Michael Anthony’s Food Bar in Wading River is a hidden gem located on the outskirts of Long Island’s Wine Country. With an eclectic menu and stellar service, chef/owner Michael Anthony and his daughter Cassandra have created an excellent restaurant.
Cassandra shared with us the passion she and her father have for creating a menu filled with seasonal, local ingredients that can be paired with delicious wines she hand-picks. After claiming she could choose our meal for us with just three questions, we handed over our menus and left our foodie fate in her capable hands.
The complimentary amuse-bouche was a cold melon salad with cucumber and red onion. It was sweet, spicy and tangy, perking up my tastebuds for the meal to come. A warm bread tower was served alongside three delectable spreads: herbed garlic butter, olive tapenade and roasted red pepper hummus.
For starters we were served a house favorite, sesame calamari salad. Crispy calamari is joined by mixed greens and a yummy cilantro-soy dressing, topped with toasted sesame seeds, which add a nutty flavor to this delightful appetizer. A tart of luscious puff pastry, shredded Gouda cheese and a gorgeous roasted hen of the woods (grifola frondosa) mushroom came next. The Gouda was full-flavored and gooey, and the mushroom, perched on top, was perfectly seasoned, making for a warm and comforting dish. The simple salad we tried consisted of mixed greens and shallot herb vinaigrette that tantalized our tastebuds.
Next up on our culinary cruise was spaghetti with pistachio cream. I was blown away. As the chef made his rounds through the dining room, he stopped to share that he had discovered this dish on a recent trip to Italy. The secret to the silky smooth cream sauce has nothing to do with cream—in fact, there is no cream used in this dish! Instead it features an imported pistachio powder that Chef Michael combines with Parmesan cheese to make the “cream.” Unlike most cheese sauces that can be greasy and heavy, this one was light, salty and nutty, and I couldn’t stop eating it. The crunchy morsels of toasted pistachio added the texture needed to complement the creamy sauce, and flecks of freshly cracked black pepper were scattered on top. It was the perfect dish and a must-have when you visit the Food Bar.
I’d always wanted to try foie gras and, finally, here was the opportunity. Set atop crisp French toast, the seared foie gras was joined by port date compote. At first I was puzzled by all of this sweet with something I perceive as very savory, but once I tasted it, putting all the elements together in a forkful, I got it. The foie gras was smooth, creamy in texture, and melted in my mouth. The combination of the sweet elements and the rich foie gras had me going back for more, testing the flavors in my mouth over and over, until I’d finished the whole thing!
Our final savory dish came in the form of a seared duck breast with an apple and apricot chutney and a delightful Parmesan panna cotta. I loved the combination of apple and apricot with the crispy seared duck, and the Parmesan panna cotta was imaginative and absolutely delicious.
Moving on to dessert, we were treated to a decadent chocolate terrine that tasted as wonderful as it looked. Chef Michael told me I had to try his ricotta fritters, which came out warm and dusted with powdered sugar—think of a zeppole you would get at a fair, but with more flavor and a moist center. They were some seriously good fried eats. Topped with some beautiful sugar work, these desserts were a feast for the eyes, as well as the stomach.
Michael Anthony’s Food Bar has fabulous food. It’s a place where you feel comfortable and the staff goes the extra mile to make you feel welcome.
Michael Anthony’s Food Bar is located at 2925 North Wading River Road in Wading River. Call 631-929-8800 or visit michaelanthonysfoodbar.com.