Dennis Young, executive chef and proprietor of Pentimento in Stony Brook Village is a man with a strong sense of what he wants for himself, his staff and his customers. Pentimento is an art term for revealing the painting under the painting. There are many layers of operation here as well. The candlelit dining room and bar run by Lisa Cusumano and the staff is flawless. But the heart and soul is in the kitchen where Dennis keeps everything running smoothly. He insists on preparing the ingredients himself, butchering the meat, filleting the fish and preparing homemade pastas. Dennis is a member of the Slow Food Movement and uses many organic ingredients.
When a restaurant purchase fell through in the city, Dennis went to I Tre Merli in Soho as executive chef for Paolo Secondo and Pietro Pagano of Genoa, Italy. He smiled when reminiscing about celebrities and tall models in black who stood at the bar and ordered lettuce without dressing, while the regular customers enjoyed their meals. This experience was pivotal in choosing authentic Italian food over American Italian food or French cuisine. Lidia Bastianich of Felidia and Del Posto, and David Burke of Townhouse and Fishtail most inspire him.
“When I moved to Stony Brook, my idea was to bring this cuisine to the Island. There were plenty of American Italian restaurants then.” He added sheepishly, “You know that I am of Irish descent and although both my parents were very good cooks, I am not Italian.”
He was recently honored by Port Jefferson’s Theatre Three for his generosity, but was sure to let everyone know, “I don’t want to be in the spotlight. I would rather just be in the kitchen cooking.”
When I asked Dennis what is the best thing about being a chef, he quickly responded, “I love what I do!” And the worst part of it? He answered just as quickly, “The hours! My wife is very understanding but I go to work when everyone else is going home.”
At Pentimento, on any given night, Dennis is working his magic on bocconcini (small bites), homemade ravioli and pasta and creative entrées that change with the season. He was relishing a Brazilian concoction with lime and Brazilian rum after a long day of doing what he loves to do. Salute! For more information, visit pentimentorestaurant.net.
Pollo Al Mattone “Brick Chicken”
1-3 1/2 pounds of natural chicken
1 Tbsp. chopped rosemary
Sea salt and Crackled Pepper to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lemon for juice
Served with French Fries and Cherry Tomatoes
Separate two halves of the chicken and remove all bones except the wing bone.
Sprinkle the skin side with olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Wrap a brick in several layers of aluminum foil. Place chicken half on a hot grill and place brick on top of it. After a few minutes remove brick turn chicken and replace brick. Grill for several minutes more. This process keeps chicken tender and keeps in juices.
Put on a plate and drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil and some fresh lemon juice. Cut cherry tomatoes in half and serve at room temperature tossed with extra virgin olive oil. Serve with french fries.