ARIA MELANIE ON THE LAKE
240 W. Main St., Bay Shore
Ambiance: Waterfront, Culinary Pleasure
ARIA MELANIE ON THE LAKE in Bay Shore had big shoes to fill. It opened earlier this year where The LakeHouse had been and diners were accustomed to eating at one of the best restaurants around. They no doubt expected more of the same with Aria Melanie. Fortunately, they got it.
Some restaurants are comfortable. Some are delectable. A few, like Aria Melanie, strike a genial balance between the two. Some dishes are better than others here, but none fail and many are unassailable. Owner Fred Mandato, who likes to eat, teamed up with Fabrizio Perinelli, who likes to cook, after the Huntington financial advisor had secured the restaurant’s site in April.
For the next three months, Perinelli, the Italian Huntington-based chef, prepared sample dishes for Mandato. Together, the two constructed a menu for their new restaurant. Simultaneously a new rear patio, ambient lighting, outdoor carpeting, floors and wainscoting were installed.
Perinelli, who has seen previous assignments with gifted executive chefs at Piccola Cucina in Manhattan, and Amarelle and Piccolo on Long Island, has gone into high gear with unpretentious enthusiasm. He’s created Italian- and French-influenced dishes, including a hefty portion of noteworthy fritto misto, which includes fried calamari, shrimp, scallions and zucchini with an almost popcorn-like crisp and a slightly chewy texture ($14); a mammoth, warm pan-seared duck breast salad featuring shards of tender, medium-rare meat ($16); mellow, soft, fall-away slowly braised short ribs paired with risotto ($32); creamy, rich, perfectly seasoned gnocchi ($18); and fresh, colossal shrimp, meaty and marvelous with peas, chipotle sauce and risotto ($28). All dishes were as well arranged as a painter’s palette.
Desserts ($8), of which only two of nine are made on the premises, are not as wildly satisfying as appetizers and entrées. There is a deeply flavored chocoholics dream-come-true truffle, but the lemon Charlotte Royale is dry. The two individual tarts and somewhat better Grand Marnier crème brûlée are nothing to get excited about. But the view of the serene Lawrence Lake certainly is.