Overview: Fans of Red Restaurant, Osteria da Nino and Sapsuckers Hops & Grub will be delighted that Huntington restaurateur Nino Antuzzi has branched out to Kings Park. Café Red, which barely opened its doors three months ago, is already creating waves on the local restaurant scene with a snazzy menu showcasing both New American and authentic Italian fare.
Decor: The restaurant’s bright door, and the velvet curtain that guests pass through upon entering, set the stage for the fact that red will play a commanding role in the décor. Red makes its statement as an accent color, emboldening a bookcase, the serving station and even the frame circling the blackboard announcing the specials. Italian pottery and copper pots adorn golden walls, with dark wood wainscoting adding warmth. Candlelit dining makes for intimacy. The minimalist yet sophisticated interior is reminiscent of a trendy Manhattan eatery.
The Drinks: Wine is served by the glass ($7) or the carafe ( $14 for half; $25 for full), or you can bring your own bottle without a corkage fee. Café Red stocks seven bottled beers, including Peroni, Stella Artois, Corona, and Sam Adams Lager.
Appetizers: Tempting starters include Berkshire baby back ribs, served with the house barbecue sauce and homemade slaw ($9), plump seared sea scallops paired with truffled aioli and baby greens ($11), and Prince Edward Island mussels, steamed in a sweet Thai curry broth ($8).
Salads: Café Red’s classic Caesar salad boasts dressed baby romaine lettuce enlivened by house croutons and Parmesan cheese ($7). Harvest Salad is a flavorful blend of baby greens, beets, spiced walnuts, gorgonzola cheese, and crispy bacon finished with a port wine vinaigrette ($8).
Entrees: Fine food begins with the best ingredients, and diners will be pleased to know Café Red uses beef, chicken, and pork that comes from animals that have been naturally raised on small farms. Ditto for the salmon, responsibly raised by Wester Ross in Scotland, which was a special on the evening of my visit.
Seafood lovers will enjoy the luscious simplicity of seared sea scallops presented in a slightly tangy ginger-lime beurre blanc paired with jasmine rice, and vegetables ($22). Fettuccine and veal meatballs ($17) is a stand-out among Café Red’s pasta offerings, and there is also a risotto de jour, priced accordingly. Connoisseurs of fine meat will enjoy the grass-fed short rib of beef, braised and served in a cabernet reduction with mashed potatoes ($24). The entrees are very generously portioned.
Desserts: Your server will regale you with the delights of at least five homemade desserts, and there are also daily specials. Winning entries include bread pudding, paired with vanilla gelato and bathed in a caramel sauce ($7) and my personal favorite, the melt-in-your-mouth, flourless chocolate cheese surrounded by crème anglaise ($7).
Service: The staff is very attentive and accommodating, and manager Francesco Di Maio makes sure that guests are enjoying their meals and that things are just so. Café Red tends to be busiest on weekends, but the place was still hopping with guests enjoying a late dinner at 8:30 pm on the Thursday night of my visit. To avoid disappointment, make dinner reservations in advance, especially on weekends. Café Red is also open for lunch.
Signature Dish: Rave reviews go to Café Red’s Berkshire Pork Osso Buco (tender pork shank, braised to perfection with vegetables and presented in its cooking sauce), which is served with creamy mashed potatoes ($20).
Address: 107 Main Street
Chef: Arturo Garcia