Coastal Kitchen & Daiquiri Bar. Its name could mean anything. It begs the question, “Which coast?” East, with its crab cakes and classic cocktails? West, with its fish tacos and fanciful blends? Sazeracs or Planter’s Punches to dial down some Southern heat? Or should we be expecting something even further afield, like Mai Tais, Caipirinhas and Zombies to accompany jerk seasoning, pungent kimchi or coconut curry sauces?
These were the questions I had for Anthony Tartaglia, co-owner of the acclaimed Verde Kitchen & Cocktails in Bay Shore and, come this spring, Coastal Kitchen and Daiquiri Bar up the block.
As we picked our way through the future site—still in demolition and renovation stages—of this lifelong restaurateur’s newest concept, he finally answered my question. “Every coast in the world is fair game!” he laughed.
A preview of the food and drinks menu more than illustrates the zeal with which he, brother Andy and executive chef Zach Rude have embraced this challenge. It’s ambitious, to say the least, touching upon some of their favorite destinations from their many collective travels, research trips and even life abroad. The menus read like odes to young lives already well-lived.
Mofongo bites with roasted garlic, pork belly, shrimp and criollo sauce throw back to chef Rude’s residency in Puerto Rico. The Hemingway and El Floridia daiquiris, made with Havana Club Cuban rum that may or may not have been discreetly brought in from a trip that he may or may not have taken to the formerly forbidden island, appears as a specialty cocktail. Along those lines, a Cuban sandwich features house-cured ham with roast pork, dark rum molasses and ambitiously homemade medianoche rolls. Try it with an authentic mojito.
The jerk chicken sandwich with roasted pineapple aioli on Old Bay focaccia gives a nod to Jamaica’s influence, while drinks like the Funky Old Man from Martinique and Passionfruit Caipirinha continue the journey south. Exotic liqueurs and cordials and an emphasis on special and rare rums also emphasize the tropics.
“Our inspiration is heavily influenced by the Caribbean,” Tartaglia admitted, understandable as our breath puffs into clouds before our faces in the frigid construction zone that was once a furrier on Main Street. “St. Thomas, St. John, little Martinique, Cuba, the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico…. Pretty much everything down there is a big inspiration.
“There’s such care put into cocktail recipes in that region of the world, from fresh fruits like real coconut and papayas to crushed ice and aged region-specific spirits; this attention to detail and quality of ingredients … that’s where our cocktail program is heading.”
Although the cocktails skew more toward islands in the sun, Coastal Kitchen & Daiquiri’s offerings are certainly not limited to them.
“We’re adding a new-age spin on old-school drinks and snacks, though, and that’s what will make our offerings even more unique,” said Tartaglia.
So don’t make the mistake of pigeonholing this new craft watering hole as strictly Caribbean, nor of expecting kitschy palm trees or syrupy drinks. The vision here is more on authenticity and surprise versus touristy, crowd-driven gimmicks.
The scene is set with details like stucco crumbling off exposed brick that wouldn’t be out of place in Old Havana or the Marigny in New Orleans. A 14-line, steampunk-style custom tap tower made by an upstate New York company shines with brass, copper and nautical and industrial details. A 26-foot custom-built banquette and 30-foot bar—both with charging stations apropos to island-loving scribes Tennessee Williams’ and Ernest Hemingway’s modern-day counterparts—and all pub-height tables provide respite from a central space offering sports on TVs, billiards and shuffleboard.
All through the night and during each day; fire, smoke and flames burn the skies surrounding Havana Harbor. The industrial port is steeped in history with memories of a simpler time. Bartenders greet you with a smile and only the smell of rum, Cuban cigars and fresh mint can cut the smell of the fumes from the outside world… ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Smokey Towers of Havana Harbor • Dark Rum, Apricot, Coconut, Orange Flower Water, Polynesian Kiss Tiki Bitters, Pineapple, Lemon, @ilegalmezcal Reposado Float, Grated Nutmeg, Mint ? #coastalliny #havana #cocktails #rum #mint #classic #mojitos #daiquiris #coastal #bayshore #longisland #mezcal #mint #smoke #nutmeg
This melding of old and new, familiar and exotic is even more apparent on the rest of the food menu. Think pan-seared crab cakes, but with coconut red curry, green papaya salad and crushed peanuts. Lobster rolls brought to the next level with caramelized fennel, avocado, bacon, and herb aioli on homemade Old Bay focaccia. Even more Eastern Coasts, represented by broiled oysters with miso, togarashi and crisp apples and radishes, or a sandwich made with charred Korean-style short ribs topped with kimchi.
Yet other coasts are represented by upscale favorites like moules frites with garlic chardonnay butter and hand-cut fries, burgers served on toasted house-baked buns, seared tuna BLTs and pan-roasted flounder tacos with grapefruit habanero salsa. And Saturday brunch takes you to New York City’s coasts with elegant items like crème fraîche scrambled eggs with mushrooms, chives and goat cheese; duck fat skillet home fries; cheddar polenta with roasted apples and crumbled sausage; and house-cured lox on focaccia as a Benedict. The drinks to get with those? Cold brew coffee and kombucha, straight from the tap tower.
So in short, the answer to my original query—“which coast?”—is really one that begs another question: Why choose when you can have the best of all of them this spring?
Opening spring 2017. Happy hours Monday through Friday, 3–6 p.m.; Saturday brunch from 11 a.m.–3 p.m.