Top Long Island restaurants of 2016: Eat here now
Your table is set. Newsday’s A-list for dining out, the Top 100 Restaurants on Long Island during the last 12 months, is here.
The past year has been an exciting, volatile, creative, refreshing, topsy-turvy time for restaurants in Nassau and Suffolk — and for their customers, too. With 10 cuisine categories including Italian, Chinese, seafood and steak houses, see which eateries are near you, and which are worth a drive. Just remember to bring an appetite, come to the table – and eat here now.
The "Italian-inspired" cuisine of chefs Elizabeth Ronzetti and Adam Kopels soars via a fixed-price menu that changes weekly, with four antipasti, handmade pasta and a choice of main dish and dessert. Recommended: Striped bass crudo, lobster-and-potato salad, purslane with local peaches and crushed almond, grilled lamb spiedini with mint, sauteed Atlantic halibut with pistou, roasted Rohan duck breast with cherries and gingered turnips, local peach and cherry cobbler.
Exotic and refined in equal portions, the Yemenite-inflected Israeli cuisine at Ahuva’s Grill will amaze diners whose Middle Eastern culinary experience begins with hummus and ends with falafel. Both these stalwarts are terrific here, but so are the vibrant vegetable salads, the hauntingly spiced Yemenite chicken soup and the baby chicken kebab. Laffa, the puffy, fresh-baked and entirely swoon-worthy flatbread that accompanies all of Ahuva’s cold appetizers, is a fine excuse to order every dip on the menu: creamy hummus, babaganoush, spicy eggplant and matbucha (cooked tomatoes and roasted red peppers). Kosher supervision: Vaad HaKashrus of Five Towns and Far Rockaway.
French and New American cooking come together with flair at Almond. The decor emits an old-school Hamptons vibe: tin ceiling, subway tiles and vintage wallpaper, as well as a handsome bar and excellent service. Start with the raw bar, then trust that you’ll be in good hands with any of the dishes from chef Jason Weiner and chef de cuisine Jeremy Blutstein, from clam chowder and steak tartare to Al Korean-style Berkshire pork chop, hanger steak frites, New York strip steak au poivre or flat iron steak with chimichurri. Even the simpler plates hit the mark — such as roast chicken with crushed red bliss potatoes, the burger or "le grand" macaroni and cheese. Finish with chocolate pot de crème.
In 2015, the gracious, historic structure that anchors Stirling Square (previously Main and North Fork Oyster Co.) got a complete overhaul. American Beech, the breezy, elegant restaurant-inn whose front lawn is dominated by (and whose outdoor bar is built around) a huge beech tree, is as well-suited to an afternoon glass of rosé as a blow-out dinner celebration. Chef Kyle Strong Romeo is equally at home with fish (local black bass with seasonal vegetables, lobster roll on a toasted brioche), fowl (buttermilk fried chicken with spiced honey) and meat (New York strip steak with chive butter and truffled Parmesan fries.
Jimmy Lian, a Nobu veteran, prepares colorful, flavorful sushi here, as well as inventive riffs on the Asian-fusion theme. Lian works like a diamond cutter for results that are pristine and precise. Recommended: omakase — or the chef’s choice of what’s best from the market that day — which may include sushi of diverting combinations such as white tuna with salsa verde and fluke with onion salsa. Also look for ceviche-packed fish tacos; the salmon "invincible sandwich"; maguro tuna "invictus"; shrimp shumai.
Artie's South Shore Fish & Grill
Artie Hoerning, fisherman and proprietor, reels you into his ultracasual market, restaurant, and takeout destination. Unpretentious and fresh, this local landmark serves the day's fare with paper plates, plastic utensils, occasional Styrofoam. Everything is fairly priced. Recommended: tuna tartare, lobster roll, fried clams, fried soft-shell crabs, grilled prawns, deep-fried or broiled fluke, fried whiting, sautéed swordfish with blackened butter, Manhattan-style clam chowder, New England-style clam chowder. BYOB and cash only.
A restaurant with a ton of heart, Autentico is the first American venture for the Italian chef Francesco Pecoraro. Before landing in Oyster Bay, Pecoraro had cooked in Emilia-Romagna and his native Sicily. The setting still feels like the bakery it had been in its former life, complete with homemade Italian pastries near the cash register. In the charming 40-seat dining room, each table has been named after a region of Italy, identified with a framed place card, from Veneto and Calabria to Tuscany, Piedmont and Sicily. The menu changes frequently and might include cheeses and cured meats with mostarda di Cremona; panelle, or chickpea fritters, with scrambled egg and Grana Padano cheese; anellini pasta baked with eggplant, sausage and Gorgonzola; spaghetti with tuna sauce and capers; stracchino cheese mousse with honey and caramelized nuts; brioche with gelato.
Younger sister to Salumi in Massapequa, this sliver of a restaurant has a similar menu of gutsy-refined small plates, well-chosen cheeses and cured meats, and a great, well-priced wine list -- which the friendly and knowledgeable staff is happy to walk you through. “Plancha” refers to the Spanish-style flat-top grill that gives a great sear to the sea scallops served with stinging nettle puree and fingerling potato salad, or the flat iron steak on a bed of hazelnut romesco sauce with charred scallion vinaigrette. For dessert: a teacup of melted chocolate and Nutella, and olive-oil drizzled toast to dunk it in.
BBD's – Beers Burgers Desserts
Beers Burgers Desserts in Rocky Point has it going on starting with a state-of-the-art tap system, 28 beers on tap, one cask brew and more than 90 beers by the bottle. Then there's the pedigreed burger, made from beef ground in-house, such as a smoky, 12-ounce wood-and-charcoal-grilled burger on a toasted brioche bun with the restaurant's logo branded into the top. Optional add-ons from American cheese to bacon jam to avocado make for endless variations. Diners with a smaller appetite can order the griddle-cooked quarter-pound burger -- single or double -- topped with “the works” and delivering beefy satisfaction. White Castle fans will opt for a burger steamed over onions. Don't skip the killer desserts, like a banana split, the cinnabomb (a cinnamon bun served with coffee ice cream), overstuffed s'mores and shakes.
Be-Ju Sashimi & Sake Bar
Long Island's only four-star Japanese restaurant, Be-Ju is a remarkable experience. The dining room is tucked into a corner of Jewel restaurant, but the serene style and meticulous sushi from Shigeki Uchiyama and Tom Schaudel are distinctly its own. Recommended: a great omakase; o-toro, or fatty tuna; chu-toro, or medium-fatty tuna; scallops; bluefin tuna with green olive tapenade; steamed monkfish liver with sea urchin and ponzu sauce; tuna tataki with black truffle vinaigrette; shrimp-and-sea-urchin risotto.
No detail is left unscripted in the décor. Self-described literary geeks and owners Ben Freiser and his wife, Heather, reference classic literature throughout the restaurant, from walls adorned with framed beginnings -- the first pages of famous novels -- to the bookcase/secret door to the restrooms. Start with one of more than 30 cocktails on the menu, eight beers on tap and more than 20 bottles and cans. Move on to a snack such as bonchon wings, a delightfully messy starter with soy, honey, garlic and ginger. Want them hot? Ask for Dante's Inferno. The “clam love” is ideal for sharing, spiked with andouille sausage, served with toast to soak up the butter and white-wine elixir. The burger remains a good bet, a house-blend of ground beef dressed with pickles, your choice of cheeses, bacon and a fried egg on brioche. Go for the fries, served on a board, skin-on, properly salty, with crisp ends and soft interiors.
Before 2015, Nassau’s North Shore had never seen a Chinese restaurant anything like Beijing House. The small, L-shaped dining room looked like scores of others, but the bustling kitchen was putting out seaweed and slow-cooked pork spare rib bone soup, stir-fried quail with cumin seed, soft fried boneless spare rib with salt and pepper, braised pig feet in brown sauce, stir-fried pork intestine. Local Chinese families showed up in droves and, gradually, curious and adventurous non-Chinese have joined in. While the menu offers Chinese-American classics, don’t miss the opportunity to sample such Northern Chinese winners as sauteed lamb with scallion, spicy dan dan noodles, Chinese thin celery with sliced dried tofu or whole fish in hot chili oil.
Benny DiPietro amiably and intently oversees the dining room of his namesake, traditional Italian restaurant as he has for decades. Of course, regulars abound. Recommended: ricotta-and-pasta-stuffed eggplant alla Benny; beef carpaccio; spiedino alla Romana; mushroom risotto; gnocchi with veal ragu; bucatini con le sarde, or with sardines, wild fennel raisins and pine nuts; pan-seared sea scallops with asparagus risotto; mustard-crusted rack of lamb; house-made cheesecake.
Bigelow's, which has been in business since 1939, is all about the basics, which is to say the primary pieces of equipment on the premises are a grill and a fryolator. You'll eat at a curved counter with stools at a location far removed from the shoreline. But scenery doesn't count. Fried seafood is the unquestioned star and the reason. Ipswich clams, with soft shells and bellies attached, lead the selections. Recommended: fried Ipswich clams, fried whiting, fried smelts, fried oysters, fried calamari, fried scallops. Cash only.
Biscuits & Barbeque
A 1940s vintage railroad-car diner is tucked away in an industrial stretch of Mineola. Inside, with Formica counters and stools bolted to the floor, you'll find the setting for a down-home meal of Southern-inspired cuisine. Slow-smoked chicken wings have great depth of flavor. Country biscuits with andouille stick to the ribs. Jambalaya served over rice delivers a marriage of flavors and packs heat. Smoked turkey turns humble collards into something nearly decadent.
Handsomely appointed in a vaguely Frank Lloyd Wright way, Blackstone is one of three Anthony Scotto restaurants to make this list. The others are Insignia and Rare 650. But Blackstone is extra sharp. Recommended: the seafood plateau, bluefin toro tartare roll, sushi and sashimi, steamed or broiled lobster, Kurobuta pork chop with apple-celery root puree, Nueske’s slab bacon, bone-in rib steak, sirloin, filet mignon, porterhouse for two, three or four, all potatoes, creamed spinach.
While the original Brewology is situated in a strip-mall parking lot in Speonk, this sibling resides in a formerhotel. The tap system that delivers more than 20 craft brews is a focal point, though wine and cocktail cravings are not ignored. The food menu features re-imagined pub standards such as deviled duck eggs with pancetta, dill pickles and smoked paprika; stuffed corn fritters; and entree classics like steak and shrimp with fingerlings. Burgers seed the menu, from angus beef, turkey veggie and a bison patty stuffed with Cheddar and blue cheeses.
Bryant & Cooper
Bryant & Cooper has been sizzling since 1986. It looks more genteel these days. But that’s just part of the appeal. A veteran waitstaff enhances the experience. Recommended: Caesar salad, Gorgonzola salad, shellfish cocktails, stone crabs in season, linguine with white clam sauce, broiled lobster, prime rib, sirloin steak, filet mignon, porterhouse steak for two, three or four; creamed spinach, sauteed corn, banana cream pie, cheesecake.
When chef Marco Pellegrini opened Caci in Southold in September 2014, the North Fork got the fine Italian restaurant it deserved. The simple, rustic décor — crisp white walls, warm wooden floors, exposed beams and bare table tops — provide a neutral backdrop to the chef’s artistry. A native of Umbria (and formerly the chef at one of Italy’s most luxurious resorts), Pellegrini combines the purity of Umbrian cooking with a New American innovation that never veers off into culinary self-indulgence. He makes his own pasta, bread and gelato, grills his meats over a wood fire. The seasonal menu blends local produce with gutsy yet refined Italian cooking. Try the seafood guazzetto, a light, simmered, soupy production with monkfish, calamari, clams and mussels, and don’t miss the supernal veal chop.
Long Island's tapas headquarters, reliably excellent for plates small and larger. Lively, crowded, immediately appealing, it's a grazer's oasis for Argentine cuisine and riffs on the cuisine of Spain. Recommended: Galician-style octopus tinted with paprika; seafood ceviche; sauteed clams with chorizo; marinated white anchovies; serrano ham with Manchego cheese and olives; tripe and pork with white beans; calf's liver with sauteed onions and bacon; baked cream of corn and cheese; sesame-crusted tuna carpaccio; Spanish omelet with chorizo; and mixed grill for two.
Billy Sansone's refreshing, stylish take on Italian cuisine is seasoned with New American accents. His popular restaurant just vrooms along. Recommended: marinated and grilled octopus with escarole, ceci, crushed tomatoes; veal meatball sliders; crab-and-shrimp cake with sweet corn salsa; halibut any style; ricotta-potato gnocchi with arugula pesto; paccheri pasta with pork ragu and cannellini beans; mezze-rigatoni with veal sausage Bolognese; baked apple turnover.
Mimmo and Benedetto Gambino’s full-flavored restaurant has starred for more than 30 years. The décor may change and some dishes come and go. But it’s as consistent as it gets. Recommended: stuffed zucchini blossoms; grilled calamari; grilled octopus salad; orange-and-fennel salad; lasagna Bolognese, pasta con le sarde; lobster risotto; lobster fra diavolo; whole branzino baked in a salt crust; veal chop Milanese; herb-rubbed grilled rib-eye with lemon zest; chicken scarpariello; all desserts.
Chef Wang New Sichuan Cuisine
The restaurateur behind several Manhattan spots — Legend 88, Legend 72 and Legend Upper West — presides over this sprawling bi-level eatery whose decor is Swiss chalet crossed with Chinese temple. You can get sushi here, as well as most Chinese-American standards, but Wang is at his best with classic Sichuan dishes such as braised pork belly with leeks (surprisingly lean), cumin lamb (or beef or ribs), cold rabbit with spice ("cold" refers to the numbing presence of Sichuan peppercorns; the chunks of bone-in rabbit with fresh bamboo shoots is served over flame), and a terrific noodle soup with shredded pork and pickled vegetable, a rib-sticking brew with an unexpected sour kick. There are also five types of you-cook-at-the-table hot pots.
Copperhill is in the former site of La Marmite, the continental standard for 40 years. Gregory Kearns has transformed it, in design and food, into a New American winner. Recommended: Pork buns, devils on horseback, seared foie gras with rhubarb and pickled ramps, roasted Joyce Farm chicken, grilled hanger steak with kimchi fries and fried egg, house-made bratwurst, salt-and-pepper rubbed barbecue brisket, the house burger, grass-fed steak with chimichurri.
Dosa World offers dosas, ravi dosas and vegetarian fare from North and South India. A first-order snack of bhel puri is a guilty pleasure, a layering of puffed rice and crispy sev, tamarind and chutney. The Pondicherry masala dosa, a giant rice crepe, lends a spice blend with a moderate kick, while the rava dosa with gunpowder chilies — dry spiced — delivers steady heat. Rava dosas are made from unfermented batter that creates an especially crispy crepe. Like a regular dosa, it’s awfully large, but heavier and square, folded like sheets. Still hungry? Get the South Indian thali with papadum; aviyal, a vegetable dish with coconut and curry leaves; a dish of sauteed vegetables called poriyal; tomato-based rasam soup; and poori, fried bread.
One of the North Fork's most comfortable and dependable venues, First and South emphasizes local produce and wines. Dine inside or out, and try the accurately described “really good burger” or South Street chowder (with haddock, clams, apple-wood bacon and potatoes), and don't pass up the fine, hand-cut fries with house-made ketchup (Heinz available on request) or the salad made with biodynamic greens from KK's The Farm in Southold. Executive chef Scott Leventhal's seasonal supper items might include local pan-seared flounder with kale, mushrooms and barley risotto or pulled-pork pappardelle.
Flour Shoppe Cafe & Bakery
Breakfast as well as breakfast-for-dinner is a draw, courtesy of John Maher, former partner/chef at EAT Gastropub in Oceanside. Tartines hit all the savory notes, like the scrambled Florentine, a generous heap of spinach and eggs laced with the sweetness of caramelized onions and a squiggle of Mornay sauce. Served with a side of fruit, it's an elevated version of diner food -- even as it's served on the school lunch trays turned into plates that are so au courant. Say “yes” to the specials, from a crab chowder or cauliflower Parmesan soup and a grilled cheese, to a chicken potpie that billows from the cast iron like a gossamer hat. And save room for sweets like the Kit Kat croissant served on the weekend.
Fortune Wheel Seafood Restaurant
When Fortune Wheel opened in 1993, Long Island had never seen a Chinatown-style restaurant with a fish tank full of live seafood, big round tables set up for family banquets and, at those tables, plenty of Chinese patrons. Twenty-four years later, Fortune Wheel is still delivering strong Cantonese fare: clams in black bean sauce, lobster over sticky rice, whole crispy fish, roast duck and pork, all manner of stir-fried noodles. Dim sum is served daily (carts on the weekend) and beyond the seafood-filled dumplings, don’t pass up sticky rice in lotus leaves and pan-fried turnip cake.
Since 1980, Franina has matured gracefully while trendlets have perished around it. Originally, this was a pretty modest spot started by Franco and Nina Zitoli. But over the decades, it expanded the repertoire and refined the style. The gifts of maturity include a finely tuned kitchen (now overseen by the Zitolis’ son, Victor), impeccable service and one of Nassau County’s best Italian wine lists. Pay close attention to the specials which, recently, included the Ligurian pasta trofie with fresh porcini mushrooms. Recommended from the menu: cotechino sausage with lentils; tripe with potatoes and tomatoes; seafood salad with lobster, shrimp, and calamari; pappardelle Bolognese; fusilli with meatballs and tomato sauce; lobster-and-shrimp fra diavolo with fettuccine; striped bass oreganata; tiramisu; zabaglione with berries for two.
Unpretentious, friendly and fairly priced, the two branches of Frank’s Steaks are restaurants for the whole family. Recommended: first, the knockout Romanian skirt steak; double-Gorgonzola bread, shrimp and crab meat cocktails, Cajun-spiced calamari, porterhouse steak for two, peppercorn rib-eye steak, New York strip steak with melted Stilton cheese, pan-seared shrimp, bison burger, meat loaf. (Other location at 54 Lincoln Ave., Rockville Centre)
Chef Jintana Lauchalermsuk cooks the food of her homeland with respect, passion and lightness, and travels back to Thailand at least once a year to source new menu items. She offers five levels of spicing, and honors requests. Standouts include a superb pad thai, as well as curry puffs, duck salad, drunken noodles and eggplant with basil. Don’t miss the basil noodles with ground pork and shrimp, a Thai take on Italian pasta Bolognese made with fat Thai noodles similar to the Japanese udon.
Impeccable fish from the Tsukiji Market in Tokyo anchors the adventurous meals at Ginza, an opulent, imposing, ambitious establishment that always comes through. Elegant presentation, attentive service and eye-catching design enhance the experience. Recommended: fatty and medium-fatty tuna; Japanese snapper, or madai; bigeye snapper; baby yellowtail; horse mackerel; striped jack; live orange clam; toro tuna tartare; fluke usuzukuri; spirited sushi rolls that don’t smother the stellar fish; traditional nigrizushi; and the chef’s selection from Tsukiji.
Green Tea Restaurant
Green Tea helps the Chinese student community at Stony Brook “remember the taste of China,” stated on the menu and on the website. Pick and choose among regional dishes, from the fisherman-style fish fillet -- fried flounder tossed with a mix of chili peppers, garlic, cilantro, black beans and dried pork -- to the walnut shrimp with mayonnaise, a Cantonese classic. Cumin tofu is an unusual dish worthy of attention: velvety soy cubes dressed in heady spices. Consider the vegetable or seafood mix for a diverse, less spicy dish.
H2O Seafood & Sushi
As the name suggests, sushi has become a staple at H2O. But the dining room, which has décor suggesting both coastal Long Island and New England, is a very dependable spot for cooked seafood, too. Recommended: sushi rolls, New England-style clam chowder, steamed lobster, Maine-style lobster roll, fried oysters, shrimp cocktail, raw bar plateau, flounder amandine, hazelnut-Parmesan crusted swordfish, “everything” crusted tuna, seasonal specialties such as Peconic Bay scallops, stone crab claws, striped bass, soft-shell crabs.
Sleek, handsome and behind a bamboo facade, Hana marks a dramatic departure from the many restaurants that have opened and closed in this location, and serves up splashily fresh seafood from the Tsukiji Market and the New Fulton Fish Market. Recommended: the multicourse omakase; chirashi, or scattered sushi, on rice; "blue skin" horse mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and Japanese mackerel; amberjack; striped bass; miso-braised black cod; pork buns; Wagyu A5 rib-eye and striploin; roasted lobster with garlic butter and shellfish risotto.
Both beer and wine make a statement here, with an extensive selection of vino, a handful of beers on tap and nearly a dozen by the bottle. The spotlight is on inventive presentation of familiar dishes like bay scallops tempura and endive salad paired with Gorgonzola cheese and drizzled with a Port wine vinaigrette. Tuna tataki is as recommended as a generous meatball hero, while strozzapretti Bolognese satisfies an inner pasta lover. Take note that it gets crowded, so don't be surprised if it's elbow to elbow at the bar.
With its timbered ceilings and rich leather accents, Hendrick's Tavern looks like a country inn that's been there forever; in fact it dates only from 2012, when George and Gillis Poll transformed the historic but rundown George Washington Manor into a favored watering hole among Roslyn's smart set (with a parking lot to prove it). The sprawling venue -- with multiple dining rooms and bars -- is one of Long Island's loveliest. The food shoots for classic, and scores. Among Mitch SuDock's winners: lobster-truffle mac & cheese, Kobe beef hot dog wrapped in puff pastry, crispy butterflied Cornish hen, steaks, chops, and, yes, spaghetti and meatballs.
This plain-looking vegetarian spot features the bright flavors of Southern India. Rice crepes or dosas are filled with an infinite number of vegetable varieties that are slightly sweeter than one would expect. Be sure to try the mixed-vegetable uthappam, a thick rice-lentil pancake, and the bhel puri, a street snack of puffed rice with onion, tomato, chili and spices.
Chef Marc Anthony Bynum, twice a winner on Food Network’s "Chopped," has earned stars all over the Island, but seriously struts his stuff at this, his hometown restaurant. Hush Bistro is one of the coolest venues in Farmingdale, a locavore speak-easy dominated by a long bar behind which mixologists and cooks ply their trade. The menu changes regularly, but you’ll be lucky to find scallop crudo, hibiscus-cured duck breast with beet mole and potato agnolotti with braised oxtail ragu. The star of the lunch menu is the chicken kimchee burger, with Korean barbecue sauce and a fried egg — but also look for the newly added ramen.
Insignia makes its mark with an opulent, eye-grabbing style suitable for Las Vegas Boulevard, minus gambling. Everything is eminently oversized, from design to food to tab. Recommended: bone-in rib steak; porterhouse steak; filet mignon; lamb chops; pan-roasted halibut; grilled whole branzino; the raw bar; sushi and sashimi; “signature” sushi rolls; carpaccio of tuna, hamachi and salmon; stone crab claws in season; shellfish cocktails; crabcake; Wagyu mini-burger flight; maple-glazed slab bacon; mashed potatoes; mixed berry salad. Same ownership as Blackstone Steakhouse in Melville.
Jackson's features dim lighting and a long bar with a solid wine list, a handful of cocktails and more than a dozen beer taps and bottled brews. But the main activity here is dining. Frickles, wings and sloppy-joe nachos lie among starters at this restaurant serving upscale nostalgia. Turn the pages-long menu to find chicken, burgers and steaks in any way imaginable. You're bound to find that favorite dish you grew up on.
Kyoko and Kikumatsu Mitsumori are the mom and pop who own this old-school Japanese restaurant. Kikumatsu buys much of his own hopping-fresh local fish in Freeport, then expertly slices it with knife skills honed over 40 years. He’s not interested in creating complicated rolls, so your best bets here are the simplest: nigirizushi, sashimi, chirashi. Kyoko is responsible for the cooked menu, including huge homemade gyoza, ramen and donburi (rice bowls).
Whole, grilled fish and Greek specialties are the essentials at this excellent, handsomely appointed seafood spot, which is marked by standout service. Recommended: whole royal dorado, red snapper, pompano, black sea bass, and fagri, or pink snapper; grilled tiger shrimp; grilled langoustines; grilled octopus; zucchini and eggplant chips with tzatziki; all Greek spreads; moussaka; saganaki; Greek salad; charcoal-grilled sirloin steak; all desserts.
This over-the-top eye-catcher rises like a temple to Greek fare, especially seafood. Recommended: roasted beets and skordalia, kefalograviera, stuffed and grilled calamari; whole fagri, red snapper, and black sea bass for two; royal dorado; Dover sole; halibut; grilled langoustines; head-on shrimp; raw oysters; lamb chops; sirloin and rib-eye steak; Sunday brunch.
LOL Grill and Kitchen
The name here is a reference to the acronym “laugh out loud,” the online game League of Legends and “a Chinese reference to eating food on skewers,” says Yang Liu, the 26-year-old owner. There are many rewards on a menu of boldly seasoned vegetables, cumin-laced meats, hot pots and skewered foods cooked on the grill -- the best items on the menu. Start with barbecued chives, several in a row, like streamers on the handlebars of a child's bike, bright green, dusted with sesame and cumin. Taiwanese sausage will please a more conservative diner. A little snap of the skin delivers pork seasoned with star anise and Chinese rice wine. The Northern Chinese hot pot is a regional favorite, stocked with braised pork belly, slippery tofu skins, blistered green beans and slivers of eggplant.
Anchoring the West End’s burgeoning dining scene, Lost & Found brings some Brooklyn-style rustic-chic to Long Beach. The tight quarters feature a communal table, a few stools at the bar and a handful of small tables, all with a view of the open kitchen. It’s casual in the extreme, but chef-owner Alexis Trolf’s cooking is highly refined and imaginative. The dozen-odd small plates change frequently, but look for a perfectly rendered Niçoise salad, and seared scallops with sauce vierge, saba and fennel pollen. The two "large-format" dishes, serving two, are dry-aged rib-eye and a Spanish-spiced roast chicken. Cash only.
Luigi Quarta runs a very personal restaurant, reflecting his emphasis on the market and elevated home cooking. Just go with what he thinks is best today. Not an establishment for younger children. Recommended: blistered hot long peppers; crabcake; octopus with cannellini beans; grilled swordfish with rosemary; linguine with cuttlefish; shrimp-stuffed paccheri; roasted quail with risotto; venison with red wine-and-blueberry sauce; cheesecake; biscotti with vin santo.
This sharp, smart New American bistro has an informal style, upbeat mood and a seasonal menu from chef Chuck Treadwell. Come for the elegant market greens and grilled octopus salad, braised-duck pappardelle with wild mushrooms and spring peas, the pan-roasted chicken with spaetzle (which seems to grace half the tables) and the MB burger, a rib-eye-brisket-short-rib winner with garlic aioli. The bar is a great place for solo dining — or imbibing a craft cocktail such as the "Just in Thyme," with gin, thyme simple syrup, fresh-squeezed lemon and ginger ale.
Michael Maroni's quirky, idiosyncratic, high-wire restaurant made national news when the house meatballs beat Bobby Flay's in a televised throwdown. They're very good, but only part of the chef's typical 20-25 course tasting, all presented in a compact dining room full of rock memorabilia. The opening chords of “Layla” may, appropriately, announce your meal. Recommended: lobster bisque; crème fraiche-and-caviar-capped potato chip; grilled cheese with truffle emulsion; shellfish sampler; sushi; Kobe sliders; pastrami egg roll; all pastas; sea bass oreganata; veal Milanese; all desserts.
The smell is seductive at this trim counter-serve spot that’s big on takeout. But those who value flavor over frills owe it to themselves to grab a table. At the first bite of the delicate fried turnovers called samosas, you know you’re in the hands of pros. Another appetizer, chicken tikka seekh, stars marinated tandoor-roasted chicken thighs — smoky, crimson, glistening. Seekh kebab, spiced chicken sausages, are also a winning order.
Chef Guy Reuge’s showcase at the Three Village Inn combines casual and formal with tavern and restaurant with a farm-to-table emphasis and tasting menus, plus a la carte dishes. Recommended: Flammkuchen, an Alsatian thin-crust pizza with bacon and onion; Kobe beef sliders; herb-crusted swordfish with sun-dried tomato polenta cake; osso buco with risotto Milanese; charcuterie; potted salmon rillettes; mussels mariniere; pan-roasted steak Bordelaise; all desserts.
Moonstone Modern Asian Cuisine and Bar
This polished restaurant is attentive to details, from just-right lighting, comfortable high-backed chairs and linen-dressed tables. On a vast menu, there's a dish for every palate. Nibble on hoisin-glazed bacon sliders or a steamed dim sum sampler to start. Splurge on lobster dressed in black bean sauce or settle in with something savory and sweet, like pork and chestnuts with wok-sauteed spinach and garlic. Sushi, too.
Morning Rose Cafe
Jump-start your morning with hot chilaquiles, an assemblage of tortillas, salsa verde, queso fresco, avocado, scrambled eggs and a choice of veggies, chicken or pork. Those who prefer a sweet breakfast can go for brioche French toast or fried banana and Nutella crepes. Savory dishes dominate the afternoon, such as the Cuban Reuben mash-up: slow-roasted pork shoulder, fried pickles, melted Swiss, Dijon mustard and garlic sauce on grill-pressed rye. Or go all-American with the Southern-fried chicken breast with melted Cheddar, bacon, avocado, tomato, greens and honey mustard in a wrap.
Chefs Jonathan Contes and Tate Morris offer a five-course, fixed-price dinner that changes daily in their cozy dining room. Recommended; Bloody Mary gazpacho, cedar-planked grilled ocean trout with feta-pecan baklava, smoked beef filet with Fontina-potato tart, caramelized sea scallops with bourbon-braised pumpkin, Asiago-Yukon Gold potato gnocchi, wild mushroom carbonara, two-day roast pork shoulder, brownie with pine nut brittle and espresso gelato.
The pleasure of Nagashima is its restraint and chef Makoto Kobayashi’s emphasis is on very fresh fish, flawlessly sliced. Snag a seat at the sushi bar and witness his artistry up close. Recommended: sushi and sashimi combination platters; chirashi sushi; a la carte yellowtail toro, maguro tuna, fluke, jumbo sweet shrimp, squid, octopus, freshwater eel; yellowtail and scallion roll; salmon tataki with miso-mustard vinaigrette; grilled yellowtail collar; buckwheat noodle soup with seafood and chicken; spicy pork soup.
New Chilli and Curry
Mostly featuring Indian cooking, this casual restaurant serves vegetarian plates, breads, tandoori (clay oven-cooked) entrees and meals prepared with goat, lamb and chicken. Asian-inspired dishes such as Thai chicken curry and Mandarin fish in oyster sauce also are available. Don't overlook the Hakka dishes labeled as such, a mashup cuisine with notes of Indian dishes and Chinese favorites, one of the few places to try them on Long Island.
On a Saturday night in high summer, Hollywood stars and Wall Street titans converge on Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton. In truth, the restaurant could get by on star power alone, but it has nonetheless established itself as one of the best on Long Island. Chef-partner Joe Realmuto makes prodigious use of the local produce, wine and seafood. He also maintains a good-size organic garden (and, in season, hosts a weekly farmers market in the parking lot). Realmuto’s ever-changing menu is equal parts rustic Italian and New American. Pastas and risottos are always recommended, as is anything issuing from the wood-burning oven, especially the wood-roasted whole fish. Vegetables are a big deal here, and vegetarians will not feel deprived in the least.
Hermanto and Lina Jong’s rousing fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine pack Nikkei of Peru in both locations almost every night. The Jongs both have worked in the Nobu empire and six of Nikkei’s 42 seats are at the sushi bar; wait for one. Recommended: the "inspiration" menu, with silky fish and perfectly paired toppings, from chimichurri to threads of crisp onion; sashimi tacos with tomatillo salsa; ceviche of shellfish and finfish; traditional sushi and sashimi; seared beef wontons; beef tiradito-style; steamed monkfish liver with sweet miso sauce and caviar; roasted chicken; sliders. (Other location at 94 South St., Oyster Bay)
Noah Schwartz’s downtown winner is both traditional and contemporary, in look and on table, with plates large and small. Recommended: crab-stuffed deviled eggs, hamachi crudo, warm lobster roll, Tasmanian red crab tacos, Long Island clam chowder, pan-roasted Atlantic halibut, crisp oyster po’boy, fish and chips, spiced and skewered octopus, roasted local beets, filet mignon sliders, pulled duck and duck confit from Crescent Duck Farm, Long Island seafood jambalaya.
Off the Block Kitchen & Meats
This is a butcher shop and restaurant with a tiny open kitchen where meat stars. Kick off a meal with the littleneck clam starter, with thin-shaved nubs of pastrami atop shellfish peppered with chives. The "pastruben" offers a mountain of corned beef and pastrami, along with all the condiments you’d find on either sandwich, which includes ’kraut, Swiss cheese, arugula and a take on horseradish that’s doctored with honey and Dijon. And the burgers, ground in-house, are definitely lookers. For a grand gesture, buy a porterhouse at the counter and have it cooked to order at the restaurant. More than 20 bottled craft brews and a handful of wines by the glass are available.
Casual and cacophonous, One Block East features an impressive array of craft brews -- many of them local -- on tap and in bottles, with the selection listed on a giant chalkboard. Among food recommendations: pulled pork empanadas, smoked brisket tacos, fish and chips, or a seasonal sandwich stuffed with lobster or a soft shell crab. Each day offers five brews on tap and 25 by the bottle, as well as nearly a dozen wines by the glass. Be sure to keep an eye on the Facebook page for daily deals, from half-price wine to weekend cocktail specials.
Chinese restaurateur par excellence Tommy Tan presides at this sleek sibling of his original restaurant, The Orient in Bethpage. Its subtitle, "Hong Kong style seafood," points you to one of the kitchen’s specialties: here’s the place to get salt and pepper shrimp, squid with ginger and scallions or, if they’re available, razor clams or soft shell crabs. Other winners include crispy garlic chicken, the improbably delicious dish of crispy mayonnaised shrimp with sugared walnuts (which Tan popularized on Long Island) and snow pea leaves. Or, jettison the menu and just ask Tan what he recommends.
Offerings here go beyond the name at this Jewish-style deli (that's not certified kosher). With 24 seats, the place is clean and sparse, with tchotchkes on shelves and walls that add grandma-style warmth. As Abe Ahmed tends to meats, including roast turkey, stuffed derma or kishke, chopped liver and thin-sliced beef tongue, his wife, Annie Ahmed, bakes knishes every morning -- spinach, onion sweet potato and meat varieties -- along with potato pancakes and stuffed cabbage. About that pastrami: thin-shaved and pink, with the animated flavor of the spice rub and a hint of smoke. It's why you're here.
The Long Island offspring of the Williamsburg classic, this Peter Luger also serves history and peerless beef. The look is more Tudor than Teutonic. Bring cash, check, debit card, or your Peter Luger card. No credit cards. Recommended: the porterhouse for two, three, or four; prime roast rib of beef; hamburger at lunch; broiled lobster; shrimp and crabmeat cocktails; sliced tomatoes and onions; extra-thick bacon; German fried potatoes; cheesecake; hot fudge sundae.
Prime: An American Kitchen & Bar
One of the North Shore’s best-looking restaurants, Prime matches that with its harborside location and inviting food. Dine alfresco. Arrive by boat. Enjoy dinner, brunch, the works. Recommended: caramelized figs, gnocchi with Parmesan-white truffle sauce, lobster-and-corn chowder, crabcake with Sriracha aioli, sushi rolls, shellfish cocktails, raw oysters, Tellers signature rib-eye steak, porterhouse steak for two, sundaes, sorbets.
Red Tiger Dumpling House
Soup dumplings — the Shanghai specialty of delicate little parcels filled with savory pork in a steaming broth — are increasingly common on Long Island, but very few restaurants make them on the premises (frozen ones are readily available). That’s reason enough to travel to Red Tiger Dumpling House. Fill out your meal with dainty shrimp dumplings and Kung Fu buns, fat with pork and vegetables. Beyond dumplings are larger dishes from Shanghai, Beijing and Northern China, like the perfectly crisp scallion pancakes, Singapore mei fun or a bold beef noodle soup brightened by bok choy.
The service here is unfailingly friendly, the surroundings casual-chic, and the location right in the heart of this cute town. For breakfast, choose among omelets, a "new school" egg sandwich (with house-made maple turkey sausage, tomato, Swiss and spinach), French toast and pancakes, while lunch offers a roast-pork sandwich with broccoli rabe and provolone on a semolina roll and a long list of burgers and shakes in flavors such as maple bacon.
Rolling Spring Roll
A handsome dining room in a strip mall defines the second location of this restaurant; it has more seats and interesting beer and wine selections from the bar. Be sure to get the bánh xèo, pronounced boon say-OH, a stuffed crepe that's lacy and crisp, so named for the sizzling of rice batter as it hits the pan. The pho remains a star, the fragrant rice noodle soup introduced to Long Island at the original Farmingdale location. The bánh mi is also a winner, a lively sandwich layered with paté, pork, pickled veggies and herbs stuffed into a crusty baguette.
Except for a brief period when it was Burt Bacharach's, this site has held the Rothmann name since 1907. And it's at its best now, for steak and for seafood. Recommended: onion soup; lobster-and-shrimp bisque; kung pao calamari; grilled octopus; crabcake with chipotle aioli; yellowtail-jalapeno, with Sriracha-cilantro oil and yuzu-soy; broiled or steamed lobster; seared foie gras; Kobe burger; New York strip steak; bone-in rib-eye steak; Wagyu tomahawk steak; Japanese Kobe steak; roasted fingerling potatoes; mashed potatoes; creamed spinach; cheesecake; crème brûlée.
Every town on Long Island could use a restaurant such as Salt & Barrel, for its fine oyster bar and attractive, streamlined restaurant. Recommended: west and east coast oysters, shellfish towers, warm butter-poached lobster roll, tarragon biscuits with honey and truffled ricotta, deviled eggs, baked clams, casino clam toast, dashi-steamed clams, lemon-panko fried oysters, shrimp and grits, mussels in creamy lobster broth, bigeye tuna tartare, layer cake, lemon curd parfait.
Salumi and its sister restaurant Bar Plancha (931 Franklin Ave., Garden City) have similar menus of gutsy-refined small plates, well-chosen cheeses and cured meats, and a solid, well-priced wine list — which the friendly, knowledgeable staff is happy to walk you through. "Plancha" refers to the Spanish-style flat-top grill that gives a great sear to the sea scallops served with stinging nettle purée and fingerling potato salad, or the flat iron steak on a bed of hazelnut romesco sauce with charred scallion vinaigrette. For dessert, it’s hard to do better than a teacup of melted chocolate and Nutella, with olive-oil drizzled toast for dunking.
Sapsuckers Hops & Grub
Grab a table for a more intimate dinner or a seat at the bar for good people-watching. Named for an American bird, you'll find straightforward pub grub made with well-sourced ingredients. Sure, there are familiar appetizers like mac-n-cheese and nachos, but the openers share the menu with potato pierogies, peel-and-eat shrimp and pulled pork on potato rolls. Burgers, 'dawgs and chicken breast are dressed up with ingredients or pretzel rolls or brioche. From the barrel-aged to the hops-forward, beers here aren't for the meek. With dozens on the menu, you'll find one to suit you.
Long Island’s easternmost Italian restaurant, Scarpetta Beach made a big splash of 2015, turning oceanfront Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa into a major dining destination. Seafood, unsurprisingly, takes center stage, with raw crudos made with yellowtail, ginger oil and pickled onion, or diver scallops with black truffle, peas and Aleppo pepper. Pastas include black farfalle with seafood ragout, gnochetti with lobster and guanciale. Octopus is braised with artichoke and celery, calamari and shrimp are deep fried, halibut is done with artichokes, blue foot mushrooms and asparagus. For landlubbers: duck foie gras ravioli in a Marsala reduction, filet mignon with trumpet mushrooms, cipollini onion and truffled spinach.
Siam Lotus Thai Restaurant
Escape to Thailand at this long-standing Long Island favorite, where homestyle dishes deliver a harmonious marriage of flavors and Thai comfort-food dishes. A layering of flavors characterizes the shrimp hot and sour soup. Duck salad is rife with nuances, as is the sauté of squid, shrimp and scallops with chili sauce, vegetables and basil.
Chef Atsushi Nakagawa has brought the ramen rituals of his homeland into a bare-bones space with a killer water view. The noodles of the milky-white signature ramen are layered with thin-sliced pork belly, soft-boiled egg, fresh ginger and scallions, while the "Slurp Smooth" pairs shoyu and chicken-based broth with Japanese fried chicken. Nakagawa sources his noodles from New York City’s Ipuddo, and of his four broths, there’s a miso-based option for vegans.
Southern Spice takes its cue from the Chettinad region located near the tip of India where the pleasing cuisine is celebrated for its complexity. Chef Sridhar Munirathinam is an excellent practitioner, doling out classic fare that includes a fiery Chettinadu shrimp curry as well as a milder chicken version that includes chunks of dark meat in gravy with notes of cinnamon, cloves, cumin, fennel and mustard seed. Pair them with a side of cooling guthi vankaya eggplant and an order of garlic naan to ensure no schmear of curry gets left behind.
Southold Fish Market
Charlie Manwaring’s market and informal restaurant is visited by fishermen, restaurateurs, diners, anybody looking for very fresh seafood. Recommended: Peconic Bay scallops, charbroiled oysters with garlic-butter sauce, fish tacos with cod, the fish Reuben with cod, lobster roll, scallop-bacon-ranch quesadilla, seafood salad, clam strips, grilled swordfish, fried Ipswich clams, New England and Manhattan clam chowders, corn fritters.
Sripraphai Thai Restaurant
A go-to for an authentic Thai restaurant, Sripraphai offers interesting, spicy dishes far from the realm of pad Thai and Massaman curry. Check out the catfish papaya salad that's savory, refreshing and spicy with a whisper of fish sauce. Variations on larb offer an enticing blend of ground pork, mint, chili and lime juice. And the sweet sausage salad from the Issan region, served with cucumber, onions, chili and lime, will be your takeaway favorite.
Stone Creek Inn
Christian Mir and Elaine Digiacomo oversee the elegant restaurant in a 1910 building that once housed the Ambassador Inn. The French-Mediterranean fare is just as stylish. Recommended: Hudson Valley foie gras terrine with fig and cranberry mostarda, charcuterie tasting, oven-roasted Crystal Valley Farm chicken, herb-and-mustard crusted rack of lamb, butter-poached lobster with coconut-ginger-lime broth, localized Provençal bouillabaisse with monkfish, all desserts.
Elegant, refined, full of flowers, Stresa excels under Giorgio Meriggi's direction and Ella Rocca's kitchen. It's the paradigm of traditional style. Recommended: four-bean soup under a pastry crust; swordfish carpaccio; eggplant lasagnette; sautéed soft-shell crabs; artichoke-and-Parmesan risotto; roast duck with rose wine sauce; bucatini alla Norma; sirloin steak alla King, with peppers, onions, mushrooms; chocolate soufflé; Grand Marnier soufflé; biscotti with vin santo.
Swingbellys Beachside BBQ
Fried pickles or tomatoes, rib tips and burnt ends dot the menu for starters at this very good 'cue restaurant serving a fusion of barbecue styles. After a snack, venture into the sandwich options, like the brisket grilled cheese or the pulled pork sandwich. Or go for the smoke pit tacos, whether it's shrimp, fish, pork or chicken -- a value at $4 a pop. Served with a side and cornbread, platters are good for sharing, from baby back or St. Louis ribs to mac 'n' cheese burnt ends. The fried chicken rocks, too -- only available on Tuesday.
Taka Yamaguchi offers a lesson in sushi at the bar, where the coveted seats in his namesake restaurant are located. There’s no fussiness, no over-orchestration, no out-of-sync flavors in this modest, strip-mall setting. You immediately know why you’re here. Recommended: the chef’s choice production, seasonal and whimsical, with likely selections including Spanish mackerel capped with scallion and ginger, marinated mackerel, yellowtail sushi with shiso leaf, fatty tuna, sweet shrimp, salmon skin roll, spicy scallop, sea urchin.
Yes, you'll be offered Sichuan fare at the Halal Chinese spot, but you'll also find dishes from Hong Kong and Northern China. Try the stewed beef with chilies, the dan dan noodles and the shredded potatoes, served hot and sour. The leg of lamb is an ambitious order, layered with caramelized onions, chilies, peanuts and Sichuan peppercorns. Among the most spicy dishes on the menu, Chongqing chicken can be ordered on or off the bone, the former the more authentic option. It's also a good place to visit with a group for one of three family-style options starting at around $55 and up to $175 for a feast. Service is fast and efficient and there's plenty of room for groups, courtesy of a few private rooms that have recently been remodeled.
Tellers: An American Chophouse
In a high-ceiling converted bank building, Tellers makes a vivid impression, from food to wine, which is cellared in the former vault. Recommended: tuna tartare, duck fat fries, the raw bar, black-pepper bacon, 40-oz. signature rib-eye steak, porterhouse steak for two, filet mignon, Colorado lamb chops, steamed lobster, lobster thermidor, creamed spinach, house-made Tater Tots, "loaded" baked potato, scalloped Parmesan potatoes, onion rings, fudge layer cake.
The Butcher's Bar & Grill
New to the Top 100, the BBG comfortably fills a niche for seafood as well as steaks, friendly service and modern style. Recommended: colossal shrimp and colossal crab meat cocktails; crabcake rémoulade; grilled octopus with red onion, olive oil and lemon; Greek salad; the house-blend cheeseburger; dry-aged rib-eye steak for two; porterhouse steak for two; filet mignon; Kurobuta pork chop with roasted peppers, potatoes and onions; steamed lobster; grilled swordfish; grilled salmon; baked potato; creamed spinach; the high-rise chocolate cake “tower.”
A reproduction of a red English phone booth guards the entryway of the Massapequa Park gastro pub, signaling the presence of such British pub classics as fish and chips and shepherd's pie. You'll even find chicken tikka masala, with white-meat chicken in a rich, fragrant, lightly spiced sauce plated with warm flatbread and basmati rice. Fish and chips are a beaut, light beer-battered cod, house-made potato chips and a bright tartar sauce. As far as drinks are concerned, go for one of 24 beers on tap -- many from England -- more than 70 bottled, or a refreshing cider.
The Jolly Fisherman & Steak House
The Jolly Fisherman & Steak House has been a consistently top surf-and-sometimes-turf destination since 1957. Steven Scheiner is currently the chef-owner of the family’s restaurant, which has a clubby, traditional look and manner. Recommended: stone crabs, shad and shad roe, Nantucket Bay scallops, bluepoint oysters, fish and chips, steamed lobster, Maryland crabcakes, fried Ipswich clams, broiled red snapper, macadamia-nut crusted salmon, banana cream pie.
The Lake House
Relocated and expanded this season, The Lake House now looks onto Great South Bay. But the New American restaurant from Eileen and Matthew Connors keeps to what made it an essential South Shore destination: excellent, seasonal New American cuisine. Recommended: caramelized local sea scallops with fava beans, ramps, fingerling potatoes, peas; crisp suckling pig with Parmesan-spiked polenta; herb-marinated skirt steak with roasted-garlic potatoes and Gorgonzola butter; the lobster roll served with local chips; the house burger made with a custom blend; Long Island duck breast and confit of duck leg with pomegranate-pistachio glaze; Berkshire pork chop with green apple, blue cheese, and caramelized onion gratin; steamed halibut with jasmine rice, peanuts, and lemongrass-coconut broth.
The North Fork Shack
Samy Sabil and Ryan Flatley, former staffers at North Fork Table & Inn, converted a tool shop for Cessna airplanes into North Fork Shack, a compelling little spot with a chalkboard menu of local ceviche, clam chowder, pulled lamb and fresh-catch sandwiches. Taco and tostadas please meat lovers and vegetarians alike, and gluten-free diners are not ignored. For dessert, chocolate-chip cookies and lemon cupcakes with pistachio buttercream taunt from the counter.
The North Fork Table & Inn
Stephan Bogardus succeeded the late, celebrated chef Gerry Hayden here, and made it his own. The serene, charming restaurant is focused and grand, from tasting menus onward. Recommended: Crisp cod-and-Yukon Gold potato cake, 8 Hands Farm pork pate, summer truffle-and-ricotta cavatelli, local wild striped bass with fava beans, poached Montauk fluke, roast Crescent Farm duck breast with wild rice, pistachio-lavender crusted rack of lamb, all desserts from pastry chef Claudia Fleming.
The Palm at The Huntting Inn
Celebrities alight onto many East Hampton restaurants. But The Palm still can be the toughest reservation in town. It’s the very countrified branch of the group, which serves more than superior steak. Recommended: carpaccio of beef tenderloin, thick-cut bacon, colossal crab meat cocktail, shrimp cocktail, clams casino, linguine with white clam sauce, veal and chicken parmigiana, double-cut strip steak for two or three, New York strip steak, filet mignon, broiled lobster.
Douglas Gulija’s elegant and easygoing restaurant is, on any day, Long Island’s big catch: creative, seasonal, devoted to outstanding ingredients. Recommended: lobster-and-shrimp shepherd’s pie, horseradish-crusted cod, pan-seared local calamari with piquillo peppers and preserved Meyer lemon, local fluke sashimi, wild sockeye salmon crudo, oysters with sturgeon caviar, pancetta-wrapped wild Pacific shrimp, local black sea bass, herb-crusted rack of lamb, all desserts.
Thomas's Ham & Eggery
There’s often a line here for great renditions of classic diner fare. Most egg dishes are served in a skillet, such as the fontina and pancetta frittata or homemade corned beef hash topped with a fried egg. Stuffed lemon ricotta French toast is delectable, and drizzled with blueberry syrup. For lunch and dinner, there are satisfying soups, piled-high salads, overstuffed sandwiches and platters of meatloaf, liver and onions or fried clams.
Toku Modern Asian is a showcase for handsome design and creative cuisine. It’s situated in the Americana shopping center. Recommended: toro tartare, fluke tiradito, chu-toro carpaccio, Japanese snapper, amberjack, sweet shrimp, live scallop; traditional sushi rolls; house special sushi rolls; lobster taco; yellowtail with jalapeño and ponzu sauce; pork buns; kung pao chicken; Kurobuta pork gyoza; octopus carpaccio with crisp fried leeks; pork ramen; chicken ramen; Kobe beef and shishito pepper skewer; roasted lobster with udon noodles.
If you don’t think hummus can achieve culinary greatness, book a table at Lola. From its inception in 2009, Michael Ginor’s menu blended New American concepts with global influences—Thai, Korean, French, Italian, Middle Eastern among them. Last year Ginor, with an assist from chef de cuisine Lenny Messina, began leaning harder on the Mediterranean flavors that informed his late, lamented Great Neck kosher restaurant Tel Aviv (2008-2011), particularly those of the Levant and North Africa. Recommended (in addition to made-to-order hummus): lamb malawach, a flaky Yemeni-inspired lamb pizza; chicken schnitzel with pickled vegetables; seared Hudson Valley duck breast with toasted farro and Swiss chard. Lola serves one of LI’s best and most inventive Sunday brunches, including Shakshouka, eggs poached in a stew of tomatoes and peppers.
The beach meets the farmhouse in the new room adjacent to the original dining room at Tula Kitchen. It's a whitewashed space with lots of light and a vegetarian-friendly breakfast, brunch and lunch menus. The fluffy flapjacks (called flap-Jackies, named for the owner, Jackie Sharlup) are some of the best around, while the take on egg sandwiches are elevated, layered with fresh veggies on pretzel croissants or brioche. Greens, bowls and veg-forward pastas showcase the lunch menu, while veggie burgers, falafels and chicken sandwiches wear dressings, charred or caramelized veggies, slaw or cheese.
A small spot in downtown Huntington has put together a menu that shows off quality ingredients, local sourcing and skill -- and there's a late-night menu until 2 a.m. Burgers are the stars, of course, made from a beef blend from Farmingdale's Main Street Meats. A balance of brioche to burger, they're popular dressed with bacon, tomato jam and a sheath of Cheddar for the Villager, or caramelized onions, roasted mushrooms and Gruyere for the Wild Life. A favorite is the Evil Sal, with ghost pepper marmalade with an onion ring on a pretzel bun, hold the pepper jack. Burger alternatives include fried chicken on a waffle bun, as well as the vegetarian-friendly black-bean sweet-potato burger or the upmarket grilled cheese. Drinks may steal the show, from the handful of cocktails, nearly 20 craft beer taps and as many cans.
Verde Wine Bar & Ristorante
Papa Joe’s pizzeria occupied this workaday location for 20 years before Anthony Carcaterra, the owners’ son, transformed it into a New American restaurant and bistro in 2014. The architectural bones of the pizzeria are still visible (and every entree still comes with a free salad — old habits die hard), but chef James Ahern’s menu is exceedingly modern. He’s got a thing for offal: veal sweetbreads and pork ear "carbonara" are both recommended, as are the roasted clams with sarvecchio cheese; pork belly; rabbit leg with fennel and trumpet mushrooms; and halibut with fregola, broccoli raab and olives. The eclectic beers, wines and spirits on hand are all American produced.
For more than 30 years, owners Akira and Yasuko Yamaguchi have been serving sushi that is focused and unadorned, attracting a devoted following. Their creations delight purists seeking simplicity and clarity. Recommended: fatty tuna, maguro tuna, yellowtail, mackerel, scallops, and any sushi or sashimi your host or hostess suggests; fluke usuzukuri; squid with cod roe; salmon roe with grated yam; fried icefish; lobster katsu.
One of the pioneers in Northern Suffolk’s authentic Chinese surge, Yao’s was opened by Adam Yao to offer fellow expatriate Stony Brook University students a taste of their native land, specifically the fiery cuisine of Northern China where cumin and chilies contribute a depth and heat that may surprise diners expecting the subtlety of Cantonese cooking. Among don’t-miss dishes: incendiary cumin lamb, West Lake beef soup, deep-fried crabs, steamed pork ribs, pickled cabbage and Chinese celery with bamboo shoots. English-language menu guidance can be spotty.
Interactive Editor: Alison Bernicker | Design: Matthew Cassella | Development: TC McCarthy, Jon Ingoglia Reported by: Peter M. Gianotti, Melissa McCart, Erica Marcus | Editor: Marjorie Robins | Photo Editor: Rebecca Cooney