Opening night success for Elaine’s restaurant in East Setauket

Opening night success for Elaine’s restaurant in East Setauket

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Elaine’s Restaurant and Bar in East Setauket. Photo courtesy Elaine Micali

By Katherine Kelton

Since the closing of Stony Brook village’s Pentimento restaurant, former teacher Elaine Micali felt there was a hole in the community. She had previously been manager at the eatery that closed in 2021. She long wanted to open a restaurant of her own, though the timing never seemed to work out. Micali and her husband Enzo, both Italian Americans, seriously began searching for a location over two years ago. 

Elaine Micali always knew she wanted to have her restaurant in Three Village. “My husband and I raised our kids here. We have lived here for 30 years. I love Three Village. There were other restaurants in other towns that became available but I wanted to be here,” she said.

Formerly Tai Show North, the building that houses Elaine’s Restaurant and Bar was the perfect fit for the couple. “When this spot became available we thought this would be a great spot because we’d pull from not only Three Village, but also Port Jefferson, Miller Place, Mount Sinai and the South Shore,” Micali said. Located on Route 25A in East Setauket right across from Se-Port Delicatessen, which she calls “the best deli on Long Island,” the new restaurant is in a convenient location.

Community is of the utmost importance for Micali. “We had all local tradesmen, we have a local interior designer Nancy Munch from Open House Country Flowers & Interiors, we have all local busboys, and hostesses and waiters,” she said.

The community has similarly reciprocated the goodwill. No seat was left vacant on opening night, according to Micali. She shared that every weekend for the next six weeks is fully booked. “We want to be the place where you’ll come with your family,” she remarked.

One foodie Instagrammer Justin Hurwitz (@diningdealfoodie) wrote, “Elaine’s embraces you with warmth and sophistication, inviting you on a culinary journey unlike any other.”

The menu itself is a reflection of the home-cooked meals the Micali family loves. One of Elaine Micali’s personal favorites, the Spaghetti Augie and Ollie, is cleverly named after her grandsons. Her other favorite, which she makes frequently at home, is the Cotoletta Milanese. There is a “happiest hour” Mondays through Fridays, 4 to 6 p.m.

The Italian restaurant has been decorated thoughtfully in what Micali described as “a hip cool vibe with a nostalgic old-world feel.” The European inspiration comes from English and Italian architecture absorbed by the Micalis on their trips overseas. When planning, the couple also wanted to tie in a Manhattan swanky feel that may be more familiar to visitors.

 Elaine Micali recalled a memory from a cooking class she took with chef Jean-Georges during the pandemic when she asked him, “What would you tell someone who’s opening up a restaurant?” He replied, “Don’t do it” — though she did it anyway. 

She added, “You have to be insane to open a restaurant, there’s a lot of moving parts. It’s everything from learning about what to do with frying oil, where to get the bread from and where to source the fresh greens.”

Before opening the restaurant, Micali was a teacher in Kings Park for 10 years. She also owned a private learning center, Da Vinci Education and Research, for 16 years while working as an adjunct professor at Stony Brook University in the English Department. 

She explained why she and her husband work so well together is that “my husband comes from a business background, I come from a hospitality background, and so together we’re able to come together and really figure it out.”

The couple have managed to create a truly special Italian eatery that is already admired by the community.