The Brooklyn Papers / Greg Mango

As the name suggests, the Pearl Room is
very serious about seafood – albeit with Italian flourishes.

The five-year-old restaurant, on the corner of Third Avenue and
82nd Street in Bay Ridge, is luxurious. The spacious eatery has
several seating areas, including the front room with its romantic
high-backed banquettes, the more spacious backroom with enormous
windows framed with golden drapes and the enclosed garden.

The restaurant underwent considerable renovations 18 months ago
which doubled the seating area and transformed the garden from
tables with umbrellas, to a patio topped by an elegant, waterproof
bamboo awning.

The Pearl Room has all of the amenities, including valet parking
and a waitstaff that is both friendly and knowledgeable.

Although chef Gerard Spezio has recently introduced his new fall
menu, I’m still dreaming about starting my Pearl Room dinner
with his poached lobster salad appetizer and a glass of their
fresh-brewed ice tea. The fresh lobster, a hit from the summer
menu, was tossed with seasonal fruits – including pineapple which
lent it a retro flair – over baby greens and a creamy dressing.

Sadly, the mozzarella carozza is on the new menu. While the sun
dried tomato and caper sauce is robust and full of flavor, the
fried, breaded mozzarella is flavorless and surprisingly miserly
with regard to the cheese.

Two intriguing newcomers to the appetizer list include bacon
wrapped, roasted quail served with creamy herb polenta and a
burnt honey grappa sauce, and the grilled portobello mushroom
served with herbed goat cheese, drizzled with white port wine
glaze over baby greens.

The Pearl Room also offers a raw bar with everything from Alaskan
king crab legs to a champagne poached crawfish cocktail.

Spezio, formerly of Manhattan’s Hudson River Club, has a tempting
list of options for those not so enamored of fish including pastas,
duck, veal, chicken and pork chops.

Our waitress Donna recommended the sesame-crusted swordfish,
and we are grateful. The substantial portion was served in an
Asian-inspired sweet and sour scallion and ginger sauce akin
to hoisan sauce, accompanied by a buttery smooth circle of creamy
polenta and snow peas. The fresh fish was further enhanced by
a topping of red peppers and onions.

Because the dinner plates at the Pearl Room could double as platters,
it may be an impossibility to squeeze in dessert, but pastry
chef Danny Martinez has devised a sinful list of temptations.
His vanilla ice cream ball is the size of a cantaloupe – a positively
gluttonous serving which should be shared by two. The ice cream
is rolled into a ball, covered with banana bread, deep fried
and then decorated with pretty swirls of caramel sauce. Yes,
it is as good as it sounds.

The Italian favorites, tiramisu and tartufo, are well-represented.
The cheesecake was more American style than Italian, yet was
quite light and a little tangy.

The "chocolate heaven" is a warm, flourless chocolate
cake with a molten center served with ice cream and fresh strawberries.
But it should be called 10 seconds of heaven, because that’s
all the time you have to eat it before your dining partner eats
it all first. It’s a classic combination: cool, sweet strawberries
perfectly paired with warm, dark chocolate.

Although our story ends here, the Pearl Room menu continues with
mahi mahi crusted with macadamia nuts, bacon wrapped diver scallops,
horseradish crusted Atlantic salmon, herb dusted wild striped
bass and tamarind rubbed prawns. The new season has provided
many more reasons to return to the Pearl Room.

Additional reporting by
Tina Barry.

The Pearl Room (8201 Third Ave. at 82nd
Street) accepts American Express, Master Card and Visa. Pastas
are $11-21, entrees are $20-$32. Lunch is served seven days a
week from noon to 4 pm. Dinner is served Sunday to Wednesday
until 10:30 pm, Thursday and Friday until 11 pm and Saturday
until 11:30 pm. The bar stays open until 1 am every day. For
reservations, call (718) 833-6666.