I am fortunate to live in Huntington, home to many fine dining establishments, ethnic eateries and top notch take out. There is really nothing you can’t get in Huntington when it comes to food. I’ve been asked on several occasions if I’ve been to Stella Blue Bistro, a relatively new casual restaurant that hit Huntington’s food scene in August 2014.
Edible Long Island editor Betsy Davidson wrote a short piece on Stella Blue when it first opened. I decided to check it out for myself to see how this eclectic bistro was doing.
I met up with Jeanne Vivona, one of four owners, who learned how to cook from her great grandmother. Jeanne and her husband own the restaurant with Jeanne’s partner Rob Koopman who is head chef, and his wife.
“My partner and his wife have a house in Phoenicia in Upstate New York, and it’s very laid back,” says Jeanne. “We decided to combine that atmosphere with our love of cooking and brought it down here to Huntington.”
The place definitely has a relaxed, home feel that is very retro. Mismatched furniture and other items from different eras are scattered around the comfortable surroundings. They include an old oven found in an antique store in Phoenicia, Jeanne’s grandmother’s chairs that have been reupholstered and Rob’s father-in-law’s table. These items sit among large prints of Jerry Garcia, Bob Marley and other musicians from the 1960s, which hang on the walls under an original tin ceiling discovered during renovations.
“It’s definitely laid back,” says Jeanne. “As far as Jerry Garcia, my husband was a huge Deadhead and loved him, so that’s where the music fits in.”
I ordered the signature pulled pork platter. A generous portion, which is smoked on the premises for 12 hours, is served with homemade jalapeno cornbread and slaw.
As for the cooking, Stella Blue offers breakfast and lunch with a southern flair, seven days a week from 6:30 a.m until 5 p.m. Everything is made from scratch using all natural ingredients, and many of the dishes are family recipes.
I ordered the signature pulled pork platter. A generous portion, which is smoked on the premises for 12 hours, is served with homemade jalapeno cornbread and slaw. It’s also served as a sandwich on a torpedo roll. The pork was pure soul food, and I could see why the dish is so popular.
Other favorites include a kale salad, chicken and waffles, the Stella sandwich — an organic breaded chicken cutlet with lettuce, tomato, bacon and melted mozzarella with garlic mayonnaise on a warm torpedo roll — and the Guantanamo Bay, pulled pork, ham and swiss with spicy mustard and smoked pickled relish on a torpedo roll. Specials, including pizza with a cauliflower crust, are offered daily, along with all kinds of fresh salads.
I was quite interested in their homemade donuts. It is very rare to find donuts on any menu these days.
“My partner visited Florida, and he saw donuts on a menu,” says Jeanne. “We decided to make them here because again, it brings you that home comfort food. People like them because they’re small. We offer six or 12 with either powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar, and we serve it alongside two dipping sauces, chocolate and vanilla. They’ve really been a big hit. We’ve made over 35,000 donuts since we’ve been here; a counter that keeps track.”
The donuts won me over, and you definitely can’t eat just one. They come out hot and fresh and they smell delightful. They were light, crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. “We make the mix and then the batter is made,” says Jeanne. “It is water-based so they are not heavy. They’re very light.”
All the baking is done in house by full-time pastry chef Leyna Senia. I also got to try a buttery crumb cake and a delectable rich and chewy chocolate brownie. Simply delicious.
Jeanne is happy to report that business has been doing really well. “Even over the winter when we had all that snow, people were still coming in,” she says. “We get people of all ages, and they love what we serve. We’ve gotten a great response to our fried chicken. Over the summer people would call up and would take it to go. Then they go down to the harbor and enjoy it on their boats. We really have something for everyone here.”
So if you haven’t been to Stella Blue Bistro, make the trip. Eat in, or take something to go and eat in Heckscher Park, just a stone’s throw away.
top photo Marisol Diaz/Newsday; bottom photo, Kerriann Flanagan Brosky