and Anthony D'Amico. Settle in.
First, you could go the traditional route. Arancini, or rice balls, are plump and savory, filled with fennel sausage and provolone; or winterize yourself with the bracing escarole-and-bean soup. Veer contemporary with yellowfin tuna crudo, a glistening serving of uncooked fish finished with sweet-and-sour cucumbers and citrus-chili oil. A ginger-wasabi drizzle and braised-lentil salad work with the lump crab cakes.
Most of Ruvo's pastas are headliners. The five-cheese lasagna, a surprisingly light and full-flavored production with mozzarella, ricotta, provolone, fontina and Parmesan; and the ricotta gnocchi in a serious Bolognese sauce let you forget a year's worth of imitations. Cavatelli with "Grandma's meatball ragu" almost rivals them. Savory sausages spark the generous rendition of chicken scarpariello, which also features sweet onions, roasted potatoes and red peppers.
The juicy, pan-roasted, rib pork chop rests on creamy, mascarpone-enriched polenta and honey-thyme glazed shallots. The tender, grilled strip steak, shiny from a Barolo-shot demi-glace and boosted by a melted Gorgonzola crust, is paired with roasted garlic-whipped potatoes.
Consider a side order of wild-mushroom risotto, which doubled could be a very satisfying main dish. A mellow tiramisu, creamy cheesecake and warm pear crumble head the sweets.
Underseasoned pasta primavera; standard orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage; skippable salads, dry clams oreganata, modest chocolate cake.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Ruvo is located at 105 Wynn Lane, Port Jefferson, 631-476-3800