FINE DINING FLIP-FLOPPED
The place is simple, much like the island itself, with a décor that’s wood lined and draped in white linen. A setting sun borrows from coral lighting fixtures to create an amber glow that completes the ambiance. Extra Virgin Bistro, the new kid on the block in St. John, is owned and operated by Ryan Costanzo and Tommy Garfield, two men that couldn’t be more different. Ryan is the mild-mannered general manager whose friendly smile goes a long way to make patrons feel at home, while the straight-shooting Bostonian, Tommy, grinds out dish after innovative dish surrounded by a crew of competent cooks. There’s a lot going on in this kitchen, and all of it collides to present itself on a perfectly plated dish made with love and recommended with pride.
Outside the quiet calm of the dining room is a frenzy of activity. Flashy flambés, freshly baked bread, and melt in your mouth braised beef are pumped out of the kitchen at breakneck speeds. But there is a stop and smell the cilantro culture here as well. In fact, not only is most of the food prepared locally sourced, they grow as much of it as they can on site. The menu, consisting of meals like crispy potato gnocchi and house-made ricotta, may sound old hat, but Garfield’s signature style infuses fresh ingredients into each dish making for wholly unique flavors that are as fresh-faced as the establishment itself.
After a sumptuous meal of savory short rib, tangy shrimp pappardelle, and buttery lobster, Ryan suggested we try a dessert. We went with a naturally flavored banana pudding that would put the puffiest of white clouds to shame. Our waiter then brought over a bottle of dessert wine to complement the evening, but little did he know that we had only just begun our culinary conquest of this fine institution. A losing battle of the bulge we were all too happy to win.