All about LI’s new Italian restaurant Elaine’s, now open in E. Setauket


Elaine Micali compared the sensation of stepping into her new East Setauket restaurant as an “an out-of-body experience.”

“What I said to my friends was that it was like having a wedding, a baby and moving into a new home all on the same day,” she said. “Those emotions were so overwhelming.”

Elaine’s Restaurant and Bar opened April 4 and marked the realization of a lifelong dream for the 62-year-old schoolteacher-turned-tutor who says her passion for food and cooking “is in my blood.”

[Keep scrolling for photos.] 

It’s one that she says grew out of her family’s Sunday feasts in Brooklyn, as well as childhood trips to Europe.

“I started in the industry when I was about 14 years old and kept going back to it through high school, in college and after I became a [special education] teacher,” said Micali, who spent a decade working as a catering manager at Pentimento Restaurant in Stony Brook until it closed in 2021. “My husband’s family is in the restaurant business and it’s just never left my system.”

Billed as an “elevated casual” Italian eatery, Elaine’s took over the space at 316 Main St. that was most recently occupied by the Japanese restaurant, Tai Show North, and which once housed a post office.

Micali and her husband, Enzo, have put their own stamp on the property with a six-month gut renovation that has seating for about 120 along with an outdoor area.

“We love design, we love a project,” said Micali, the daughter of an Italian-American mom and an Irish dad. “So just add this to our repertoire of projects.”

The overhaul — from the electrical work to interior design to landscaping — took shape with the help of all-local contractors and businesses, including Frank Restucci of North Country Electric, Nancy Munch of Open House Country Flowers & Interiors, Shawn Keane of Olde Town Gardens of Setauket and Brian Dusek of BNR Construction.

“I told them what I wanted and they made it happen,” she said. “It takes a village.”

Executive chef Josue Trejo — “I feel like my Sicialian mother-in-law entered his body,” Micali joked — also worked at Pentimento, which Micali and her husband had initially hoped to buy.

Now she’s grateful that the old hibachi and sushi spot opened up on Main Street.

“We were always looking around and this place became available,” she said.

For Enzo Micali, the draw to restaurants comes naturally, as well. As a 10-year-old, he began working at the Astoria, Queens, deli owned by his older brother, Peter and later worked at his brother’s restaurant and catering hall in Bayside, Queens.

Now 64, Micali’s husband works as a technology executive. He keeps his Bronx upbringing under Sicilian parents close with menu items like the $29 Bronx Meatballs and the $28 Bronx Antipasto platter, along with an eggplant parm hero available at Elaine’s bar.

“Two years from retirement and now he’s a restaurant owner,” Elaine Micali said with a laugh. 

But she predicted that the restaurant that bears her name will be a smash in East Setauket.

“This is the first one,” Micali said. “Maybe not the last.”

Elaine’s Restaurant and Bar is at 316 Main St. in East Setauket and is open daily. The hours are as follows:

  • Monday through Wednesday: 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Thursday: 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Friday: 4 p.m. – 11 p.m.
  • Saturday: 3 p.m. – 11 p.m.
  • Sunday: Opens at 3 p.m. for Sunday dinner 


All photos were taken by Andrew Theodoarkis of Yellow House Images.

Top: Inside the brand new Elaine’s Restaurant and Bar. (GLI Photo/Andrew Theodoarkis, Yellow House Images)

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