Restaurant Review: Bistro 90 a hidden culinary gem just outside Myrtle Beach

 
Bistro 90, North Myrtle Beach, SC
Bistro 90, North Myrtle Beach, SC
 

The best-kept secret on the Myrtle Beach dining scene isn't in Myrtle Beach. And it's no longer a secret.

Bistro 90, named for Highway 90 that runs from North Myrtle Beach to Conway, opened in 2008 on this rural stretch of two-lane road to the bewilderment of many in the beach-centric culinary community. Opening a restaurant so far off the beaten path at the start of the economic downturn was akin to setting up a snowcone stand in Saskatchewan.

More than five years later and after thousands of satisfied customers served, owner Roland Sciotto has written a bit of a Cinderella story in the tiny town of Longs. He relocated from New York in 1995 and brought his flair for Italian cuisine to the bright lights of Barefoot Landing to Amici's before taking a gamble on opening his own place in the country.

"It's really not as far away as people think," said Sciotto. "I've had people who live in the Grande Dunes call and say, 'We can't drive all the way out there tonight. We're going to Market Common.' I'm like, 'We're the same distance and you don't hit any red lights.' They could be here in 10 to 15 minutes."

Bistro 90 owes part of its success to the increasing population and improved infrastructure inland of Myrtle Beach. The development along new Highways 22 and 31 (Bistro 90 is a short distance off both), and the coming extension of International Drive gives patrons easy access to Bistro 90, which is less than 10 miles from the beach as the crow flies.

Of course, they have to pass a lot of other restaurants along the way, but a growing number of fine-dining foodies are finding Bistro 90 well worth the drive. Sciotto's Italian background and executive chef Bradley Boandl's creativity in the kitchen combine for a diverse and well-executed menu in a unique setting away from the traffic and neon.

Serving lunch and dinner Mondays through Saturdays, Bistro 90 serves USDA Prime, dry-aged in-house steaks, fresh local seafood and produce straight from neighboring farms to create the kind of menu that drives you mad trying to narrow your choices, especially after you hear the nightly specials. The good news is it's hard to go wrong.

Should you order the Seafood Lasagna, featuring crab, shrimp, scallops and Mahi baked in pasta, cheese and an Old Bay-infused alfredo? Or the Veal Bistro 90, with sautéed mushrooms, asparagus and sun-dried tomato in a pesto basil sauce? Or go surf and turf with a filet and lobster tail? Decisions, decisions.

Lunch is highlighted by several soups, salads and sandwiches, like the New York Italian Combo with an array of spiced meats, provolone and all the toppings or the Meatball Sub smothered in the house marinara. The brick-oven pizzas with a wide selection of toppings are popular picks both day and night.

Several entrees are available for lunch and dinner, such as the traditional lasagna and spaghetti and the more adventurous Eggplant Parm or the Rigatoni Ala Vodka. Popular dinner-only choices include the Jumbo Shrimp and Grits, Long Island Duck, and the signature entree Stuffed Veal Chop stuffed with prosciutto, basil and mozzarella and covered in a port wine mushroom reduction.

The decor says upscale but the atmosphere is relaxed and semi-casual. Rich red and gold colors create a warm environment and the walls are adorned with paintings of the Italian countryside. Of course, you'll see similar rural scenery during the car ride to and from Bistro 90, just not as much as you think.

Bistro 90 is located at 7209 Highway 90 in Longs, less than a mile off the Highway 22 exit. For reservations or more information, call 843-390-5151 or visit the website at www.bistro90.com.

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