Armonk resident and Byram Hills High alum Francis Leone is new to the restaurant game with the 49-seat Tauk Kitchen & Bar, a New American eatery with an emphasis on seafood that opened April 27. And while his dining industry experience is limited to working for his Uncle Richard at Emilio’s of Morris Park in the Bronx, he’s always been a big foodie. “I spent a lot of vacation time growing up in Montauk at my family’s summer home. I still fish there to this day. The boating lifestyle, the farm-stands and fresh-caught seafood, I enjoyed it all.”
About five years ago he first thought to open a seafood-focused restaurant that captured the essence of summering in Montauk; the right opportunity came along last year when the 1,300 sq. ft. space adjacent to his parent’s dental office, Leone Dental Practice, became vacant.
The interior is refined coastal, including such design elements as a driftwood-inspired porcelain tile floor, white-washed concrete bar made to look like sand with jute ropes hanging the lights above, Montauk-style local art, and a shadowbox displaying a baseball cap signed by sport fisherman Frank Mundes (he caught the world’s largest shark and was the inspiration for Captain Quint in Jaws).
Though Leone has no professional background in design, he was the creative force behind the interior look. “My grandfather was dress designer so I think I got some design genes from him,” says Leone. “Plus I did once work with a master builder in Rye who constructed greenhouses; I watched him carefully.”
Leone has enlisted John Poiarkoff, previously executive chef at the defunct Restaurant North, to be consulting chef on the menu. Sourcing local is a priority according to Leone, so produce for the farm-stand salads comes from Yarrow Hollow Farm in Putnam County, buns from Rockland Bakery, and fish is off-the-boat (seasonal availability applies) via Montauk including black sea bass, summer flounder, lobster, mahi mahi, striped bass, yellow fin tuna, and cod. There are non-seafood offerings too: hand-blended burgers, classic Buffalo chicken wings, and braised short rib tacos with Brussels slaw. GM and bartender Sue Vitello, formerly at Gavi and Moderne Barn, leads the beverage program, offering craft beers and creative cocktails (e.g., Tauk Dirty with Aloo Vodka, Curzan Coconut Rum, Thai Chili, lemongrass, and ginger beer).
“Because I grew up here I think I know what people want,” says Leone, “A variety to the dining scene. No more pizza.”
Tauk Kitchen + Bar
|402 Main St, Armonk
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