Painters' Restaurant is on
TV!!! Check us out on ABC!
by Kelly Krieger
There’s a new concept for dining out, and Painters’ of Bellport holds the secret. The key to any successful business is toprovide something unique, something of quality or in this case something magical. Who would have imagined that two dads who met while picking up their daughters at school in New York City would end up years later co-owning a restaurant?
Owners Larry Wolhandler and Steven Laird were both looking for a change and a new direction in life. Steve, a former NYC lawyer and co-owner of a rep business for fashion photography, and Larry, an artist - “the painter,” who also had previously owned another restaurant, found their way out to Bellport. They were both frequent visitors. They stumbled upon the abandoned “Better ‘Ole” (restaurant) which comes from the expression “If you find a better ‘ole, run for it”. The building needed a lot of work in order to transform its beaten down condition. The very unappealing red carpet and mirrored décor throughout had to go, and go quickly. And, so herein lies the “something magical.”
“Wonder Twin Powers Activate. Form an open airy creative space where people can dine, dance and admire art (and buy paintings by local artists).” Sorry, I think I had a 70s Super Friends cartoon flashback for a moment. But, Steve and Larry are great friends, great business partners and great creative minds. And, when all the ingredients were combined, success was inevitable.
Painters’ celebrates its 8th year this month and is looking forward to their continued success with Executive Chef Luis Marin and General Manager Ian Nelson at the helm. Chef Marin created a menu that boasts varied influences from Asian to Latin, French and Thai just to name a few. In addition, each night he offers unique specials that are not commonly found in other restaurants.
On this particular evening, we sat at the comfy high top wood tables alongside Painters’ spacious bar area. The atmosphere is upbeat and conversation flows throughout. There is also a quieter, more formal dining space. However, we were there to have a good time and that’s exactly what Larry and Steve want their customers to experience.
After reviewing the menu, we all decided on a few favorites to share. For starters, we ordered Asiago Garlic Bread (I could have eaten the entire loaf - overflowing with cheese), Calamari served with a chipolte dipping sauce (light and crunchy) and Tuna Sushi served on crispy wonton chips and paired with an Asian slaw and wasabi aioli. The combination of the wonton and tuna was a refreshing alternative to the norm.
In between our appetizers, our waitress Rachel delivered us Painters’ Purist Margarita, a Mojito and Blue Diablo (all from their new drink menu created by Greg). Yum. It was time to move on to the next course, so we shared a chopped salad (made with lentils, mesclun, maytag bleu, tomato cracked black pepper tossed in a red wine vinaigrette), organic greens, southwestern nicoise (prepared with fresh tuna, avocado, haricot verts, cherry tomato, picholine olives, mesclun and roasted potato) and mango, pine nut, and goat cheese salad (tossed in a champagne vinaigrette). Each salad was equally refreshing made with the freshest crisp ingredients that come directly from the Hamlet Organic Garden in Brookhaven , or The Hog.
Luis makes even the most basic dish look and taste complex and interesting. I suppose we could have ended the meal on the leaner side, but we had to continue with our main entrees. The Brick Press chicken grill, cooked under a brick with lemon and rosemary pan juices, was outstanding. The juiciness of the meat was held in by a crisp flavorful outer skin. Rocco’s Shrimp was prepared with a mixture of tomato, capers, fresh basil and gorgonzola garlic butter on top of angel hair pasta. And, the Pine Nut Crusted Wild Halibut was served with oven-roasted potatoes and grilled asparagus. The Wild Halibut was light and brought me back to a healthier reality after indulging a bit too much earlier in the evening. A few other standouts include Painters’ Thai mixed Grill and The Flatiron Steak. A children’s menu is also available.
And if all that fun, food and conversation wasn’t enough, we shared several decadent desserts that included a velvety Crème Brulée, Chocolate/Coffee Pudding Cake, fresh Strawberry Shortcake served on a grilled pound cake with whipped cream and a Brownie Bomber. We could not eat another morsel of food. Our evening was perfectly complete.
BY NED SWEENY
Something curious is happening on the South Shore of Long Island and Painters’ Restaurant is one of those manifestations. The sign outside of PAINTERS’ with its bold sweeps of color, sets the tone for a restaurant that is at once out of place and right at home.
The old 60’s style catering hall with its mirrored walls and red carpeting has been transformed to a Soho-style ambience with a twist that offers artists a gallery, families a fun place to eat, couples a place to get away and people of all ages a locale to have a good time.
Owners Steve Laird and Larry Wolhandler, who also opened a similar restaurant in Cornwall on Hudson just knew Brookhaven Hamlet was ready for a fresh look at what a restaurant could be when the opened up several summers ago. Larry who taught art for eight years at the American University in Paris, explains that artists from across the Island and New York City display their work at the restaurant - art that is for sale.
He and Steve, a lawyer is represents photographers, met in the city when they were both considering a move to the Island. “We wanted to make a place that was more like a community center, as well as a place where artists from both New York City and Long Island could show and sell their works.”
When it comes down to the food, the philosophy is the same-fun and delicious. “Everything is prepared a la minute from the best ingredients, including local fresh seafood and produce” And the restaurant uses some of the ideas of culinary students doing internships in creating menu specials, giving these students a showcase just like the other artists. The fun also extends to the twister board on the floor that progresses from a family version to a late night game as the evening
Painters Restaurant, 416 S. Country Rd., Brookhaven, 631-286-6264. Decorated with original art and offering multiple diversions (pool tables, video games and board games), this offbeat spot is serious about its food. You'll find a Thai mixed grill for parents and a junior menu featuring chicken "toes" and nonalcoholic cocktails. Reservations accepted.
BY JOAN REMNICK
What do you get when you cross an art studio with a recreation room, a bar, a suburban back yard and a kitchen and really cooks? If you’re lucky you’ll end up at Painters’, an off beat restauant in Bellport with multi-generational appeal. While waiting for your food to arrive, you can color on the paper that covers your tale top. Some tables, although situated indoors, are equipped with patio umbrellas (who knows why?). You also can play pool or analyze the painting and sculptures that surround you. Is that s figure of a woman hanging from the ceiling? A portrait of Leonid Brezhnev or some guy who looks like him?
The chef is into his own kind of art. Check out his crab intense CRAB CAKES, which deliver a spicy kick. SUSHI TUNA on crisp wonton skins with Asian slaw, and a wasabi flavored aioli is another zippy way to begin a meal. Or start with marvelously tender beef satays with a piquant peanut dipping sauce. A special of fresh CRAB TORTILLA SALAD with avocado , jicama and tomatoes in a lime-chile vinaigtette is a terrific pastiche of contrasting ( but complimentary tastes, colors and textures. Tender CALAMARI is fried in a spicy sweet, audibly crunchy batter. The addictive ringlets of squid come with a lively chipotle dippng sauce on the side.
An entrée special of BARBECUED PORK LOIN with grilled corn and mashed red potato is smoky and satisfying. I’m wild about the ASIAN MIXED GRILL-well marinated steak and shrimp, both succulent and grilled to the exact point of doneness-over thai peanut noodles with vegetables. ROASTED LONG ISLAND DUCK, lacquered with an orange ginger sauce and served with steamed bok choy and with shitake mushrooms and noodle pancake, soused in an asian hot sweet mustard and rice wine vinegar reduction, is a very pungent. A soothing option is TUSCAN SUMMER CHICKEN, the bird infused with lemon and rosemary, served over a white bean salad with summer vegetables.
A knockout special of grilled swordfish with a Mediterranean style tomato olive resish, grilled asparagus and arborio rice gratified one of the pickiest eaters I know. Although salmon with a thai red curry sauce and sticky rice may please those who crave strong asian flavors, others like myself may find that the sauce comes close to overpowering the delicate fish. A more felicitous conbination is sesame crusted ahi tuna.
by LINDA LEUZZI
The first thing you notice is th art work. The canvasses display the surreal influences of Dali to th e quirky magic of Disney to something in between. "It's a potpurri of artists" explained manager Ian Nelson, glancing back at the walls of Painters'. "Larry was teaching art in Paris, France in the 80's so the theme of the restaurant is European." Nelson was referring to Larry Wolhandler, who owns Painters with partner Steve Laird, an attourney. Wolhandler and Laird, who also travelled extensively in Europe, were drawn to the cafes and bistros that offered art along with a meal.
While the paintings and the tables topped with crisp brown paper and jars of crayons give the place a Bohemian air, its the food and friendly service that stand out. Painters',which seats 175 people in its 10,000 sq feet has a warm staff including lots of artists who have their work on the walls for sale.
The food is currently created by chef Luis Marin, an innovative and passionate Ecuadorian. "He's a magician with soups," Nelson said. "His French onion with Jahlsberg cheese absolutely floors people. His soups seafood and otherwise are always based on his own broths which are always simmering in the kitchen."
The chefs special menu is made up an hour before dinner. "The integrity of the food comes from its freshness, and Luis is obsessed." Nelson continued. "He uses only the freshest fish and all of our produce comes from "HOG" farm or Hamlet Organic Gardens, often picked the same day."
The owners keep an open attitude toward the workers creativity in the kitchen and everywhere in the restaurant.
The restaurant is currently getting ready to host a cast party for the Gateway Playhouse in Bellport. Then its time to change the whole menu as a new season approaches. Nelson mentioned that the new menu will probably include the very popular sesame encrusted ahi tuna. "That's what keeps the crowds coming back," Nelson said, " art and
ArtsHome & LivingFoodBody & SoulFeature StoriesBlog
A decade ago, New York City lawyer Steve Laird and restaurant owner Larry Wolhandler were looking for a new direction in life. Fate would lead them to Brookhaven. “I was visiting Steve at his weekend house. On the way to the beach we saw a catering hall for sale that had all the elements of a great restaurant,” Larry recalls. “We purchased it in 1998 and Painters’ opened July 4th weekend.” The open, airy space is an enclave for dining, dancing, and admiring art, reminiscent of cafés in Paris, where Larry taught art the ’80s. “In Europe, emerging artists show their work in cafes and restaurants, where people sit in front of paintings for several hours,” he explains. “More often than not, artwork that you didn’t think you would be interested in could catch your eye and become fascinating.” Many of the staff at Painters’ are artists who not only display their work, but participate in choosing what is shown. Equally impressive is the food; chef Luis Marin offers a creative seasonal menu featuring produce from local farmers of the neighboring Hamlet Organic Garden (HOG). Currently, Painters’ has devoted 30 percent of their space to FRESH (freshartlongisland.com), an organization dedicated to emerging artists on Long Island.
Painters’ Restaurant, 416 S. Country Road, Brookhaven Hamlet; paintersrestaurant.com
We had a delicious meal and great time with friends at Painters'. Request a high table near the bar. Lots of fun people watching. The place is packed with cool art, fun music and looked like a band was setting up for late night dancing. We had the Flat Iron steak frites, grilled Sea Bass with summer squash and the Thai Mixed grill. Chopped salad and calamari were also great. Don't miss the cheesecake! Really cute and funky staff. You must check it out. We will be back.
Painters’ is hip. Plain and simple. It’s a fun, interesting, lively place to grab a drink or a bite to eat. The walls are adorned with artwork from local painters, sculptors and Andy Warhols alike, tables are covered with brown parcel paper and have buckets of crayons on them, menus are done in a variety of typeface and their burgers are named after famous artists. The music was pumping, the art was trippy and we were looking for a good time. If you’re looking for a place to have a nice, quiet, romantic meal – this isn’t it but if you’d like a cool place that welcomes all types, then this is your spot.
We arrived around 8pm on a cold Friday and the restaurant was alive with energy, it almost made me forget it was a frigid 10 degrees outside. Our waitress greeted us with a smile and took our drink order – Eric was excited to find out they still had pumpkin ale on tap, and we ordered two right off the bat. We started our meal with an order of fried calamari. The calamari was cooked to perfection, however the batter lacked seasoning – a sprinkle of salt and a dash of cayenne pepper would have taken this appetizer to the level it deserved.
Dinner was exciting, I ordered the Thai mixed grill while Eric had the flat iron steak. My entrée consisted of steak and shrimp skewers over julienned Asian veggies and noodles in a peanut sauce. The steak and shrimp skewers were seasoned with the perfect amount of spice and the steak was cooked to perfection (in my opinion any red meat cooked over medium rare is a waste). The veggies were phenomenal, just the right amount of crunch to accent the smooth creaminess of the peanut noodles. The flat iron was melt in your mouth delicious, seasoned perfectly and paired with steamed, buttered green beans and mashed potatoes. Both entrees were definite winners!