THE CRISPY PIG
243 Glen Cove Ave., Sea Cliff
Ambiance: Rip-roaring, Unpretentious Hot Spot
THE CRISPY PIG in Sea Cliff features beer flights on Thursdays. It serves water in jars. And the wait staff wears T-shirts that say “Praise the Lard,” “Love Peace and Grease” and “Body by Bacon.”
This unapologetic, American comfort food restaurant serves rustic, Southern dishes like pork belly, shrimp and grits, BBQ ribs and johnnycakes. The bar, which is part of the dining room, seems to attract an exuberant crowd that generates an awesome din. Despite its lack of gentility, it serves large portions of tasty, familiar dishes.
Still, chef Peter Kontomanolis takes liberties with these traditional preparations. When is the last time Caesar salad with braised pork shoulder and pork croutons ($10) appeared on a menu? The predictable pork belly board with peach jam and candied pecans ($12) provides another pleasing combination of flavors. The increasingly popular combination of chicken and waffles ($14) will satisfy its followers. But a generous bowl of unseasoned baked potato soup ($6) only came to life with a hefty helping of salt.
Among the mostly robust entrées listed as “plates” on the menu was a colossal pulled-pork sandwich on a king-sized toasted croissant draped with a tangy barbeque sauce and coleslaw accompanied by a generous batch of potato chips ($14). For a lighter touch, try the super-fresh, lemon-roasted pan-seared catfish with sautéed collard greens, pancetta and garlic ($21). A huge roasted half chicken with a Bourbon cinnamon glaze and plate mates like sweet potato hash and shaved kohlrabi slaw ($24) made us forget all the bland, boring chicken dishes ever endured. But the showstopper was the delicious pork tenderloin potpie in a rich cream sauce, with vegetables and a slab of puff pastry thrown over it ($22).
There are no bad dessert choices. We enjoyed a trifecta of terrific strawberry shortcake and southern kitchen favorite’s shoofly pie with plenty of vanilla ice cream and johnnycakes enhanced with apple Bourbon Foster and sweet cream.
Although The Crispy Pig has many virtues, don’t expect a sophisticated restaurant. Servers constantly clear dishes while some diners are still eating and they don’t reveal the prices of specials they recite.