One of Long Island’s best and most distinctive restaurants will be taking a final bow before Christmas. Verde Wine Bar and Ristorante in Deer Park will serve its last supper on Dec. 22.
With its low-key vibe, imaginative beverage program and innovative, Italian-inflected New American cooking, the 5-year-old Verde was a fixture on Newsday’s Top 10 bistro list.
Co-owner Anthony Carcaterra said the restaurant, one of several tenants in an unprepossessing industrial building near Tanger Outlets, was unable to extend its lease because the landlord had plans for the entire property.
When Carcaterra opened Verde in July 2013, he took over the spot that had been his parents’ pizzeria, Papa Joe’s, since 1993. A few items from the old menu hung on (lasagna, eggplant Parmesan, the big bowl of salad that came free with every entree), but the kitchen was transformed by his partner, chef James Ahearn.
Ahearn had a thing for offal — he made a mean Milanese with pork skin — and striking flavor combinations such as roasted clams with Parmesan cheese and pork belly; rabbit leg with bacon, mushrooms and anchovies; halibut with fregola, broccoli rabe and olives; and cod puttanesca.
Carcaterra presided over an encyclopedic list of all-American beers, wines and spirits. Unwilling to serve his customers a mediocre white zinfandel (and unable to find one that wasn’t), he took to making his own, blending Wölffer Estate rosé with Foris Moscato from Oregon to make a refreshing and suitably pink wine that mimicked white zin without treading the same cloying territory.
For his last month in the restaurant business, Carcaterra is paying tribute to his parents, Cathy and Niel, with a menu that echoes Papa Joe’s original. Starting on Nov. 21, Ahearn will be sending out meatballs with house-made ricotta, fried calamari, rigatoni alla vodka, eggplant Parmesan and more. He’ll still be making those roasted clams, though.
Carcaterra said that most of the crew from Verde will relocate to his family’s catering hall, Bella Verde, across from the Deer Park LIRR station.
Verde Wine Bar and Ristorante is at 450 Commack Rd., Deer Park, 631-242-8902, eatdrinkverde.com.