Wild Side Organic Bistro & Bar was always hard to categorize: an eatery with fine-dining chops and disposable plates that served homestyle Indian cooking and Neapolitan wood-fired pizza — and whatever else appealed to its worldly owners, Raquel Wolf and Jay Jadeja. The couple opened Wild Side on Montauk Highway in Oakdale in April 2016 and June 21 was its last day.
“With the pandemic,” Wolf said, “we just couldn’t sustain it any more.”
Wild Side was the couple’s second Long Island restaurant; they operated West East Bistro in Hicksville from 2008 until a few months after they opened Wild Side. The Oakdale venue started out as a market-cafe, but gradually the cafe took over and, as Jadeja got more comfortable with the wood-burning oven, pizza became more of a draw. Eventually, Wolf took over the lion’s share of the dough prep and, no matter which spouse was tending the oven, you could count on a great pizza. (Wild Side was a fixture on our Top 10 Pizzas Worth the Drive list; its chicken tikka masala pie expressing the restaurant’s true “prana.”
The good news: much of the menu — including chicken tikka masala pizza and palak paneer pizza — lives on at Wolf and Jadeja’s new restaurant, The Onion Tree, which opened in March in Sea Cliff where Oak Room Tavern was. There are also classic Neapolitan pies, grass-fed beef burgers, Bombay “gumbo,” vegetarian coco-lentil stew and chickpeas-battered spicy potato sliders and much more.
Sea Cliff, it turns out, is a better fit for the menu and the vibe. “The community has really embraced us,” Wolf said. “They appreciate our uniqueness and, in spite of Coronavirus, they want to help us succeed.”
Indoor dining at The Onion Tree has just commenced. There are also six tables outside, three of them replacing some fledgling tomato plants in what had been a garden alongside the building. For now, there is also dining right on Sea Cliff Avenue on Friday and Saturday evenings.
The Onion Tree is at 242 Sea Cliff Ave., Sea Cliff, 516-916-5353, theoniontree.com.