If you are looking for fabulous food, and an equally fabulous view, search no more and head on down to Oakdale on the South Shore. The appropriately named restaurant View is located just off the beaten path and is surrounded by the Great South Bay.
Owned by the family-run Lessings Hospitality Group, View offers the complete package: breathtaking water views, an elegant but comfortable dining room, wonderful service and a talented chef.
The Lessings Hospitality Group has owned the property for close to thirty years, and the previous restaurant was revamped and changed to View in 2010. Two years later the restaurant was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, and they were closed for five months for major renovations and repairs.
The vibe of the restaurant is hip and upbeat, with gorgeous flooring, chairs and tables, and a sleek, neutral color scheme conducive to calming waters and sunshine. There are no bad views at View. The dining room, which seats 280 comfortably, is completely surrounded by large windows. Even on a cloudy day it’s cheerful, and the Great South Bay will keep you mesmerized. An inside bar seats another hundred patrons, and the beautiful outdoor patio seats 120.
The food and the décor of the restaurant are in perfect harmony. As executive chef William Muzio describes it, his food is “simple, bright, clean and fresh.” The atmosphere of View is exactly the same.
“Seafood is our main focus here,” said Chef Muzio. “If somebody orders the striped bass or a cod or a tuna, that’s the star of the plate. I don’t want to overpower it. I want people to see how fresh it is. I don’t want to mask it.”
Chef Muzio orders seafood from three Long Island fish companies, and oysters come from Blue Island Oyster Company. Fresh produce is delivered daily.
“A lot of produce companies were not a big fan of coming all the way out here,” states Muzio. “They learned that if they want to do business with me, this is what I want. I want fresh products.”
Chef Muzio’s culinary journey is as interesting as the food he creates. Muzio grew up in New Hyde Park, and upon graduating high school in 1999, he set out on his own and moved to Montauk where he lived for eight years. While there he got involved with cooking and decided to go to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. Remarkably, he actually commuted to the school. During the week Muzio would attended classes, and then when Friday came around, he would spend a few hours taking several trains back to Montauk, and to his job as sous chef at East by Northeast, a restaurant he helped open. He did this for two years, and graduated from CIA in 2001. From there he spent six months in Las Vegas opening a restaurant in Caesars Palace, and then made his way back to Long Island. A friend of his needed help at the Babylon Carriage House, and two weeks after starting they made him the chef there, a position he held for three years.
Although he loved his job there, he felt like he had reached a plateau. He knew there was so much more to learn and to experience. Muzio found out there was an opening at L’Atelier at the St. Regis in New York City, a restaurant owned by legendary chef Joël Robuchon. After having gone through three interviews, and being tested on his techniques and abilities in the kitchen, Chef Muzio got the job. To celebrate, he and a friend, who was also in the restaurant business, decided to celebrate at the three Michelin star Le Bernardin, owned by Chef Eric Ripert. They were invited to tour the kitchen. By a chance encounter, they ran into Chef Ripert.
“The last person I expected to run into on a Monday night was Chef Ripert,” said Muzio. “I started speaking with him and he asked us what we do. I explained to him how I had just gotten hired at L’Atelier as an executive sous chef. He looked at me and in his French accent said, ‘Whoa, you don’t want to do this!’ I told him I didn’t have any other options, and he told me to come and work at Le Bernardin. I left my resume, and the very next day they called me and said chef would like you to come work. I made the right decision, because L’Atelier ended up closing.”
Chef Muzio worked at Le Bernardin for two years, and developed a wonderful relationship with Ripert, who he says is a most humble chef.
“The main reason I left Le Bernardin to come back to Long Island, was so I could educate the people, the best way I can on how to eat and what to eat. It’s a process. I have exposed people to crudos, and they can see how fresh and how good it is,” said Muzio. “There is nothing better.”
Chef Muzio continues to learn and bring his knowledge to View. During the winter he goes back to Le Bernadin one Monday a month to cook and to see what else they are doing and what’s evolving. It is because of this, and Muzio’s own talents and love of cooking, that has made dining at View so superb.
The number one seller on the appetizer menu is the Thai calamari which Chef Muzio created while he worked at the Babylon Carriage House. He started me off with this dish, and it was excellent. The calamari was tender, crispy and lightly fried, and was dressed with a flavorful, tangy sweet sauce. It was garnished with black and white sesame seeds and lots of chopped peanuts which added wonderful crunch. A squeeze of fresh lime juice added acidity and freshness to the dish which was served with a set a chopsticks.
Next up were delicate crab cakes in a lemon aioli sauce finished with chopped mango and red pepper. This was beautiful, delicious and fresh. For an entrée, I was served another house favorite—pan roasted diver sea scallops with chunks of Montauk lobster in a white truffle risotto, finished with edamame and blood orange gastrique. This dish was wonderful, and was one I would definitely come back for.
The East Coast Oysters were some of the best I’ve had, plump, tender and sweet and served with a red wine mignonette. Gorgeous dish, and the oysters were icy cold and refreshing.
The menu at View changes seasonally, and their current menu offers yellowfin tuna tartare in a sesame-ginger vinaigrette for an appetizer, along with stuffed zucchini blossoms featuring ricotta, speck and local honey, and Peking duck tacos to name a few. For entrées there is a Maine lobster pasta, a cedar roasted Scottish salmon, and a seafood cioppino. For meat lovers there is a root beer braised short rib of beef, filet mignon in a brandy-peppercorn sauce, or a 22 ounce bone-in rib-eye steak served with truffle-parmesan-rosemary steak fries. Be sure to save room for dessert where you can have Key Lime Pie Parfait or Valrhona Chocolate Bomb.
A three-course prix fixe menu is offered Wednesday and Thursday from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. for $32.95 plus tax and gratuity, and an extensive sushi menu featuring specialty rolls, classic and hand rolls, and sashimi is offered Wednesday through Sunday. Chef Muzio also creates a weekly special menu which highlights fresh, local ingredients he has brought in for that week. So as you can see, there are endless choices for you to choose from at View.
When it comes to drinks, beer and wine are offered along with a new craft cocktail menu featuring an organic cucumber martini, a berry basil margarita or a peach shrub margarita. Perfect for sipping on the outside deck while watching the sun set over the water. Be sure to check out their website for lots of special events like $5 Friday night happy hour, Sunday brunch, wine down Wednesdays, or tropical Thursdays. Live music on the patio begins Memorial Day weekend and will run throughout the summer on Friday and Saturday nights from 8:00 p.m to 11:00 p.m.
View is open seven days a week. Monday – Thursday from 12:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Saturday from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Sunday brunch is served at four seatings, 11:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m. 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.