Thursday, January 03, 2008

Review: Maroni Cuisine


Maroni Cuisine has recently shot to the top (nearly) of the Zagat food ratings. It's well-known for its tasting menu, and the chef was even featured on an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay in the "meatball throwdown." This is something the website never fails to remind you of. You expect Michael Maroni to walk around the restaurant, saying, a la Ron Burgundy, "I don't know how to put this, but I'm kind of a big deal."

The wife and I were there last Saturday. That night they were only offering the tasting menu, which is $105. They make certain to tell you this when you call for a reservation (which is helpful) and that they don't take checks or credit cards. The $105 includes "whatever you drink." You are also warned that you have the table for an hour and a half. Yikes.

The location is nice, just off Northport Bay, in little, cozy downtown Northport. Parking is convenient--we found a spot in the park across the street. But the dining room is tiny. It holds maybe 10 tables.

I counted 17 courses in the tasting menu, and you get a clean, small plate with each (more or less). So, people are constantly putting stuff on your table (sometimes three courses at once) or taking it off. You feel like you're in competition with the wait staff to eat your meal before they take the food away. Not exactly a relaxing dinner.

I don't know how often the tasting menu changes. But this setup was just weird. It was a hodgepodge of Italian, Asian (including sushi), and American (I guess). I won't go over all 17 courses but will highlight the hits and misses.

Hits: meatballs (tender and mild in flavor); lobster bisque (sweet); potato chip with crème fraîche and caviar; eggplant parmesan; and scallops in a manilla clam sauce.

Misses: chicken dumpling with ginger (no flavor); BBQ spare rib (stupid idea, stupid presentation [cole slaw on the rib like it's some f*cking pulled pork sandwich], heavy sauce); prosciutto di parma (boring); asparagus with carrot-ginger dressing (tasted all right, but this should not be an individual course in a tasting menu); a kobe beef cheeseburger (I love beef, and I love fat, but this was one of the worst hamburgers I've ever had); and dessert (again boring).

I had a glass of Pinot Noir (they didn't have Zinfandel), and my wife wanted a Bordeaux. They left the bottle of Bordeaux, and there was no separate charge for wine on the bill. So that was nice.

All in all it was an OK meal. I don't get what all the hoopla is about. Some stuff was very good, some was very bad. But it was all very simple. Nothing blew my mind, and I felt I could do it all, myself, just as well if not better. Some stuff I know I can do better, because I do it better. When I order a tasting menu I want complexity and artistry. Not a pork rib with cole slaw on it.
Two people, tax and tip = $265

3 out of 5 stars

Maroni Cuisine
18 Woodbine Avenue
Northport, NY 11768

17 Comments:

At 4:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I commented before. From what I understand, they don't have a liquor license, to get around that they give you the wine for "free" I don't doubt the cost is factored into the price. We went in November and it was $100 a person, so I guess it went up $5. For me it was fun to do once, but I don't think I'll be back.
I do agree about the race thing. I felt like they wanted to make sure you're out of there in 90min

 
At 11:04 AM, Blogger Butter lover said...

Thanks for clearing up the charge for booze. I took my remark out of the review.

 
At 11:57 AM, Anonymous shannon said...

Hi butterlover,

In the last few months, you may remember receiving an email invitation to become a part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher Program. With all the recipe-writing and food photography to be completed, we know emails can easily get lost in the shuffle, so Foodbuzz would like to re-extend our offer of inviting you to be a part of our food blogger network. I would love to send you more details about the program, so if you are interested, please email me at Shannon@foodbuzz.com.

Cheers!

Shannon Eliot
Editorial Assistant, Foodbuzz.com
shannon@foodbuzz.com

 
At 12:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This place is a complete rip-off. Seriously, I do not mind paying $105 for a meal, but not at this place. Most of the food is completely soaked in butter and/or oil to the point of making it impossible to determine what anything tastes like. What isn't soaked in butter or oil is deep fried. The review is right on that there is not sense to the type of dishes they serve. Obviously Mr. Maroni thinks way too much of himself as is evident of his comments that he doesn't like when people make certain requests at restaurants. His elitist view only tells me that he is not a good chef because he cannot alter his dishes to accomodate his customer's tastes....either that or he's just too full of his own ego. Newsflash...meatballs are not hard to make and there is nothing at all special or different about these other than you pay $105 to sample them. Besides, do you really want to pay $105 for eggrolls, meatballs and mini-hamburgers? I urge everyone to boycott this place and send a message that people on Long Island are not a bunch of rubes.

 
At 4:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK... got a gift cerfificate to go to this place... 8:30...I like the Beatles.. but NOT as loud as it was while eating 'dinner".. When i made reservations, no mention of price.. When we sat down, all we were asked if allergic to anything- since we were not.. immediate servings with inaudible description due to John, Paul Ringo and George in the background. Some of the tastings were quite good, some so so - The Kobe beef mini burger ..ehhh... good chuck chop sometimes beats the 'name brands' Ironically, contrary to one blogger, the Memphis Rib was good.. .was the largest porton of any of the tastings. Would I go again? NOT... was way overpriced, even if wine was included.. For two... withw tax and tip July 2008 - $300. Note: Every year abot 10-12 of friends from HS go out to dinner in Astoria to an excellent restaurant - Ponitcello - we have a private room, with personal wait staff, lots of good wines... it has NEVER cost as much.. and the food is exceptional...I;ll stick with my 'Goombahs" (please dont take this as an ethnic slur -as this is what we call ourselves as we are predominately Italian and Greek Americans)

 
At 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm shocked by many of these comments... I live in upper Westchester, and I used to live out in Northport. Maroni's is the only restaurant for which I will trek all the way out to Northport for a meal. It is a 2 hour drive now, and we're quite looking forward to our reservations on Friday. Expensive? Yes. But well worth it. And the Kobe beef burgers are spectacular, regardless of what a few people have complained about... It's not a place where you go to have a "quiet, quaint dinner." It's a place where you go to eat fantastic food, have a few drinks, and enjoy the company on those you are with. The biggest table they have is for 6, and we routinely cram 7. There was one time where they lost our reservation, and were so kind as to seat us at the restaurant next door and STILL serve us their tasting menu (this was back when they actually had a regular menu on weekends). We routinely go for special occasions, as it is definitely too expensive to just stop by on a regular basis. Zagat gives Maroni's a 28/30 for food, and it is well worth it. (Consider that Zagat rarely gives 26, 27, 28, and almost never, if ever, a 29 or 30). Michael is a fabulous chef, and I do believe he cooks whatever he wants to on any given night. Don't go if you are a vegetarian or expect to be able to pick and choose the ingredients in your meal. If they are going to bring you something you don't want, tell them not to... Ask them to give you double helpings of the meatballs or the lobster bisque. Memphis rips are fantastic as well (and I'm not a fan of ribs OR coleslaw in general). WELL worth it!! And to the reviewer who suggested that Long Islanders boycott? Please do! It might make it less difficult for those of us who know how to appreciate a good thing to get a more timely reservation! =)

 
At 6:21 AM, Blogger Butter lover said...

"Ironically, contrary to one blogger, the Memphis Rib was good..."

That was me.

"Zagat gives Maroni's a 28/30 for food, and it is well worth it."

Well, regular Joe's like you and me vote on the ratings for Zagat's, so I don't place too much stock in the ratings. Though I do look at Zagat's, myself, for suggestions. You love the place? Good. Life is short. I'm glad you found a place you enjoy. I happen to disagree.

 
At 1:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have eaten at Maroni's multiple times and continue to find it one of the best eating experience's in the area. We go all over Manhatten and the east end and this is still tops for us. We actually just had the tasting menu at the 1770 House in East Hampton and while the ambiane was excellent and the food was great it was no Maroni's. How anyone could not like the kobe cheeseburgers and ribs is beyond me they are awesome. And granted 250 dollars is a lot of money to spend on a meal there are many great places on Long Island where drinks included that would be much less. This place deserves the 28 it got from Zagats!

 
At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Jeff said...

Hi Butter Lover - This is a fun blog. I found it by googleing Maroni Cuisine. While I don't agree with your maroni review, I enjoyed reading it. I also am interested to try Louis XVI which you seem to love. It's a long drive from Nassau for us but some day when I have a baby sitter I am going to give it a try for sure. I am also going to keep an eye open for that salsa!

 
At 1:15 PM, Blogger Butter lover said...

@ Jeff: compliments? Is this some kind of trick?

Yeah, I still say Louis XVI is the best place on Long Island. Those French weinies better comp me a meal one of these days for all the praise I give 'em.

 
At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Jeff said...

Yes Butter, compliments believe it or not. But not about you views on Maroni's I had dinner there last night and loved (90% of) it. The free wine is not great I have to admit. Sometimes I have brought a bottle but I am too cheap to do that normally.

 
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