Pentimento Serves Seasonally Crafted Dishes In A Beautiful Setting

February 16, 2021

Celebrating 25 years in Stony Brook this year, Zagat-rated Pentimento Restaurant is a great place to come to enjoy seasonally crafted, regional Italian cuisine in a Tuscan-inspired setting. And the beautiful outdoor garden terrace is the perfect setting to relax and discover the many specialty dishes.

The menu includes an eclectic mix of items including small plates (for sharing), and other updated menu choices, including the meatless ‘Impossible Burger’ that everybody is talking about. This is the plant-based burger that has all the characteristics and taste of real meat.

Recently renovated to be “a special place for people to come hang out,” the restaurant also includes a large bar and lounge area that has a very relaxed and rustic vibe, according to GM Lisa Cusumano.

“We have changed with the times to be more neighborhood-friendly,” Cusumano said. “We could see that the community needed this type of space.”

The restaurant started as a small, chef-owned business with a more formal, classical Northern Italian atmosphere in the heart of Stony Brook Village Center in 1994. It became one of the pioneers in the ‘farm-to-table” movements on Long Island, with specialty dishes made with locally sourced ingredients highlighting each season.

After completing a renovation that increased its size, the restaurant now includes “different nooks and crannies” including outdoor space for al fresco dining, side sofas, a dining bar, an area for large groups and a main dining room that still has more of a classic Italian feel.

“There are all different vibes here, from casual to formal,” Cusumano said. And, the new space allowed the restaurant to do a happy hour, making it more alluring to a wider range of patrons.

A local architect and patron actually helped with the design of the renovated space, which was inspired by some of the cool little places they found in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The outdoor dining area is one of the most enchanting aspects of the space. The patio has plenty of tables for dining and also has planter boxes filled with flowers, vegetables and herbs used in the preparation of the restaurant’s fresh-made dishes. Recently, Cusumano worked with local, family-owned, Olde Towne Gardens of Setauket to create ‘fairy gardens’ filled with miniature trees and plants.

At night the area is gently lit with hanging lights.

“There are very few places you’ll find where you can sit outside at night where the atmosphere is as relaxed and magical,” Cusumano said. “It’s like a secret garden.”

And the food selection is amazing. Small plates might include Grilled Spanish Octopus, Baby Back Ribs and House-Made Meatballs, along with Vegetarian plates including House-Made Falafel, Panelle and Burrata. Large plates include chicken, fish, pork and pasta choices along with grass-fed filet mignon. The pasta is made by hand.

The menu is coded to be vegan and allergy aware, including symbols for gluten-free, dairy-free, etc. It also lists the local farms and suppliers the restaurant sources from.

Artisanal sandwiches, available anytime, include pulled pork, lamb burger and the vegetarian-friendly sweet potato and veggie sandwich. She said of the meat-free “Impossible Burger” on the menu: “I’ve had customers complain, thinking I made a mistake and gave them a beef burger.”

Cusumano said she started in the restaurant business when she was a young teenager and worked at several places, including the Cairo Embassy over the years. She was a customer at Pentimento going back 25 years, before joining as its manager 15 years ago under the direction of Chef/Owner Dennis Young.

Educated at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in New York, Chef Young honed his craft in NYC’s Tre Merli before bringing his skills and passion to Stony Brook. A decade ago, he brought in Chelsea Taylor, Chef de Cuisine, who trained under him to execute his vision (while adding her own signature on the dishes brought out to patrons).

“We keep improving and evolving,” Cusumano said. “We travel for inspiration and also let the community say what they need. We’re there for them.”


Pentimento Restaurant

93 Main Street, Stony Brook, NY 11790

Phone: 631 689-7755