A Bit of Manhattan Comes to Northport

Executive chef Stephen Claussell.

Executive chef Stephen Claussell.

CIA graduate Stephen Claussell, formerly the executive chef at The Mark Hotel in New York City, has transformed the old Ship’s Inn in Northport into an upscale Manhattan-like restaurant. And you don’t have to take a train to get there.

7T8 European Fusion, which opened in mid-January, is at 78 Main Street in the heart of Northport. Over a period of four months, the old space has been completely transformed into a sleek, yet cozy, eatery that seats roughly 50 people. Shades of gray and white with splashes of color, along with dim lighting, make this a perfect spot for a date night or a night out with friends.

“We’ve gotten a great response,” says general manager Chris Kurtz. “At first we were a little tentative about doing something different. We checked out other restaurants along Main Street. We checked out their menus, and we saw a lot of traditional styles [décor] with wood. We thought about going that way and playing it safe, or do we do something completely different? We were a little scared with how people would respond, but everybody loves it and says how Northport really needed a restaurant like this for the community.”

Claussell loves living by the water and grew up in Port Jefferson and is now a Northport resident. His current style of cooking is “a fusion of French and Italian with an American flair,” but he wants to start adding some Irish and German influences as well.

‘The seafood, the bold flavors, the simple ingredients, but at the same time I want to dazzle as well.’

“My favorite area is the Mediterranean and Europe,” says Claussell. “I favor Italy and France and Sicily and Greece probably the most. The seafood, the bold flavors, the simple ingredients, but at the same time I want to dazzle as well. I want people to be able to come in and say, ‘OK, I know what that is,’ and be comfortable, but I also want people to say, Oh, what is that?’ So they have a balance between comfort and trying something new. And every season the menu will change, and the wine and beer menu will change with it.”

Currently they are still on their winter menu, which features some superbly cooked meat dishes. During my visit there I enjoyed a six-ounce USDA certified prime Angus filet mignon, with a marchand de vin sauce, which means “wine merchant.” It is a classical demi-glace made with cabernet sauvignon, onions, mushrooms, peppercorns and shallots, which is then married with a hearty veal stock. The dish is served with frizzled leeks, horseradish whipped potatoes and a trio of honey glazed carrots.

The knowledge and service Greenberg provides is impeccable.

My meal was expertly guided by waiter Ross Greenberg, who has many years in the foodservice industry behind him. The knowledge and service Greenberg provides is impeccable, and he definitely has a way with words when it comes to describing the menu. He convinced me to start off with oysters from Sexton Island in the Great South Bay. As Greenberg says, “They are very focused on producing an exceptional oyster.”

Mine, which were served with several dipping sauces, are called blonde oysters because of the shell’s color.

“The oysters on the northeast coast, because the ocean is colder,” says Greenberg, “tend to be much clearer than, let’s say, a Kumamoto oyster. They tend to have a certain brininess to them which is very, very pleasant. They have a great freshness and crispness to them, and they have a slightly creamy flavor to them. And they are not overly sweet, so you have that lovely balance between briny and slightly creamy. They are very exceptional and perfect for a seaport town like Northport. People are so knowledgeable about seafood and the local offerings that the ocean gives us.”

Dessert was miniature cinnamon sugar doughnuts served with vanilla mascarpone crème and salted caramel.

Following the oysters, which were as fabulous as Greenberg had described, I tried one of their signature appetizers, risotto croquettes. They were made with Arborio rice, braised beef and three cheeses, then demi fried with horseradish whipped potatoes. Delicious! Greenberg also recommended the asparagus frites, delicately fried in a light tempura batter and served with a lemon garlic aioli. I enjoyed a lovely Le Pinciaie Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, also recommended by Greenberg, a perfect pairing for my entrée. Dessert was miniature cinnamon sugar doughnuts served with vanilla mascarpone crème and salted caramel. So delicious and light, and reminiscent of a fine beignet.

In late spring and early summer, the menu will change and will include a lot more seafood dishes. 7T8 is also in the process of getting in touch with local farm vendors to get fresh produce.

“We intend to make it our business to patronize them and to build relationships with them,” says Claussell.

Want to feel like you’ve been to New York City? Who needs Broadway when the John W. Engeman Theater is a stone’s throw away, and now Northport has a restaurant with the city-feel to match. It’s easier on the budget too!

7T8 European Fusion is open for lunch Tuesday – Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner is served Tuesday – Sunday from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. They are closed on Mondays.