1024 Northern Blvd, Roslyn
Ambiance: Hip, Big-City Appeal
THE PRE-OPENING INFORMATION about Barto made me skeptical. Donald Finley, who along with his wife, Annie, owns Barto, also operates novelty themed restaurants like Adventure Park in Bayville and Jekyll and Hyde in Manhattan. They’re successful operations but not known for culinary innovation. Though I need not have been concerned; while its décor and menu strive to create a modern, trendy restaurant, most of the time it delivers, mainly with the décor. It’s a handsome, if noisy place with a high, swirl-shaped ceiling, skylights, a red Venetian glass chandelier, massive pillars and walls of Andy Warhol-style oversized flowers and living greenery.
The food on the diverse, thoughtfully constructed menu is overall ok and offers an array of Italian, American, Mexican and Japanese dishes. We sampled four starters: a fresh and light market green salad featuring toasted quinoa and a few shaved radishes that’s dressed with a tangy lemon-thyme vinaigrette ($14); a warm asparagus salad with an egg purée in a mellow truffle hollandaise ($14); a generous portion of crisp, grease-free fried calamari ($15); and best of all, a beef short rib taco—a high stack of shredded meat, lettuce, lime and jalapeno cream perched on a tortilla shell ($16).
A skyscraper, jaw-busting French cheeseburger layered with grass fed beef, bacon, chipotle, onion jam, sun dried tomatoes, cheddar cheese and French fries ($19) was quite an entrée challenge even for the hungriest of diners. And the very thin cut marinated skirt steak ($32) came as requested, medium rare, with roasted kale, chimichurri and (supposedly) triple cooked potatoes.
Chef Hatim Abid’s Moroccan background is evident in his tender, tasty Moroccan braised organic chicken on an olive, lemon, saffron bed of couscous ($26). If that was Barto’s showstopper (and it was) the skimpy, dry (crying out for more mayo), overpriced lobster roll ($27) was the opposite. The wine list is exorbitant too, with prices north of $40 for its lowest cost selections.
The six sweets ($11) are all respectable. Both the dark chocolate s’mores and double chocolate cake will satisfy chocoholics. Even better is the seasonal berry cobbler. It’s smooth and sweet, extracting more flavors from the fruit than seem possible from familiar ingredients.