Isola’s new chef brings tasty nuances to Italian cuisine


Cuttlefish ink tagliolini and prawns at Isola (credit: Felicia LaLomia)

Back in the kitchen at Isola, Shelter Island’s coastal Italian restaurant, the food is hot. Maybe what the place is best known for is its brick oven pizza – and even though it’s hidden across the kitchen from where I’m standing, I can feel it heating up the space on this unusually warm May day. But today, I’m not here for pizza. I’m much more interested in a new pasta dish – handmade squid ink tagliolini and shrimp.

Chef Sixto Coronel stands in front of several huge mounds of fresh dough. But the one in his hands is different. Instead of a light beige color, this one is dark – blackened by the ink of a squid. With one hand on the dough and the other on a crank, he guides the pasta sheet through the pasta machine to flatten it. Coronel repeats the process a dozen more times until the drop of pasta flattens into a thin, delicate sheet.

Chef Sixto Coronel prepares the squid ink pasta in Isola (Credit: Felicia LaLomia

“It’s only made with eggs, flour and squid ink,” he said, draping the leaf like cloth over the wooden surface. “That’s it.” He sprinkles it with flour, sprinkles the black dough with dust and folds it back. From there, he takes his knife and guides it through the folds, cutting with insane speed and precision until he ends up with scratches of pasta. He runs his hands through the perfectly wide quarter-inch dough and twists the pieces into a small nest.

Coronel, who has 25 years of experience in Italian cuisine, previously worked under Frank DeCarlo of the former Barba Bianca in Greenport, as well as Mario Bitali and Michael White. After spending last summer working at Isola, he’s back as Executive Chef adding new dishes to the menu. One of them is squid ink pasta, which has become one of the most popular dishes on the menu.

“It’s a sexy dish, isn’t it?” Said owner Brad Kitkowski. “There are shrimps. There is seafood. It was one of the first things he did and it was a real winner.

The finished dish is shiny and shiny. Chopped cherry tomatoes poured into a white wine broth. Jumbo prawns are layered with parsley, garlic and noodles. It tastes simple and fresh, as if it had been cooked by an Italian grandmother on the coast.

“The ink adds a nice fishy flavor,” Coronel, from Ecuador, told me. I agreed. Imported from Italy, it’s subtle and not too potent and in combination with the tender shrimp it gives the same amount of ocean flavor when a gust of wind blows that fresh aroma from the ocean near the beach.

“The nuances it brings to some of our most popular dishes out there, it’s amazing,” Kitkowski said. “He tries new things, then puts them in front of me and says ‘What do you think?’

In addition to squid ink pasta, Coronel has added gnocchi con funghi, a mushroom and ricotta pasta dish, and is testing a rotating weekly list of specialties ranging from grilled octopus and clam spaghetti to panna. cotta.

Isola is open Tuesday to Thursday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday to Saturday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

15 Grand Avenue, Shelter Island Heights

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