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Smitty’s overreaches in Riverhead

Smitty's is the new restaurant at The All

Smitty's is the new restaurant at The All Star bowling alley in Riverhead, May 10, 2014. (Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)

I don’t usually get excited when I see the words “bowling alley” and “restaurant” together, but news of Smitty’s All American Grill, the rebooted eatery inside the All Star in Riverhead, piqued my interest. With a large and ambitious menu of upscale dishes including truffle meatloaf with wild mushroom gravy and hake fillet with Banyuls gastrique, restaurateur Chris Smith and North Fork chef John Nordin promised to take lane-side cuisine to a higher level.

The soaring multilevel space, overlooking the upscale alley, is decorated in rustic-barn meets industrial-warehouse style. Plastered with large-screen televisions, it is a fun place to enjoy sports with a crowd. No matter where you sit, you won’t miss the winning goal of a World Cup match. The bar food I sampled, including crispy, juicy chicken tenders coated in panko, Asian chicken wings with a well-balanced sauce, and addictive triangles of fried macaroni and cheese, was fresh and satisfying.

Alas, the fancier food fell short of expectations. The crab cake was so salty it was hard to judge how much crab it contained. A bowl of orecchiette with sausage and shrimp was swimming in an oily sauce that failed to bring the dish’s disparate elements together. The grilled teriyaki chicken was juicy with plenty of soy-and-ginger flavor, but the accompanying soba noodles were sweeter than any of the desserts, and the overcooked snap peas had zero snap by the time they got to the table. The ricotta cheesecake, utterly lacking in flavor and moisture and sweetness, tasted like damp sawdust.

My advice: To fortify yourself for bowling, stick to the wings and those addictive mac-and-cheese bites, washed down with a glass of Port Jeff Porter or Southampton Double White.

Smitty’s All American Grill is at 96 Main Rd., Riverhead, 631-998-3565.

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