Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas wowed guests at Island Tasting last year with their risotto al funghi. The slightly nutty and completely fresh flavors of the black truffles, the comforting creaminess…it was a foodie’s delight. Executive Chef Ryan Keough will again be on hand at the annual event to benefit Island Harvest on Thursday, Nov. 17.
“It’s a way for us to showcase the things we do best at the restaurant,” Keough said. “It’s a good way for us to get out there and show our old friends what Spuntino is still all about and some new friends what Spuntino can offer them.”
Before the big night, foodies will want to head to Garden City and make new friends with these essential dishes.
Risotto Al Funghi
The much-raved about dish is back on the menu this fall and this year, Spuntino is shipping in white truffles from Alba. Though they cost the restaurant 10 times more than black truffles, Keough said they’re worth every penny. “They’re super-delicate and rare to find.” As for the dish, which includes Vialone nano rice and mascarpone cheese, it’s become a staple on Spuntino’s fall and winter menus. “It’s comfort food. Truffles only come out during certain times of the year and right now is a high point.”
Keough and his co-workers spent the summer rethinking the pasta menu. “We were making some of the dishes, like the specialty raviolis, in house. We really wanted to open the door and make the entire pasta section in house, though.” They invested in a machine that allowed them to create everything from the spaghetti to the pappardelle in the kitchen and guests are gobbling it up. “That whole section is a huge highlight. People say it’s tough to find a restaurant that makes their entire pasta menu in-house on Long Island and we’re pretty excited to have that.”
Though staples like the every-popular tomato & basil remain on the bruschetta menu, Spuntino has traded some summertime classics for fall favorites. Say good-bye to strawberries and hello to roasted butternut squash bruschetta, which is made with eggplant, granny smith apple, caramelized onion and toasted garlic. It’s essentially a bite-sized version of fall. For something sweeter, Keough recommended the Amarena cherry & goat cheese bruschetta. “It’s sweet with a tangy flavor that comes from the goat cheese.”
Spuntino has made a name for itself serving small plates made for sharing and starting conversations. But when a larger crew (say, a whole office) comes for a night out, Keough suggests ordering a Piattoni or three. “These plates are meant for a much larger table to enjoy a bunch of different things from the menu on one plate.” One option, the mixed grill, is a meat-lover’s paradise. The dish comes packed with lamb chops, flat iron steak, Italian sausage and grilled chicken. The cast-iron roasted chicken is a little tamer but still mouth-watering: it’s a roasted chicken with shallots, olives and juicy, fresh plum tomatoes.
Food can bring on nostalgic vibes, especially around the holidays. For Keough, the apple crostata is one of those dishes. He picked up this recipe in Boston 17 years ago and it’s followed him ever since. “This recipe is very simple, but there’s a history on it. It was one of the original dishes I brought with me to Spuntino.” Keough makes the dessert with a puff pastry, cinnamon apples, brown sugar and a little bourbon. “We bake it until it is crispy and golden brown on the edges and top it with vanilla gelato and salted caramel.” You’re not too stuffed for dessert.