Italian, New American
Cafe Red is the eastern offspring of Red and Osteria da Nino in Huntington. The buoyant eatery is already packed on weekends. The menu is a combo of Italian and New American, with blackboard specials each night. There's a crunchy shrimp spring roll to start and flavorful baby back ribs with house-made slaw. Winners include tender Berkshire pork osso buco and mellow beef short rib, off the bone in a red-wine reduction, with mashed potatoes and crisp fried onions. Lush tiramisu for dessert.
Open six days for lunch, from 11:30 a.m.; and dinner, from 4 p.m. Closed Mondays. Weekend reservations recommended.
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Shrimp curry, check. Ricotta gnocchi, ditto. Baby back ribs, here. Yes, the clues are starting to add up.
All of which benefits Kings Park diners, who've witnessed more good restaurant openings in the last few months than they've seen in recent years. Café Red, the latest from Huntington restaurateurs Nino Antuzzi and Kelley Danek, rivals its forebears. And under chef Arturo Garcia, a seven-year veteran of Red, the friendly eatery sometimes outdoes them.
His setting is a spare but cozy space, decorated with copper pots, a horizontal zigzag bookshelf, New York City images from Radio City and Times Square to the Brooklyn Bridge, and most important, a blackboard of genuine specials.
Those include a risotto of the day. The creamy porcini number spiked with black-truffle oil is excellent. So is the al dente fettuccine sent out with "Nonna's meatballs." Minestrone with white beans and squash is springtime light. There's a professional crab cake, served on greens; as well as a fine salad starring Gorgonzola cheese, bacon, spiced walnuts and beets. Those Berkshire baby back ribs: tender and tasty, with house-made slaw on the side. The savory Berkshire pork osso buco and short rib of beef, each well braised, arrive with buttery mashed potatoes. Red snapper, snowy and crisp-skinned, is served with a rustic, full-bodied peperonata. An alternative: moist, toasty salmon. And shrimp curry, with coconut-flavored sauce and spiced mango chutney, would be at home in your local Indian eatery, as it is here. The airy, rich tiramisu rescues this sweet from the cliche.
Truffle-oil overdose in hay-and-straw pasta; forgettable shrimp spring roll; so-so fried calamari; underseasoned hunter's chicken. Do you need another tilapia oreganata?
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