Long Island is a restaurant culture and food is an adventure. There’s nothing like a new or exotic dish—or an updated classic—to send the memory senses into overdrive. That first bite reaffirms everything you’ve heard about a restaurant or chef (or read on these pages). In developing our coverage of the best the island has to offer, we’ve kept notes on the truly different and special. We’ve sifted through a year’s worth of greatest hits and these are our surefire bets for everything from the first bite of an appetizer to the last forkful of dessert. This cheat sheet is your inside track on what to eat where—from the new spots that hit the mark to established eateries that never fail.
Crab Cake Eggs Benedict
Delmonico’s of Southampton
Consider this reinventing the wheel. Delmonico’s is credited with inventing eggs Benedict in the 1860s after Mrs. LeGrand Benedict complained to the chef about the lack of creativity on the menu. This modern twist replaces the chicken egg with a smaller one from a quail and eschews the bread for a crab cake. The heat from chili powder imported from the Basque Region of Spain cuts into the rich hollandaise while substantial chunks of pork belly replace the common Canadian bacon.
Read the review of Delmonico’s here
These tasty spears are beer-battered, deep-fried and served with lemon Dijon aioli dressing. Come spring their earthiness is a welcome nod to the season, though they play well year-round. Addictive vegetable noshing indeed.
Checkout Foodie Gossip for more
Its structure alone is enough to draw you in. Artfully stacked, paper-thin fried chips of eggplant and zucchini paired with a rich, punchy yogurt-based tzatziki sauce. Many Greeks have presented this offering, but Kyma is doing something different here, something just a little better.
Read the review of Kyma here
Il Mulino New York
This is the pasta lover’s pasta, yet for some reason it’s a rarity on most Italian menus. Bucatini is spaghetti’s bigger, hollow brother—it’s denser, thicker, usually longer and more satisfying to eat. It holds the spicy-salty sauce better too.
Il Mulino was featured in Tables by Number, read it here
PeraBell Food Bar
Winner of Pulse’s inaugural Battle of the Burger, the classic cheeseburger wowed the crowd because chef/owner John Peragine and co. started with quality beef and kept it simple. Wimpy would approve.
Read about the Best Burger on Long Island
The signature dish du jour of this destination restaurant. A spectacular duo of duck served two different ways. It morphs at the whim of the chef, always resulting in culinary fireworks. The menu changes daily, so call to ask if it’s available.
Read the review of Mirabelle here
This tasty slice of dessert art hits all the marks. Crisp layers of phyllo dough sandwich a filling of bananas and white chocolate yogurt
accompanied by organic strawberries. Note: Fresh sources only what is in season locally. This particular dish may or may not be available in the future, but we’re confident any alternate chef Todd Jacobs puts out will be just as delicious.
Not another word about how snails are icky, these are titans of delectability. Baked with a generous dollop of garlic butter, they’re the noblest manifestation of the gastropod. And tastiest. If you’re ever going to try them, this resurrected country French spot is the place.
Read our write-up of Le Soir here
Pickle Packin’ Papa
There is comfort in knowing Joy Glas continues the tradition of making pickles that she started with her late husband in 1985, putting much time and thought into a condiment most pay little attention to. And there is considerable pleasure in the hot punch of the jalapeño-spiked pickles she offers—and the advice not to throw the brine away. It can be used in cocktails or to pickle onions.
Don Sausser Apiaries
Venture into the supermarket and seek out local, unprocessed raw honey from the largest bee farm on LI. Sweet ambrosial flavor and boosted immune system to follow.
Read all about local honey here
There’s nothing around like this famed ovum, seriously. Not mere turducken-esque showmanship, it’s a soft-boiled egg swaddled in ground pork sausage, rolled in shards of panko breadcrumbs and lovingly fried. Tuck into one and the still-warm runny yolk spills out, becoming a sauce for the crispy sausage. It’s hot, fatty and salty in the perfect proportion. The appetizer of champions.
Get the recipe here!
Jefferson Parish Blackened Gator
Smoky and habanero-level spicy tail meat served up on a skewer. Star of last year’s Exotic Meats feature, this one comes right from a Louisiana parish known for its population of alligators. The menu changes daily, give them a call before going to make sure it’s on the docket.
Read our write-up of Le Soir here
Westerners may know pumpkin solely for pie, but this Afghani cuisine hotspot weaves it deliciously into this traditional dish. It’s dipped in honey and topped with a savory meat sauce, garlic-yogurt and mint.
Kabul was featured in our International Dining feature here
Café Buenos Aires
Argentinian owner Hugo Garcia imports a classic dish from home, twisted to suit the American palate with leeks, white beans and sundried tomatoes in a garlic sauce. The result is a very tender, approachable introduction to sweetbreads. The squeamish best not ask what it is, the genuinely curious should google “calves’ throat glands.”
Read our write-up of Café Buenos Aires here
Sweet, salty and delicious all over, this stuffed pasta atop a velvety cream can be found nowhere else but within this newcomer’s confines. A fresh tortellini purse filled with sweet, smooth pear and mild, salty ricotta is topped with shaved pear, cream sauce and truffle oil. We advise you make no promises about sharing it with dinner mates.
Read the review of Trento here
South Shore Pretzel Company
Self taught baker John Gallagher started the company three years ago because he couldn’t find a decent soft pretzel anywhere. The ones “at the mall were just insulting—too heavy on the butter flavoring. You don’t get the taste of the pretzel.” Two of his most popular German-style, handmade beauties are dressed with your choice of sea salt or cinnamon and brown sugar.
South Shore Pretzel featured in Foodie Gossip here
Left Coast Kitchen
A good breakfast should have just a little bit of adventure to it. The Sneaky Pete at LCK, a tribute to NYC chef Kenny Shopsin, is just that: Three perfectly poached eggs over jalapeño-garlic cheese bread with crumbled bacon, tomatoes and scallions. The funny thing about this bathtub of a breakfast is it makes you hungrier.
Read our feature on LCK’s Chef Randell (including a recipe for Jalapeño-Bacon Corn Cakes)
Vintage Prime Steak House
When you want a steak—not marinated steak, not steak smothered in this or that—go with the full flavored cowboy cut. Pulse will cover the bill for anyone who shows up, orders and eats one while wearing chaps.
Steak Doneness by Hand
Get a Grip on Steak
Cutting into a steak to check the doneness bleeds out its juice. Instead use the fleshy part of your palm, at the base of the thumb, to replicates the feel of beef, from a medium rare steak to a well-done burger.
Raw – Soft, with a very red and cool center.
Rare – Seared on the outside with a red, warm center.
Medium Rare – Seared with a warm, pink center.
Medium – Slightly pink center.
Well done – Consistently cooked and browned throughout.
Al Fresco Dining All Year Long
Even though summer is over, you can still dine under the moon and stars…and there are a number of LI restaurants that heat up the chilly air with al fresco dining experiences.
A chic outdoor lounge with cabanas and couches, dotted with small fire-topped pillars.
The steak star has two outdoor areas: A full-service dining room sporting a 16-foot linear fireplace and radiant floor heating along with a heated lounge.
Mill Pond House, Centerport
On the pond, this haute eatery deploys a glass enclosure and cranks the heaters.
Stellar views of Huntington Harbor from the heated outdoor porch or drinks only on the Fantail, featuring a large firepit.
Overhead radiant heat warms the secluded outdoor area of this steak and sushi destination.