Waterfront Spanish Tapas Restaurant Opens in East Moriches

Paella—offered three ways—is among Coral Restaurant’s most beloved dishes.

A new waterfront restaurant is bringing a tapas-style cuisine to East Moriches.

“The inspiration was to have a restaurant different than what’s around since there are no tapas places,” said Rino Schiano, general manager at the Coral Restaurant, a new tapas-style cuisine restaurant in East Moriches, housed in the same location where The Water’s Edge Restaurant used to be last year.

Born in Naples, Italy, Schiano and his family moved to the other side of the Atlantic when he was a child. His family has been involved in the restaurant business in Naples, New York and elsewhere. “I am very passionate about this business and continue to love it even though I’ve been in it for more than 30 years,” he said. He also owned several restaurants on Long Island.

Coral Restaurant, which offers more than just tapas, opened officially in August. It took about a year to remodel the inside of the restaurant (it now has more of a “simple modern design” and feel to it) after the property had been bought. There are plans to renovate the outside seating area as well.

“The current [clientele] is mixed, some [are] from the neighborhood and some [are] from other areas,” Schiano said. “They are food explorers who enjoy the different style that we have [and] also enjoy our bursting flavors.”

While a Spanish influence is evident on Coral Restaurant’s menu, the restaurant’s top chef takes a different approach to his dishes. 

In the kitchen is executive chef Alex Bujoreanu, who has spent the past couple of years doing consulting work (for places such as Toro Tapas & Tequila in Patchogue, Bota Tapas & Paella Bar in San Francisco and another restaurant in Romania) before landing his current role at Coral Restaurant. “I come from Spain,” he said. “I come from Marina Bay, a place [that] is very similar, so, for me, it was easy to [make] the decision. I feel [like I’m home].” While the Spanish influence is evident on Coral Restaurant’s menu, the restaurant’s top chef takes a different approach to his dishes.

“I try to do a healthy cuisine,” Bujoreanu explained. “For that, we don’t work with butter, flour, canola oil, etc. All the seafood and fish are [caught in the wild]. Also, we have organic pork with no cholesterol or trans fat. I like to [add] a touch of molecular cuisine and transform the classic dishes on something more modern.”

Currently, Coral Restaurant offers its customers two menus—lunch and dinner—each with raw bar listings, which include options such as Fresh Oysters and Little Neck Clams. The tapas menu features customer favorites such as the Chilean Sea Bass and Clams (wild bass, fresh baby spinach, chives, fish stock, albarino wine and clams); and the Secreto (organic pork, purple mash potatoes, micro greens, edible flowers and fresh vegetable). Other bestsellers include the three options off the restaurant’s paella menu.

“Creating the menu, I think, is hard work, trying to put together all the Spanish ingredients and making [them] work with an American palate,” Bujoreanu said. “The menu, we try to change it seasonally, bringing [in] new local produce like duck and eel.”

Coral Restaurant works with local vineyards to pair their Spanish-inspired cuisine with the best sips on Long Island.

Coral Restaurant’s menu also has several entree items, including Coral Burger, Dry Aged 18-oz Rib Eye, Grilled Cornish Hen and Grilled Lobster.

“As chef I like to create also the drink menu, getting the best Spanish wine and having some wines from rest of world,” he said. “We started working with Paumanok Vineyards and some [other] vineyards. The reaction [has been] pretty good, having the Spanish food and the [local] wine flavor.”

The restaurant has Spanish beers available, including Estrella Galicia, and local craft beer (Great South Bay and Greenport, just to name a few). Many of the signature cocktails use Spanish liquors, including Patxaran, Licor 43, as a base The cocktail menu lists a Coral Peach Sangria without a recipe (the ingredients are a secret). Other cocktails include the El Classico (Milagro Silver, Grand Marnier, splash of lime juice, splash of sour mix, orange juice); and Mango Mojito (Bacardi Mango, mint, lime, club soda, sprite).

Coral Restaurant has already hosted its first celebrity. “Michael J. Fox was just in the area and some of his friends recommended he come here,” Schiano said. Photos can be found on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Overall, guests seem to be responding positively to one of East Moriches’s latest restaurants.“I use comment cards so I read them all,” he said. “[Customers] are very excited for the spot and the different type of cuisine.”