Barbie's chicken in the pot at The George in Rockville...

Barbie's chicken in the pot at The George in Rockville Centre. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

It’s not that George Korten felt funny about naming a restaurant for himself. Since 1989, when he and then-partner Martin Winkler opened George Martin in Rockville Centre, he’s presided over many local eponymous eateries. The current lineup is the original George Martin (now dubbed “The Original,”) George Martin’s Grillfire in Merrick and George Martin’s Strip Steak in Great River.

But calling it “The George” nevertheless gave him pause. “I mean, I didn’t think my ego was that big,” he explained.

The name was suggested by his daughter, who lives in London and could not stop talking about The George, founded in 1676, and one of that city’s most famous and beloved pubs. Great food, great drinks, a friendly atmosphere in a casual-but-tasteful environment — it was everything he was looking to do in this Rockville Centre spot. “I wanted an American tavern with a modern twist,” he said. 

Then one night he had a breakthrough. “I realized I could call it The George and not make it about me.” And so the fun began: Korten collected likenesses of all the Georges he could think of: Washington, Strait, Jetson, Burns, Foreman, Constanza. “It felt more playful,” he said.

A collection of George-themed artwork at The George in Rockville...

A collection of George-themed artwork at The George in Rockville Centre. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

The name may be new, but Korten has been running a restaurant at this address since 2013, when he opened George Martin Burger Bar. Eleven years later he was ready for a change. “We were trendsetters when we opened,” he said. “But upscale, burger-centric gastropubs are pretty common now.”

The customer base has also shifted. “When COVID hit, we became more family-oriented — more kids, less of a bar crowd. And the dinner window was short, pretty much over at 8 p.m.,” Korten said.

A handful of menu items are held over from Burger Bar, such as Baja tortilla salad, grilled chicken club and the signature Blackjack burger with barbecue sauce, candied bacon and cherry peppers, now $20 instead of the old $17.95. But executive chef Frank Greco has come up with dishes that are both hearty and whimsical: Wagyu pigs in a blanket, shepherd’s pie-stuffed potato skins, pan-roasted pierogi with truffle butter and caramelized onions.

Wagyu pigs in a blanket at The George in Rockville...

Wagyu pigs in a blanket at The George in Rockville Centre. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

Mains include a French onion meatloaf with mashed potatoes and crostini, short ribs Stroganoff with egg noodles and “Barbie’s chicken in the pot.” Named for Korten’s wife, it features a roast chicken breast and vegetables in a velouté sauce served in a little casserole and topped with a puff-pastry hat. There’s also a short roster of steaks and chops including a prime 8-ounce flat iron steak, a 14-ounce Certified Angus Beef rib-eye and a Berkshire pork rib chop. Starters range from $10 to $17, mains from $21 to $34 (for that rib-eye).

Except for the wide-planked wooden floor, Korten completely remodeled the restaurant to be less rustic-industrial, more classic-cozy. Tables are now covered with black-and-white checkered tablecloths; booths were turned into banquettes and all the seating is now plushily upholstered in red; the bar was integrated into the dining room. And, of course, there are Georges everywhere.

The George, 209 N. Long Beach Rd., Rockville Centre, 516-208-6100, georgemartingroup.com. Open Sunday to Wednesday 5 to 9 p.m., Thursday to Saturday 5 to 10 p.m.

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