At Sapsuckers Hops & Grub, executive chef Nino Antuzzi uses organic eggs, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and Berkshire pork. What's not made on-site comes from artisanal suppliers - bread from Tom Cat Bakery in Queens, desserts from Fiorella Dolce, a bakery-gelateria in Huntington that Antuzzi also owns.
In tight, minimalist quarters, this gastro-pub (named for a bird) offers revved-up comfort classics of a caliber rarely seen at this price point. Relax, order a microbrew and catch a game on TV.
IN THE ZONE
A wood smoker sends forth an appetizer of meaty, tender, deeply smoky baby back ribs. You also taste the essence of hickory in the three little pigs, pulled pork sliders on potato rolls. Four cheeses (Parmesan, sharp and mild Cheddar plus Fontina) contribute richness to a winning casserole of mac and cheese with an herbed bread crumb crust.
A Cubano sandwich on ciabatta features roasted pork, ham, Swiss and pickles; it's good and gooey. The Sardinian-style dog is actually a glorious house-made wild boar sausage nestled in a brioche roll with caramelized onions and a balsamic reduction. I'm also enamored of the Chicago-style hot dog with tomato wedges, green relish, raw onion and mustard.
My burger is rare and juicy, with tomato, red onion and Cheddar; like all sandwiches, it's served with hand-cut fries, dark brown and nutty, as well as half-sour pickles, a favorite.
I have an OMG moment when tasting the smoked and braised pork shank - soft, complex, seductive - atop a bed of couscous.
Both the chocolate truffle cake (a layered cylinder topped with intensely bittersweet truffles) and the homey-elegant carrot cake are showstoppers. So, too, is the clean-tasting vanilla gelato.
While fish and chips are very good, they don't get my heart pumping. Nor does the good, not great, chicken potpie - a pastry cap atop a casserole of chicken and vegetables in a rich white sauce.