There may not be a more singular restaurant to open this year on Long Island than Glen Cove’s The Salt Grill, which is Brazilian-French by way of China and Manhattan. Chef-partner Joerley Da Silva was born in Brazil and then became a chef in China where he met his wife and partner, Nelly Li. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America and cooking in NYC, he returned to China where he owned a steakhouse.
During the pandemic, the couple settled on Long Island to raise a family and, Li said, a friend introduced them to the owner of the Cedar Swamp Road building whose last tenant was Cedar Creek.
After a thorough renovation, The Salt Grill opened in August. Li said that her husband had always been inspired by French style and elegance and now he sought to apply that to some of the flavors he grew up with. If your only exposure to Brazilian cuisine is at one of the all-you-can-eat steak houses such as Fogo de Chão or Texas de Brazil, you are in for a surprise.
Don’t start your meal without a tray of pão de queijo, ping-pong-ball-sized hollow spheres made of cheese and cassava flour. Da Silva is from Minas Gerais, birthplace of these addictive orbs, which is Brazil’s center of cheese-making. Supply-chain issues have hindered his importing native cheeses, but his passion is evident in the ones he puts on his platter: Two American champs, Hudson Valley Camembert and Humboldt Fog goat, plus Northern Italian Crucolo. These are served with coconut-pumpkin marmalade and cranberry-pecan bread.
The chef takes the chicken salad known as salpicão (made with peas, corn, olives, diced beef sausage and raisins) and tucks it, taco style, into gem lettuce leaves topped with matchstick potatoes.
From the charcoal grill comes prime filet mignon, porterhouse, rib-eye and the typical Brazilian cut, picanha, or culotte. Other mains include moqueca (Chilean sea bass, clams and mussels in a mellow coconut-milk broth) and pan-seared chicken with passion fruit-carrot puree and maitake mushroom.
When avocado shaved ice is on the menu, you have to order it, and you’ll be glad you did.
The bar does wonderful things with cachaça (distilled from sugar cane) including, of course, the caipirinha, Brazil's national cocktail. There’s also a very good wine list. Service is attentive and warm. The servers may have learned only recently about the intricacies of the menu, but they are excited about sharing it with you.
Starters and salads range from $12 to $30, most mains from $22 to $49.
The Salt Grill is at 75 Cedar Swamp Rd., Glen Cove, 516-200-9902, thesaltgrill.com