Sapsuckers Hops and Grub
287 Main St., Huntington
You could say restaurateur and executive chef Nino Antuzzi (Red, Café Red) has a bird’s eye view of his venture into the gastro pub world, Sapsuckers Hops and Grub, from the window of his Osterio di Rustica, directly across Main Street in Huntington Village, and can be proud as a peacock…or a sapsucker. His menu—long on beers, short on food—reveals a perfectly rendered gastro pub combination of esoteric craft beers and comfort food made with carefully sourced ingredients. The grub is here to complement the hops.
The clubby room that JD’s Tap Room vacated feels more like what the board room at the Audubon Society must be like. Dark wood, stylish sconces and watercolors of birds everywhere (one of which may be the namesake, I’m guessing). More importantly, no overbearing TV in the dining room, or garish beer signage either.
The natural pairing of beef and cheese always gets to me. In this case, Alabama Sloppy Hammer ($10) featuring shredded short ribs covered by melted fontina on soft ciabatta bread could lead one to forsake cheeseburgers. Mac ‘n Cheese ($8) lovers will enjoy this one with a crusty top. Chicken Pot Pie ($15) is also wonderful with just a crown of crust ($17). Not Your Mom’s Grilled Cheese ($8.) with Berkshire bacon and tomato is as good as it sounds and The Classic Cuban Sandwich ($9) is authentically replicated. The trio of pulled pork sliders, Three Little Pigs ($8), using Berkshire pork, covered with sweet slaw is outstanding as is the cinnamon dusted Fried Chicken ($16) accompanied by terrifically crispy fries, as are all sandwiches. Their version of Shrimp Gumbo ($10) is like a bisque, very spicy and sporting four large shrimp you’ll need to take a knife and fork to handle it.
The Butter Baked Pretzel ($5) is for nibbling at the bar. Salty and sweet, it’s perfect with beer although oddly priced, considering sandwiches are only a couple of bucks more. Servers are light years beyond what you’d expect at a pub, knowledgeable on each dish.
Beer lovers can look upon the beer menu as something like an ongoing project, to be worked on over the course of an inebriated lifetime. You may briefly feel like a sap, or a sucker, shelling out as much for your hops as your grub but 21st Amendment India Pale Ale ($9), a tap special one week, had a complex taste and a formidable alcohol kick for a pint of suds. The long roster of beers are thoroughly described and cite alcohol content on the menu. A Bottle of Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale ($6) was dark for an amber beer but a treat nonetheless. A local Southampton Bier de Garde ($6), on tap, suited me just fine. With beers this good and solid, hearty food, no reason to eat like a bird. Is that enough bird references or what?
Caption: The Alabama Sloppy Hammer (Photos by Jon Sasala/Long Island Press)