Drew Dvorkin is no stranger to Bay Shore’s bustling downtown restaurant scene. As co-owner of T.J. Finley’s and Local Burger, he understands what the community wants and needs. This is why his latest project, The Linwood Restaurant & Cocktails, with partners Greg Mogil and Chef Henry Freidank, focuses on the customer’s experience from start to finish.
“When you walk into The Linwood, we want you to feel as though you stepped into a boutique hotel,” Dvorkin says. “You’ll feel a bit of luxury, but more importantly, you’ll feel hospitality and service.”
The Linwood gets its name from a historical hotel in Bay Shore in the late 1800s. “There used to be a naval base here that a lot of people don’t know about. It used to be on Ocean Avenue and was used to house naval aviators. The spirit of the old hotel was all about taking care of people, especially some of these young men going off to battle,” says Dvorkin. “We want to evoke that same concept of hospitality. Our customers are not just a number here; they’re our guests. And we want them to feel cared for while they’re here.”
The “bistro pub” opened its doors for dinner in mid-June and will start serving lunch and brunch by mid-July. Customers will find an interesting, cohesive blend of higher end dishes like Tuna Tataki and Ocean Escabeche right alongside The Linwood Royale Burger and Homemade Potato Chips.
“We do have a chef-driven menu with the highest quality ingredients and execution,” Dvorkin says. “However, the atmosphere is much more accessible and comfortable, and to me, that connotates more of a bistro feeling without the wall of pretense.”
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The most popular dish so far is Chef Henry’s Bolognese. Made with homemade cavatelli, this signature dish pays homage to his previous position as Head Chef at the now-closed Nonnina in West Islip. Other fan favorites include the Grilled Octopus with cherry tomatoes, the Rohan Duck Breast with lavender kissed l’orange vinaigrette, and the Fried Chicken Thighs with cheddar grits.
Vegetarians will also be able to sink their teeth into delicious meat-free options like the Wild Mushroom Pizzette with truffled fontina, the Burrata Mozzarella with seasonal fruit jam, and the Tricolore Salad with beets, pistachios, and crispy molten brie with kumquat marmalade pastry.
Award winning mixologist Tracy Johanna is also creating quite a stir behind the bar. Her handcrafted boutique cocktails are well researched with every ingredient and proportion as well thought out as any chef’s recipe. Admittedly, the cocktails are labor intensive and prep heavy, but The Linwood staff is proud to go the extra mile to raise the bar.
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“For lack of a better description, Tracy really is a ‘cocktail chef,'” says Dvorkin. “She spends a lot of time researching how different flavors can go together beautifully—even ones that you may not expect like her ‘bell pepper cordial’ in The Bellboy. One wouldn’t think that a cocktail with pepper juice in it would taste good, but it’s remarkable!”
The two most popular summertime cocktails are the Ocean Avenue with Tito’s Vodka and a raspberry and rhubarb simple syrup, and the Water View with Havana Club Blanco Rum, fresh watermelon, and orange blossom water. There are also four mocktails to choose from that use a variety of fresh ingredients like honeydew melon, pink grapefruit, cucumber, coconut water, mint, and clover honey.
“We also have a Cucumber Mead on tap from a local Long Island meadery. Not a lot of people know what mead is, so we have them taste it,” says Dvorkin. “We describe it as somewhere between beer and wine and liquor all together.”
Behind the bar, customers will also find their favorite macro beers along with “some really hard-to-find, flavor-forward craft beers for people that want to adventure outside of that.”
The Linwood may be in the same space that previously held Fatwood, but the décor and ambiance are completely different. Long gone are the smokers, brick walls, and southern food. Now, velvet covered chairs, deep blue paneled walls, and ornate chandeliers adorn the space. An impressive gold metal “curtain” divides the bar from the eating area, and although it’s not a sound barrier, it’s definitely a conversation piece. The peekaboo view of the kitchen adds to the “immersive experience.” There’s also an outside patio where live music can be found, weather permitting.
“The biggest part of our staff training is just be good to people,” Dvorkin laughs. “Do what your parents taught you. Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ Be nice to people and they will be nice to you. This is what a ‘service-immersive’ experience is all about.”
The Linwood Restaurant & Cocktails is located at 150 East Main Street in Bay Shore. • 631-665-1256