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Waterzooi Belgian Bistro opens in Port Washington

Steak au poivre with cracked pepper, cognac, mustard

Steak au poivre with cracked pepper, cognac, mustard cream, and pommes frites at Waterzooi in Port Washington. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Well into their third decade of keeping Garden City well fixed for mussels and beer, the owners of Waterzooi Belgian Bistro have established a beachhead on North Shore. Last week, Ed Davis, Chris Werle and Jeffrey Piciullo opened the doors to a second location, at the corner of Port Washington Boulevard and Main Street.

Port Washington is a town with a thriving (albeit disproportionately sushi-centric) restaurant culture, but it has not seen the opening of such a big, flashy, well-financed restaurant in recent memory. It took three years for Waterzooi to transform a former Wells Fargo Bank into 168-seat restaurant whose gleaming tile work and vintage light fixtures lend it a movie-set glamour. There are two dining rooms, a lavish, zinc-topped bar and, in fine weather, a patio that seats an additional 20 patrons and affords a good view of the abundant parking that further distinguishes it from most other local eateries.

Partner Davis is also executive chef of both restaurants; the Port Washington kitchen also boasts the culinary stylings of Edward Villatoro, who formerly ran the kitchen at Tellers in Islip and is also the star of Feed Me TV’s episode “From Pupusas to Porterhouse.” (Click here to view.)

The Port Washington menu is largely the same as the one in Garden City: straight-ahead bistro fare such as escargot, onion soup, country pate, steak au poivre, carbonade Flamande (Belgian beef stew), double-cut pork chop with sauerkraut and spaetzle, and roast chicken; modern-global dishes such as grilled octopus and crispy pork belly with romesco sauce, pappardelle with Wagyu beef-boar-sausage Bolognese, a “Wellington” burger with truffled mushrooms and foie-gras mousse. Starters range from $13 to $24; entrees, from $25 to $29.

You can get a pot of mussels Provencal (steamed with tomatoes and wine) or any one of nine other preparations such as Thai (with lemongrass and spicy coconut broth), Calabrian (spicy marinara), Lucifer (Buffalo-style with crumbled blue cheese). Gild the lily with smoked salmon, lobster or go full bouillabaisse (with shrimp and lobster in a saffron-crab broth). All mussel pots come with French fries and range from $29 to $42).

Werle is the team’s self-described “beer nut,” and he has assembled a lineup of two dozen beers on draft with another 55 in bottles, most of which are Belgian. There are cult brews such as the dessert-worthy Kasteel Barista Chocolate Quad (one barrel, Werle said, and going fast) and Delirium Tremens, which is served in a glass with a perilously angled stem. The Waterzooi team also owns Croxley’s, a regional powerhouse whose five craft-beer bars give the organization a lot of buying power when it comes to rare beer.

For now, Waterzooi is open daily for dinner only; lunch and brunch should launch in the next few weeks.

1029 Port Washington Blvd., Port Washington, 516-472-7484; 850 Franklin Ave, Garden City, 516-877-2177; waterzooi.com.

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