8 Third Avenue
Bay Shore, NY 11706
Butera’s stands apart among Italian-American restaurants on Long Island, and there’s good reason for that. On the cusp of celebrating their 30th anniversary, the Butera family keeps their vision fresh as their brand continues to grow and evolve. The feat of opening a new location in downtown Bay Shore in September during a time of struggle for the dining industry is a success story.
“I would rather you write an honest review,” said Executive Chef Martin Butera when we spoke over the telephone. “Readers see through gratuitous flattery.”
Frankly said by someone confident in what they are doing. Brothers Martin and Gary Butera are first generation Italian-American born, who were raised on Long Island working in their father’s pizza shop. Along with Martin’s wife, Laurie, they are the founders of Butera’s. Partners Nick Zografos and David Novack also are part of the Bay Shore enterprise.
The first namesake establishment opened in Massapequa back in 1991. The franchise grew as they opened additional locations: Woodbury in 1999, Smithtown in 2007, then Sayville in 2010. In addition to the local chain of restaurants, the family empire also began retail production of their popular chicken meatballs, which are now sold in more than 250 supermarkets throughout the Tri-state area.
Opening a spot in Bay Shore was a goal years in the making, and the Smithtown location was closed in 2019 to help make way for it. While COVID-19 was certainly not part of the plan, decisions made early on worked in their favor. Repurposing the industrial building at 8 Third Ave., just off Main Street, being one of them. The space has an authentic retro vibe where garage style doors that open up the interior to patio dining do not look out of place.
While colder nights had already set in by time we made our reservations, this was not a problem. The spacious layout allows ample room for staff and patrons to circulate comfortably. Clean modern lines and black linen napkins signaled that this was not one of those nostalgic Italian eateries of yesteryear with checkered tablecloths or tourist trade paintings on the wall.
Ordinarily we may have gone for one of the pasta dishes, but there was an incident of forgetting to put a frozen lasagna in the freezer promptly after grocery shopping over the weekend, after eating it for days on end we were so ready to have something else. For me that was the pistachio crusted salmon in Limoncello sauce, with tomato risotto cake. For my husband it was the double-cut pork chop – our jaw dropped at the sight of it on the plate, for it was the largest pork chop we had ever seen.
“That was not prepared just for your benefit!” Martin Butera said emphatically when he came to visit our table wearing donning a white chef’s coat and facemask that matched the bandana on his head when he came out of the kitchen. “A double-ribbed pork chop is our standard size, lightly marinated and grilled to lock in the flavor.”
This butcher shop style entrée is a signature dish of this location. Because Butera’s does not believe in cookie cutter formats, there are many bold menu departures from its sister locations, making the Bay Shore site part of a chain but still unique unto itself.
My salmon on the other hand is a staple favorite, which they also offer in other Butera’s locations. The sauce created with the classic Italian lemon liqueur is a sublime creation that compliments fish and seafood dishes, while the crisp and tender risotto cake was an unexpected treat.
The Bay Shore location also has 27 different selections on their wine list, as well as a nice range of local craft beers and artisan cocktails. If we have one regret, it is that we did not pop for one of their tempting salads or a side of vegetables like the broccolini with garlic and oil – because everything is served à la carte, ordering one is a wise idea to pair with many of the main course selections.
We did however leave room for dessert. I had heard great things about their tiramisu, and like a proud parent, Martin heartily endorsed my decision. We were thinking of
sharing it but my husband’s ears perked when our waiter mentioned the rainbow cookie cheesecake. Both exceeded expectations, and that’s saying a lot because a good tiramisu can be tricky, but this creamy confection was all that tiramisu can and should be. However it was the rainbow cookie cheesecake that was the star of the show – again only offered in the Bay Shore location – the two iconic New York Italian treats married together as one beautifully.
More customers started coming in as prime dinner hours approached, and Martin busied himself socializing with families at the tables with familiarity and ease – a strong testament to its popularity in the neighborhood after being open for only a few short months.
Butera’s of Bay Shore also serves full brunch, lunch and bar side menus, and offers catering services both on and off-premises. For the holidays Butera’s has money-saving gift card promotions on their website, buteras.com.
Hours of Operation:
- Monday through Thursday: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m./Dinner 4:30-9:30 p.m.
- Friday: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-3:30pm/ Dinner 4:30-10 p.m.
- Saturday: Lunch noon-3:30 p.m./Dinner 4:30-10 p.m.
- Sunday Brunch: 11 a.m.-3 p.m./Dinner 4-9 p.m.
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