Top Restaurant That’s All Jazzed Up
Located in the quaint historic whaling town of Cold Spring Harbor resides Grasso’s, which consistently serves excellent eclectic cuisine. As you enter you are often greeted by Gail Grasso, the namesake and hands-on proprietor. Grasso’s has a delicately wonderful sophisticated ambiance from the elegant spirits area to the soft yet amply lit multi-leveled dining areas. The beautiful granite-topped bar adjacent to the music room is warmly inviting. For a quieter table, take a seat in the upper level where you will find the charming main dining salon. From the main dining room you can enjoy the smooth sound of live jazz, which can be heard Wednesday through Saturday evenings and Sunday brunch. To be up close and personal with the musicians we recommend the Jazz Room. Musical director, Ernie Byrd, has been scouting talent for eight years and is also a classically trained jazz soprano. He looks for three elements; taste, style and sound. Ernie himself can be heard Saturdays and on special occasions.
The tables are lavishly draped with fine linen napery throughout this urbane eatery. The wait staff is very knowledgeable, quite friendly, and extremely attentive. At the onset of our dining experience we were provided with a basket of brick oven peasant bread, seeded flatbread, and multi-grain baguette, which was the perfect accompaniment for a wonderfully delicious trio of dipping sauces (below right); a grain mustard garlic butter spread, olive tapenade and a garlic and basil infused extra virgin olive oil.
We started our experience with a round of splendid signature cocktails. The Riveria is a specialty cocktail made of Kettle One Citron Vodka, fresh squeezed lemon, with a basil garnish. It is very refreshing and the lemon and basil garnish perfectly compliment each other. Another noteworthy cocktail is the Coconut Cooler consisting of Malibu coconut rum, Bacardi rum, crème de cacao, and pineapple juice. We also enjoyed the Balsamic Berry cocktail, which consists of Stoli Razz Vodka, muddled strawberries and Balsamic Vinegar, and topped with club soda. There is no finer way to start an evening than sipping one of their signature cocktails while listening to a taste of Manhattan’s most accomplished jazz musicians.
We began with a medley of appetizers, including a Seared Ahi Tuna with English cucumber, pickled ginger and wasabi, which fulfilled all of our expectations (above left). It was comprised of many subtle flavors that won us over. We also had the Roasted Garlic and Goat Cheese Flan (above center) nestled atop a wild mushroom ragout that hit all the points of our myriad palates. This dish was a celebration of contrasting flavors and textures comprised of mild goat cheese and the light delicate, fluffiness of flan with the earthy flavors of the wild mushroom ragout. We also tasted the Pan Seared Diver Sea Scallops, porcini dusted, with saffron cream, and caramelized sweet potato (above right). The scallops were expertly seared, incredibly tender and excellently paired with a glass of their wonderfully selected house chardonnay.
We then tasted Grasso’s Grilled
Calamari (above), which was a simply prepared,
light and flavorful dish, with outstanding taste. For our last appetizer we
tried an oyster special prepared two ways. The first preparation had Pecorino
and Pesto Baked Oysters (below left), which will surely warm the cockles of your heart. The
second preparation, the Oysters Mignonette (below right) which are typically executed with
champagne were fabulously prepared with a sauvignon blanc and diced
The first salad we tried was Gail’s Pear
Salad (below left), which
in the summer months is prepared with fresh peach.
It consisted of bibb lettuce with dried cranberries and gorgonzola in
hazelnut vinaigrette, topped with perky honey browned pears.
We also had the Arcobaleno Salad (below right) made of shrimp, beets, string beans, red
onions and Grasso’s vinaigrette. This
salad was sweet and delicious, the shrimp and beets were tender and expertly
paired with a glass of merlot. The
flavors are subtle yet the merlot will balance the sweetness of the beets and
tartness of the onion, breaking the rule that only white wine goes with seafood.
We then tasted an array of entrée selections. Our first entrée was the Seafood Cioppino (below left) in a tomato and saffron broth. It was bursting with PEI mussels, little neck clams, diver sea scallops, and shrimp over perfectly al dente linguini. There was an appropriate amount of heat with every spicy bite of fresh plump seafood. Next was the Paella Risotto (below right), made with shrimp, scallops, chicken, chorizo, peas and saffron. It was a lovely marriage of Italian and Spanish. The texture of the shrimp fared well with the chicken and chorizo. The succulent chicken and hearty risotto inherited the spicy notes of the sausage, resulting in their mellowing tastes complimenting each other perfectly.
Then we tasted the Veal Chop Milanese (below left) served with fingerling potatoes, and baby arugula, topped with shaved parmesan cheese. It was a beautiful presentation with the ingredients perfectly blending together for one brush stroke of culinary genius. We also tasted the Pan Roasted Monkfish (below right), served with basmati rice, sautéed spinach, and fried capers, with a tomato confit. This dish was a simple preparation of natural flavors that individually speak for themselves.
Grasso’s also serves a classic Branzino (below) served with roasted potatoes and sautéed vegetables. Our server, Antonio, brought an entire Mediterranean bass, which he artistically filleted, leaving delicate portions of perfectly cooked fish. The potatoes had a crispy outside and moist tender inside. The vegetables, broccolini, baby carrots, zucchini and asparagus were spot on. The black cod was served over spinach with garlic roasted mashed potatoes.
Our final entrée was a T-bone
Steak (below) served with vegetables and garlic roasted mashed potatoes.
The potatoes were velvety smooth and the steak was a true medium rare
that packed juicy flavor in every bite.
For the grand finale, we had three noteworthy desserts
and one exceptional after dinner cocktail called the Tiramisu Martini (above
center). The Tiramisu (above right) was light and airy, possibly the finest available in the new world.
The White Chocolate Bread Pudding (below left) with handcrafted ice cream was a
wonderful treat. The Banana Crepe (below right) is a Grasso’s specialty that many regular
patrons exclaim they simply can’t live without.
The food at Grasso’s is expertly prepared with simple ingredients brought together in an extraordinary way. Each bite of every dish demonstrated their shear adoration for cuisine that has made Grasso’s famous. Grasso’s exudes an air of sophistication that carries throughout their fine fare, charming ambiance, wonderful live musical ensembles and impeccable service.