Grana Trattoria Antica, located on the main drag in Jamesport, is based on the rustic family-run restaurants that owners Nancy and David Plath have visited in Italy. The eatery specializes in wood fired pizza and other regional Italian fare, but with a North Fork twist — dishes are prepared with organic and locally sourced ingredients, including hand mixed organic pizza dough, handmade mozzarella with no whiteners or additives, and handmade pasta. Meats come “from artisan producers that take great care raising, feeding, and producing their products,” according to the restaurant’s website.
Grana opened about eight years ago, and has a reputation for being consistently good, a hidden gem not so hidden on the North Fork’s Route 25.
Donning the feed bag with me for dinner was Brian Cosgrove, host of 88.3 WPPB FM’s “Afternoon Ramble,” and we opted to sit at one of the outdoor tables located in front of Grana. Inside, high ceilings and bold colors dominate, with an L-shaped bar and the requisite wood oven on show. It was a beautiful night, in spite of the occasional noise from a truck passing on Main Street.
First up, an appetizer of melanzane fritti — thick slices, spectacularly crunchy on the outside, melt-in-your-mouth in the middle, delivered by our cheerful server, Brandon. Although you can order fried eggplant all across Italy, this dish was reminiscent of the Sicilian breaded eggplant cutlets one can order in Palermo, or, if you’re lucky, have your nonna cook up for you.
For our main courses, I traveled to the Northwest corner of “the boot,” to the Piemonte region, for an absolutely delectable dish. The faggotini (“little bundles”) is a ravioli filled with caramelized pears, chopped walnuts, parmigiano, and gorgonzola dolce in a white wine cream parmigiano broth with toasted walnuts and cherry tomatoes.
The creaminess of the sauce and the pasta, offset by the sweetness of the pears, the gentle bite of the cheese, and the crunch of walnuts was absolutely heavenly. “That is off the hook,” said Cosgrove after a taste. Well put, my friend.
Brian had the special, Il Mare, a filet of branzino, clams, and mussels in a white wine broth, with tomato, olives, and caperberries, bursting with fresh, tangy flavor that didn’t mask the taste of the fish.
We also chowed down on the specialty of the house, pizza, opting for a pie prepared with locally grown mushrooms, fontina, pecorino tartufo (a sharp cheese encrusted with truffles), and black truffle oil, which provided a rich and earthy medley. The wood-fired crust was crispy and the mozzarella was creamy and fresh with very little salt, a perfect base for the umami essence offered up by the funghi y tartufi.
Other menu choices include all sorts of salads and pizzas — including a fig pizza with gorgonzola cream and another with clams — regional pasta dishes like puttanesca, amatriciana, and Bolognese, and meat and seafood dishes as well.
“True Italian cooking is based on three rules: ingredients, ingredients, ingredients,” reads Grana’s blog. The Plaths start with the best. Grana is a perfect spot a fare una spaghettata — literally “to eat spaghetti,” but also to meet with good friends and socialize.
For more information and reservations, visit www.granajamesport.com.