516 Americana Kitchen & Bar
Syosset, (516) 364-0516
The building at 4 Berry Hill in Syosset has been the scene of several restaurants. Asian, American and Belgian eating places among others have held forth at what was originally a Friendly’s.
Earlier this year, first time restaurateurs Rick and Gin Gusmano took over from the Reststar Group and have (appropriately) been giving it the all-American try ever since. Among the initiatives they’ve introduced in an effort to pump new life into this location are live (too loud) music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, half-price bottles of wine on Wednesdays, occasional Sunday musical brunches and a Monday through Friday Happy Hour that features wine and draught beer twofers. They also hired Helmer Velasquez (formerly at Cirella’s in Melville) as Executive Chef. One thing that hasn’t changed is the restaurant’s name. It was “516 an American Kitchen & Bar.” The Gusmanos have retained the 516 interstate highway logo and changed just one letter in the name to Americana Kitchen & Bar.
Their menu still offers American comfort food as their predecessor did, but about half of the dishes were added to the listings after the Gusmanos took over. Inside, the Americana looks almost exactly as the American did with a copper u-shaped bar upfront, leather booths along the walls, marble-topped tables in the middle and a variety of photos, license plates and street signs on the walls. Service was earnest but careless. The busboys were alert and on top of everything, but our pleasant waitress didn’t give us the wine list without being asked and didn’t seem to notice we were out of butter.
The kitchen did better. Three out of four starters were impressive. Both of the salads we ordered fell into that category. The large Caesar ($12) boasted a properly tangy dressing and admirably crisp crunchy croutons. The excellent Cape Cod ($12) with its harmonizing meld of spinach, apples, walnuts, goat cheese and raisins was at least its equal. The three mini Reubens ($10) on sturdy rye bread generated as much taste punch as their big brother. Only the relatively bland Baja fish tacos ($11) with sour cream and pico de gallo disappointed.
The same positive equation prevailed among the entrées where only a blah fillet of sole ($24) delivered little excitement. A homey hunk of meatloaf ($19) in a snappy barbecue sauce and a sizeable, tender marinated skirt steak ($26) on long-cut panko crumb and flour coated Tuscan fried potatoes more than satisfied. That tangy barbecue sauce also made a welcome appearance in a half rack of meaty baby back ribs ($15).
Two housemade desserts ($7), a delicious, fluffy carrot cake and a dense, flavor-filled key lime pie were the big news at dessert time, but there were no complaints about two chocolate sweets: A brownie sundae and a moist, rich chocolate cake. Nor were there many about the Americana Kitchen & Bar.
Photo by Stephen Lang