641 Medford Ave, North Patchogue
Ristegio’s is a hometown-boys-make-good story. The name of this newish North Patchogue restaurant (it opened in mid-April) is a blend of the first names of the Lanza brothers, Richard, Steven and Joseph, the trio responsible for the restaurant. The boys grew up nearby, attending kindergarten through high school in the vicinity. In fact, Richard worked at Pat and Jim’s, the restaurant Ristegio’s replaced.
Richard, executive chef, is a Culinary Institute of America graduate who, in addition to working in Florida for eight years, knows his way around Long Island’s restaurants. He saw previous service at Blackstone’s and Passion Fish, experience which no doubt contributed to the diverse menu he constructed for the 186-seat Ristegio’s. The restaurant is a brick and stone, stand-alone colossus along an unremarkable stretch of Route 112. Correctly billed as New American, Lanza’s menu offers no fewer than 15 sushi rolls as well as Milanese and Bolognese dishes along with a French touch or two.
Physically the spacious Ristegio’s, with its two dining rooms, high ceilings, stone walls and in-your-face artwork, is impressive. The front-of-house centerpieces are a bar and dining area with televisions and live music on weekends—the noise level here equals that of a rollicking wedding. To the rear are more sedate dining rooms (especially when the doors remain closed) as well as an outdoor eating area for those seeking quiet during the warmer months.
But the offerings that matter most are on the menu and almost all are quite good. A buratta mozzarella salad ($13) is a soothing starter while a fresh multi-ingredient house salad ($8) is a step above the usual. The best of the appetizer possibilities are the lightly battered tempura artichokes accompanied by a lively lemon-garlic aioli dip ($12) and a coconut shrimp roll that blends crispy shrimp tempura with avocado, cucumber and tuna in a mildly sweet coconut sauce ($15).
For entrées, artichoke plays a major roll in a shrimp-studded angel hair, herb butter pasta dish given some zip from its glazed garlic and sliced olives ($25). A lightly-sauced garganelli Bolognese with ground veal ragu ($18) was a refined and restrained version of this robust dish. A bountiful portion of chili-rubbed, bacon-wrapped pork medallions ($23) is perfect for hearty eaters as is a generous serving of slightly chewy, very tasty marinated Denver sirloin steak on a platform of mushroom, asparagus and potato hash flavored with red wine jus ($28).
Skip the sticky, gummy, so-called key lime Napoleon ($9) and head straight for the chocolate mousse dome ($9), a chocolate-covered, turret-shaped treat.