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Pentimento

93 Main St. Stony Brook, NY 631-689-7755

Roasted butternut squash tortelli are served at Pentimento

(Credit: Newsday / Peter M. Gianotti)

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Critic rating: 3

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Type: Italian Price range: $$$ (Expensive) Description:

Cozy, warm, openhanded, Pentimento understands balance, in ambience and on the table. The veteran restaurant keeps refining and renewing itself, now starring with Italianate tapas, delectable pastas and savory-subtle main courses.

Hours: Open seven days, noon to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday; 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday. Weekend reservations recommended. Major credit cards accepted except Discover and Diners Club. Ambience: Excellent Service: Excellent Credit cards: Accepted
A grilled Duroc pork chop is one of

A grilled Duroc pork chop is one of the entrees on the menu of Pentimento, an Italian restaurant in Stony Brook Village Center. (Jan. 29, 2011) (Credit: John Griffin)

In a memoir, Lillian Hellman wrote, "Old paint on canvas, as it ages, sometimes becomes transparent. When that happens it is possible, in some pictures, to see the original lines ... That is called pentimento because the painter 'repented,' changed his mind."

Be glad that Dennis Young is a restless chef. Each season, he has refined and enhanced the cuisine at Pentimento, turning it into a many-layered affair, with reappearances, underlying surprises, new pleasures.

And the glow of this polished, graceful 17-year-old dining room has become a patina.

THE BEST

These days, Italian-style tapas beckon first, fine on their own and also to spur your appetite for a pasta and a main course. Warm piquillo peppers with goat cheese, tangy orange-and-fennel salad, marinated giant white beans and savory olives, mellow grilled polenta with porcini mushrooms, beef-veal-pork meatballs, sausage with a borlotti-bean ragu, fried chickpea fritters, pickled vegetables, peekytoe crab cake finished with a caper-chive spin on sauce rémoulade - all winners. Then, dive into a plate of buttery chestnut gnocchi flecked with speck, the rosy smoked ham. Sometimes, you'll find spinach-and-ricotta gnocchi in a pork-and-fennel sauce. Perhaps spaghetti with tender manila clams, olive oil, garlic and red-pepper flakes. Or goat cheese-and-chive ravioli accented with tomato-basil sauce and basil oil. Ravioli gnudi, here spinach-ricotta dumplings, also are primo. The grilled Duroc pork chop in Port sauce stands out, as do the pan-roasted Cooper Ridge filet mignon, chicken grilled "under a brick" and meaty, grilled striped bass. Spiced apple sorbet; citrus-glazed polenta cake; an affogato, or espresso and hazelnut liqueur atop gelato; and the well-chosen cheeses are ideal finales. Commendable wines and soft drinks, too.

THE REST

Panko-crusted shrimp and fried eggplant rolls are on the dry side. Ultra al dente malloredus, a Sardinian riff on gnocchi, in pork ragu. Underseasoned Sicilian vegetable stew. Acidic fried artichoke hearts.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Artwork.