Cream cheese and jelly sandwiches aren’t exactly Michael Liebman’s thing.
“But people love it,” he admits — especially a mother at a loss for something to pack a kid for lunch.
The chef had this in mind — the love of jellies, jams and cheeses — when he set out to create a rollatini that would please the palate, and yet stand apart from the dozens of Italian eggplant rollatini dishes available locally.
Around the same time, he found himself with an extra pound of grilled zucchini.
“I didn’t want to waste it,” he recalled.
So he got to experimenting, and the zucchini became this nascent dish’s main ingredient.
With some other tweaks, here’s what he came up with:
Grilled Zucchini Rollatini
Whipped ricotta, grilled cherry tomatoes, burrata, blueberry-onion relish ($14)
“It’s grilled. It’s vegetarian. It’s been a hit,” said the longtime chef who just launched Zest, a restaurant for the fun and adventurous foodie.
On the flip side, maybe Zest is for the bored foodie, the person who’s grown tired of the same old pulled pork sandwich, for example.
Here’s what’s in Liebman’s pulled pork creation:
Pulled pork, Thai peanut sauce, apricot jam, grilled scallions, crispy shallots, pickled cucumbers ($16)
Liebman wants to reignite your love affair with food.
These exciting dishes do not blend into the culinary white noise of Long Island. If you want a burger, he says, there’s plenty of places to go. Same for a grandma slice or a Buffalo pizza.
If you want something different at Zest, he’s got you:
Grilled Lamb Sausage Burger
Grilled onions, roasted red pepper tzatziki, Halloumi cheese, balsamic macerated grapes ($18)
And if you want to try a Buffalo pizza that’s not from a pizza parlor, this has been an instant hit at Zest:
Buffalo Chicken pizzette
Pickled celery, gorgonzola, avocado ranch ($17)
Liebman doesn’t look at himself and his Pablo Picasso-approach to cooking as anything groundbreaking.
“I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel,” he said, “I’m just looking for more ways to have fun with it, because everything has been done.”
Then he paused and took note of the monk fish with mango gelato he once tested as a special.
“That’s probably never been done,” he said with smile.
Top photo credit: courtesyZest on /Instagram
Click here for the entire menu. Click here to follow Zest on Instagram. Here for Facebook. Zest also offers catering, with an extensive menu, just call 631-647-4497. The address is 298 W. Main St. in Bay Shore.