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Popular Italian bistro Tony Colombos closes in Rockville Centre

Spaghetti and meatballs was one of the signature

Spaghetti and meatballs was one of the signature dishes at Tony Colombos in Rockville Centre, which closes May 18. Credit: Newsday/Bruce Gilbert

For five years, it's served solid Italian fare to a loyal Long Island fan base, but popular Rockville Centre eatery Tony Colombos Italian Bistro says arrivederci this weekend. “After our best efforts to provide delicious Italian food and quality service,” reads a statement posted Friday on the restaurant’s Facebook page, “we are sad to announce the closing of our beloved restaurant'' after dinner Saturday, May 18.

Chef and co-owner Art Gustafson was quick to deny the shuttering might be due to a lack of patronage. “The restaurant was performing very well,” he stressed by phone, “but there just wasn’t any further we could go with it.” As it happens, his company, Chadwicks Restaurant Group, also received a “fantastic offer for the restaurant,” he said, at which point they decided to sell and “redirect resources” toward a project in the works, a steakhouse in Garden City that the company plans to open in mid-June. (The entity taking Tony Colombos' place is said to be Voodoo Crab Cajun Boil & Fresh Seafood, expected to open in early July.)

Primehouse Steak & Sushi, Gustafson’s new Garden City establishment, will be “the greatest modern steakhouse Long Island has ever seen,” he told us. Rather unusually for the genre, it is being conceived with female patrons in mind. “Most steakhouses are not designed for women. Most have the red leather, dark wood, bookshelves, men with pipes. We went in a completely opposite direction.”

Gustafson hopes to lure women  with such things as saffron-colored banquettes, gilded silver mirrors and modern lighting. Primehouse will also boast a 35-foot-long black granite bar.  The menu will attempt to make its own statement, he said, prominently featuring sushi, heritage chicken, organic ingredients, and more. At the helm will be executive chef Mark Del Priore. Also in the kitchen will be Gustafson, the executive chef and owner of two other Rockville Centre restaurants, Chadwicks American Chophouse and Salsa Mexicana. 

“We’re calling it a celebration,” said Gustafson of Saturday night’s farewell at Tony Colombos, “or maybe an Irish funeral. We’re extremely sad about the closing, but sometimes circumstances — pragmatic heads have to prevail. We looked at and assessed our portfolio, and decided this was the best move we could make.”

Tony Colombos Italian Bistro was at 208 Sunrise Hwy., Rockville Centre.

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