Chef Jonathan Levine scored in Las Vegas. He hits it big in Port Jefferson.
Levine transforms the restaurant at Danfords Hotel & Marina, the local landmark at the harbor. The hotel has been refreshed and updated in recent years. But Levine makes Wave. It's easily the best dining room here in memory, recent or distant.
The harborside spot seems cozier, even when the bar and lounge two steps away are going full blast. Subdued hues, streamlined decor and soft lighting contribute to the easygoing mood.
But it's Levine's show, precise and meticulous, from a cook who started as a computer programmer. Levine's résumé includes fish chef at Guy Savoy, the elegantly contemporary Vegas offspring of the great Paris restaurant; and executive chef at The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas.
WAVE is a sure thing.
Enjoy a taste of autumn: savory calabaza-squash soup, finished with citrus crème fraîche and spiced pumpkin seeds; or soothing celery-root soup, floating nuggets of tart apple and bacon. Levine prepares a tantalizing butternut squash risotto, enriched with dried cherries, pine nuts, mascarpone cheese and brown-butter maple foam. His house-made pappardelle announces itself in a lush sauce of leek cream, sun-dried tomatoes and sausage. Lobster risotto arancini sounds unwieldy, but they're deluxe rice balls. Consider a three-part seafood tasting, highlighted by Thai-chili-lime- dressed striped bass. Nibble on the pistachio brittle in the golden beet salad; Maytag blue cheese in the mission figs. Relish applewood-bacon wrapped meat loaf and lobster potpie; braised beef short rib and smoked-mango BBQ rack of lamb. Try a perfectly poached lobster or whole black bass with a mustard vinaigrette. Spoon pumpkin custard from a candied pumpkin, for a playful spin on crème brûlée.
Pasty baked cherrystone clams and seafood couscous, so-so seared tuna Niçoise, bland cranberry-pear galette and orange mousse.
THE BOTTOM LINE