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The owners of Blackbird Kitchen & Cocktails in Wantagh quietly take over Rustic Root in Woodbury

Some changes happen with a flourish. Others are quieter and deliberately under the radar. So it was with the transfer of power to Woodbury’s Rustic Root, which might look the same as it did a year ago, but had a rewiring under the hood.

Last fall, chef Chris Perrotta and Frank Ubriaco, who run Blackbird Kitchen & Cocktails in Wantagh, heard that Rustic Root, a larger venue about a 15-minute drive on Route 135, was on sale, a few months later one of the his partner, Keith Giannadeo, was dead.

“We weren’t really looking for a new place,” said Perrotta, who opened Blackbird with Ubriaco in 2016. Yet they also recognized a kind of sympathy between the two places: Blackbird, an intimate bistro known for fresh pasta and seasonal cuisine. , and Rustic Root, a twice as large and slightly more casual venue that had also opened in 2016, when farm-to-table was establishing itself as an ethical restaurant guide. “Location was great. It’s not hyper-seasonal like Blackbird, but it was pretty much the same genre. He’s a bit in shape.

The new partners took over last fall, leaving the décor of the urban farmhouse and outdoor patio intact as they gradually moved the menu and adapted to an additional daily service: lunch.

What eventually took its place on the menu were some of Perrotta’s signatures, such as the fresh pasta he is known for, from rigatoni (served with a braised rib sauce) to soft agnolotti stuffed with summer corn – which the chef nearby Meyer’s Farm Stand – and topped with pesto.

“Just the fact that it’s so close is a match made in heaven,” said Perrotta, who has been hitting the farm for years, and might as well pick up zucchini, heirloom tomatoes, and “every single herb. I’m literally there every morning picking stuff. for both restaurants. ”

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Those zucchini are seared and served with salsa verde, pickled onions, and queso fresco for a vegetarian twist on tacos, an appetizer; sweet corn also goes into hush puppies with bacon and jalapeño. Small plates ($ 9 to $ 22) and salads also include cacio e pepe arancini, wings and a curl of octopus with fregola, olives, blood orange, chilli, and Meyer lemon aioli. In addition to pasta, larger plates ($ 19 to $ 50) include a heavy burger topped with raclette cheese; roasted prawns and chorizo ​​in beurre blanc sauce on polenta; seared halibut with cucumbers and jalapeño (the kitchen offers a rotation of fresh fish from Copiague’s Gra-Bar); and a seasoned beef steak with Bordeaux sauce. Sunday brunch brings buttermilk fritters, egg sandwiches (with roasted mushrooms, chives, bacon, and gruyere) and a salmon and cream cheese focaccia with all the topping; and among the desserts a crumbly maple bread pudding with homemade vanilla ice cream.

Blackbird, consistently on Newsday’s Top 100 Restaurants list, is also known for cocktails. Though the Rustic Root’s bar is smaller, Umbriaco said the drinks menu was reorganized by drinks director Elizabeth Donahue, who introduced an old-fashioned tequila, bourbon-tipped spin on an Arnold Palmer, and summer drinks. such as vodka with watermelon or tequila with honey, lime and blueberry beer. There are a handful of local beers on tap, and some wines by the glass are offered by Cutchogue’s Bedell Cellars. The coffee comes from Mongo’s Coffee in Syosset.

Both Perrotta and Ubriaco now commute between the two places. When asked where he could be found on a given night, the chef joked “On 135”. In Wantagh, longtime chef Carlos Vargas controls the fort.

Rustic Root is open for lunch and dinner every day except Tuesdays at 7927 Jericho Tpke., Woodbury; 516-364-5041, rusticrootkitchen.com

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