The Savoy Tavern opened Jan. 7 in the Merrick spot...

The Savoy Tavern opened Jan. 7 in the Merrick spot once occupied by Brooks & Porter. (Jan. 17, 2013) Credit: Handout

The former site of Merrick’s Brooks & Porter steakhouse (2008-12) has a new tenant: The Savoy Tavern is owned by a group of first-time restaurant owners who hired noted New York restaurateur Gerard Renny to create the concept.

Renny, whose Manhattan ventures have included Bar Stuzzichini and Sushi A Go-Go, put his ear to the Merrick ground. “What I heard was that Brooks & Porter’s price point was too high, that people wanted something friendly and not too expensive. That’s where the ‘tavern’ idea came from.”

Savoy’s menu features New American comfort standards (wedge salad, grilled cheese, roast chicken with polenta, potato-crusted salmon, house-blend burger) interspersed with Southern Italian specialties (baked clams, rigatoni with meat ragu). Small plates range from $7 to $16; salads from $10 to $14; sandwiches $12 to $16; mussels in the mid-teens; mains in the high teens and family-style large plates (serving two to three) from $24 for spaghetti and meatballs to $42 for veal Parmesan.

I’m looking forward to trying the pane panelle, the traditional Sicilian sandwich of chickpea fritters, ricotta and caciocavallo cheeses. Savoy’s comes on a fresh-baked roll from Spiga bakery in Bellmore. ($10, add mortadella — thanks, I will! — for $1.)

For now the kitchen is being run by Kenneth Pulomena, most recently executive chef at Morgans Fish House in Rye and a veteran of Blue Water Grill in Manhattan. Renny said that Pulomena has a three-month contract “to execute the vision and give the kitchen focus and direction.”

The Savoy Tavern is at 16 Merrick Ave., Merrick, 516-506-7717.

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