When the going gets tough, the tough reinvent their restaurants. That’s what Daniel Pedisich and Bruno Oliveira did this summer. On July 4, they shuttered Konoba, the Croatian-inflected, vino-centric eatery they opened in 2019. Three weeks later, the rustic chairs and tables were replaced by sleeker models, the reclaimed wood walls and all other touches of lumber were expunged and the menu was revamped. Vinoteka 56 was open for business.
“Huntington is changing,” said owner Pedisich, “The crowd is younger and they are not looking to spend as much money or as much time in a restaurant."
A keen observer of the hospitality scene, he scrutinized his own business plan and acknowledged that Konoba could use a refresh.
And so he and Oliveira, the chef, took another look at their last concept, Bin 56, a tiny wine-tapas bar that they operated for 10 years on Stewart Avenue, three blocks away.
“Bin 56 was born out of the 2009 recession, when tapas became popular,” said Pedisich. The two men set about to make “a sort of a merger” of Konoba and Bin 56.
Pedisich is proud of his Croatian heritage and is a promoter of Croatian foods and wines — “Konoba” is Croatian for “tavern,” “Vinoteka” means “wine bar” — and his new menu still boasts Croatian cheeses and salumi (cured by Muncan in Astoria, Queens), beef-lamb-pork “‘cevapi” sausage with “lepinja” flatbread and cheese-spinach burek. But there are also tacos (stuffed with fried chicken, beer-battered cod, shrimp or braised short rib), lollipop lamb chops, burrata with peach and truffle oil, sesame-crusted seared tuna, pappardelle with lamb ragu, a Canadian bison burger, a New York strip steak and cauliflower-crust pizza.
There is still a terrific selection of well-priced, lesser-known wines, many of them available by the 3-ounce or 6-ounce glass. And here’s your chance to try beers from Croatia and Ukraine.
The constant chatter about the price of lobster rolls prompted Oliveira to create a “poor man’s lobster” roll with monkfish standing in for the pricey crustacean. (It’s delicious, although it tastes nothing like lobster — and it’s $19.95.)
Pedisich calls the menu “Mediterranean meets Huntington.” Right now it comprises more than two dozen small plates (most under $15), three flatbreads (under $18), 10 “handhelds” and five large plates (which hover around $30). “It’s huge, too huge” he conceded. “We want to see what people are looking for.”
Vinoteka 46 is open for dinner every night except Tuesday. There’s live music most Friday nights.
46G Gerard St., Huntington, 631-824-7712, vinoteka46.com