7 Gerard St., Huntington
Ambiance: Luxurious Fine Dining
JEMA, THE STRIKINGLY modern relaunched restaurant in Huntington, is exquisite, expensive and top-of-the-line all the way.
The sleek, completely-remodeled cavernous spot generates an unmistakable aura of luxury. Up a short flight of stairs is a glassed-in bar that offers a casual menu to all who dine at its tables. Higher still is another grandiose dining room. The main room is a place of candles, flowers, an industrial ceiling and shiny wood floors.
The creator of this extravaganza is home-shopping personality and inventor Joy Mangano. Her concept is being implemented by 26-year-old Brazilian-born executive chef Franco Sampogna, who has worked for renowned chefs in Michelin- starred French restaurants. His multi-national background is reflected in Jema’s menu, which is replete with international touches and fulfilled with local produce, fish and meat.
Even the little things stamp Jema as a special place, like the scoop of soft, high-quality butter sprinkled with rosemary salt. Sampogna’s à la carte menu changes frequently (every three of four days), making it possible for some of the dishes I sampled to not always be available. Among them were starters of homemade foie gras torchon topped with crushed hazel and pine nuts ($23) and quinoa risotto, burgundy truffle and Parmesan ($18), in which the quinoa is first cooked with the risotto, then fried and Parmesan is placed atop it in small disks. Also sampled was an especially tender grilled octopus ($16) that had been marinated for a full day.
A number of entrées will appeal to diners who prefer straightforward, no-nonsense dishes. The moist, natural free-range chicken ($32) and juicy, Crescent Long Island duck ($34) are among them, as is a hefty Black Angus strip sirloin ($39).
The menu lists only three desserts (each $15). The deep lemon flavor in the strip of lemon confit and the chocolate caramel dominated by chocolate mousse and vanilla ice cream were especially noteworthy. The smooth, knowledgeable service and Manhattan-like food here earns Manhattan-like prices as well. Appetizers are in the $16-24 range. Entrées are between $32 and $39. Wine by the glass goes for $13-20.