One of the greatest things about living on Long Island is our access to just about every cuisine know to man. Even the least daring (boring) diner has tried a variety of Asian, Italian and Latin American cuisine. It’s time to expand horizons—think of the LIE as a runway to exotic international dining and try a new place every weekend. Passports not required.
Eclectic New American
Bob’s Place Restaurant
230 Jericho Tpke, Floral Park
(516) 354-8185, http://www.bobsplacerestaurant.com
Tue-Sun, Lunch & Dinner, Sunday Brunch
Bob’s is the kind of place that feels like an old friend—warm, honest and familiar, but new and surprising every time. The restaurant claims a 75-year culinary journey and it continues in this chic, elegant (but far from pretentious), contemporary locale. The term “New American” couldn’t fit better—classic dishes are improved with the flavors of Eastern Europe, Asia and the Mediterranean. It’s the kind of place your table can order mustard seed crusted baby rack of veal, pickled herring, a good old fashioned aged black angus NY sirloin and a roasted horseradish crusted Atlantic salmon. As if that’s not enough, they offer vegetarian dishes and use the freshest (local when possible) ingredients.
1153 E. Jericho Tpke, Huntington
(631) 549-5506, http://www.kabulny.com
Dinner 7 Days
File this one under “can’t judge a book by its cover.” At first, Kabul seems to be a typical Jericho Turnpike strip-mall venue, but these looks are deceiving. What the somewhat Spartan (albeit authentic) décor lacks, it quickly makes up for with ambiance and great traditional fare. You won’t be able to say enough about the Aushak (lightly minted leek filled pasta in garlic-yogurt meat sauce), Kadu (steamed pumpkin dipped in homemade honey topped with a meat-garlic-yogurt sauce) or meats prepared with spices, grape leaves, vegetables, honey dried fruit and berries. Overall, this cuisine is light, sweet and aromatic. Bellydancers are known to make the rounds. Don’t forget to order Gulab Jamun and Qaimagh Chai!
850 Franklin Ave, Garden City
(516) 877-2177, http://www.waterzooi.com
Lunch & Dinner Daily
Somewhere along the way beer got a bum rap (Animal House?), but savvy foodies know that beer is as worthy a complement to good food as wine. At Waterzooi, you have your choice of over 130 Belgian beers to go with top-notch casual gastronomy like Moules Pots. For English speakers, this would be mussels served with frites and mayonnaise, and they offer a variety of twelve different kinds like Fra Diavlo, Lucifer, Creole, Paella or Blue Moon, to name a few. Entrées boast names like Zalm, Seul and Kip, but are familiar in their composition, and of course, go great with beer. Still not convinced? Waterzooi also offers an international wine list.
Mirabelle at Three Village Inn
150 Main Street, Stony Brook
(631) 751-0555, http://www.threevillageinn.com
What do you get when you cross two favorites of the Long Island restaurant scene? Inspired French cuisine at a traditional country inn. AKA: Acclaimed chef Guy Reuge in the kitchen and the powerhouse restaurant family, the Lessings, at the helm of its operations. This is French without the frou-frou—portions are a good size and hearty things like Provencal vegetables and port sauces share the menu with signature plates like duck in two courses and raw ahi tuna. As it was at its old venue, Mirabelle in the new is as close as you can get to great French food without the seven-hour flight.
1043 Northern Blvd
(516) 869-8989, http://www.limaniny.com
Lunch Mon-Fri, Dinner Daily, Brunch Sun
Long Island has its share of Greek kebab and meat on a spit places, but Limani is something else. The opulent, well-appointed, very tasteful, very chic décor is remarkable and the feeling carries through to the last lick of dessert. Start with the Kolokithi (paper thin zucchini, eggplant, and kefalograviera cheese, lightly fried) and when in Rome, or Athens, or Roslyn, as the case may be, order the Agiorgitiko Gaia Nemea (one of the Greek red wines available among Napa, French and Italians). Greek food is based on fish. Exotic Greek Fagri is similar to a meaty snapper (you’ll never forget how good it is) and is waiting for you, as are Arctic Char, Swordfish, Pompano, St. Pierre, lobster and many others. This is a place you dress well for and frequent whenever you want to feel good.
640 Main St, Northport
Lunch & Dinner Daily
Think German and think Pumpernickels, it’s probably inevitable for anyone who’s driven down 25A in the last 30 years since that’s how long the restaurant has held ground there. True to its roots, the place is a lively family affair that serves traditional homemade dishes, like their famous Sauerbraten (tender meat in gravy with potato dumplings and red cabbage). Or go with Zigeunerbraten (filet mignon, gypsy style with bratkartoffel). Pumpernickels even promotes its ethnic neighbors—they offer Hungarian goulash and Bavarian favorites. This is a stick to the ribs place perfect for spending a long night while the wind howls outside.
696 Motor Pkwy, Hauppauge
Mon-Fri Lunch & Dinner, Sat Dinner Only
Long Island wouldn’t be Long Island without the best Italian restaurants outside of Italy peppering our landscape. And Sempre Vivolo is among the best of the best—they’re so good, so old school, they don’t even have a website. The first indication is the tuxedoed waitstaff that is so attentive, they seem to be reading your mind. Plates bearing names you know, like Carbonara and Bolognese, feel as welcoming as this family owned venue, only you’ve never tasted them so good. Seafood and a solid wine list are also tops. There are no doggie bags, but portions are not family-size so you won’t miss them.
495 S. Broadway, Hicksville
Wed-Mon Lunch & Dinner
There are three things you need to know about La Candella: Cevice, cevice, cevice. Don’t know cevice? It’s food of the gods—a blend of shrimp, scallops, and other fish (sometimes even lobster) lime, cilantro, and spices gently prepared. Many places attempt this, but it takes a Peruvian to get it right. Forget what you think you know about the fruits of the sea—cevice is the best, lightest, freshest way to eat seafood. It’s so delicate you can forget yourself and eat through a family-style platter without going into a food coma. Looking for something heartier? Try one of the many tangy meat or sausage entrées La Candella offers. BYOB.
166 Main St, Pt. Washington
(516) 767-3400, http://www.tavarestaurantandbar.com
Lunch & Dinner Daily
Long Islanders can now enjoy cuisine from the land where “East meets West,” thanks to Tava’s owners, who are Turkish. This cuisine offers the many flavors of a region that draws its influences from the various surrounding countries (think of it as a stylish, hip, spice market you can dine at). Turkish fare is a culinary crossroads where you can enjoy grilled meat and fish prepared in a potpourri of spices ranging from sweet to zesty. Other staples are eggplant, black currants, rice, nuts, and more spices. If you want to experience something exotic, this is the stop to delight all your senses.
The Frisky Oyster
27 Front Street, Greenport
(631) 477-4265, http://www.thefriskyoyster.com
If you can’t make up your mind on which cuisine to try next, try them all at Frisky Oyster. This Greenport gem is more than worth the trip—their tucked away location at our easternmost tip is part of the experience. The eight-year-old venue is tasteful, contemporary and smooth (think velvet, or cognac). The menu tends to feature the usual beef, chicken, fish (heavy on the fish), duck and pasta, but what’s different is the way this kitchen blends unpredictable influences (Asian with Italian, for instance). Likewise, the wine list boasts “unusual varietals from unusual regions.” This fall, they’re offering a rosé flight from Greece, Austria, France and California.