Ristorante Cinque Terre, Jericho Turnpike, Huntington

Fresh Fig and Prosciutto, over baby greens, w/ strawberries & balsamic glaze.

      Worth the 5 minute ride out of the heart of Huntington Village, Cinque Terre is my new favorite in Huntington!  This neighborhood gem serves up expertly prepared food in an exquisite atmosphere, for a reasonable price.  We went for lunch and were pleasantly surprised at the reasonably priced lunch menu.  We were seated in an elegant dining room filled with crystal chandeliers -  one of five beautiful dining rooms at Cinque Terre, including a ballroom which can hold up to 150 guests.  Perfect for any party, large or small!   We started with an appetizer of Fresh Fig and Prosciutto Parma, served with sweet caramelized strawberries and balsamic glaze which left me speechless.  The Farm Fresh Mozzarella Burrata appetizer was oozing with creaminess, and topped with a light pesto, served with arugula and tomato. I'd go back just for this!  The entreé of Mushroom Risotto was cooked perfectly from the al dente, creamy and tender arborio rice to the spectacular choice of mushrooms.  Finally, a pasta dish made with hand crafted pouches of fresh pasta filled with gorgonzola and walnuts in a garlic cream sauce was simply unbelievable.  Can't wait to go back for dinner! If you live or work in the neighborhood, put Cinque Terre on your list of favorites - its not only a special occasion destination!!!

  • Mozzarella Burrata w/ Pesto & Arugula.

  • Hand Made Pasta Pouches filled with Gorgonzola & Walnuts

  • One of the five Dining Rooms at Cinque Terre

Hush Bistro, Main Street, Farmingdale NY

     So, there's a new guy in Town of Farmingdale and he's making quite a splash these days!! Chef Marc Anthony Bynum (2x winner of Chopped) has opened his first restaurant in my home town, our own burgeoning food mecca on the South Shore. [After all, Huntington does not have to claim every restaurant on LI!]  Hush Bistro boasts an innovative menu highlighting local & organic flavors enhanced by traditional & new cooking techniques. They do not disappoint! I was so excited to get there I couldn't even wait for dinner... I had been hearing about the burgers and I discovered that the lunch menu fulfilled all expectations. 

     We were warmly welcomed into this cozy bistro decorated with dark woods, tables made from antique sewing machines and a gorgeous expansive bar.  I sensed at once we were in for a treat. We splurged for my birthday and ordered the "Spiked Cider," and it was absolutely wonderful. It was made fresh and served steaming hot with a cinnamon stick! This cider goes a step beyond, with flavors of citrus and spices that almost make the spiked irrelevant (almost). It was a perfect accompaniment to the Lobster Bisque which was rich and tantalizing, garnished with evoo and mini toasts.  The staff is friendly and accommodating, whatever your question or concern. We were not caused any delay, but were permitted to linger as long as we liked.  How delightful!!  The widely publicized "Kimchi Burger" was, in fact, as delightful as we hoped. The Kimchi is house made, as is the huge moist chicken burger, slaw and Korean Bbq sauce, all topped with a perfectly cooked sunny egg. This looked as beautiful as it tasted. Spicy, but not overwhelming. Perfect.  Of course, I couldn't resist the "Grilled Cheese" which might sound a bit dull at first, but this one was filled with white cheddar, fontina, smoked gouda, braised oxtail and homemade pickled red onion. There are no words....  

     Finally, one quick note here about the pickles - There were lovely little pickles on our serving blocks (yes, blocks. have to commend the waitstaff for carrying those around) which neither of us had eaten, because we were all absorbed in everything else wonderful and eventually just stuffed. When our waiter (who was quite knowledgeable, helpful and just plain fun) came to clear, he asked why we didn't try the pickle and suggested we do. I thought this a little strange..., just a small pickle. But he truly insisted, saying they were also house-made. Ok, so we each took the pickle and tasted it. OMG...it was the best darn pickle I have ever eaten in my life. Tender, just a touch of sour, flooded with flavor...I was sorry I didn't order a whole plate of pickles (and I don't usually care for them much)! I can't wait to go back for dinner, but I'm gonna call ahead and make sure they save me some pickles!! Good luck Chef Bynum.

  • Spiked Cider & Lobster Bisque - Mmmmm

  • Butternut Squash Soup

  • Grilled Cheeses w/ Braised oxtail & Pickled Onion

Little Red, 76-C Jobs Lane, Southampton NY

     Although advertised as "casually upscale, classic café style dining,"  Little Red in Southampton Village offers a definite upscale cuisine, at upscale prices.  Nevertheless, on our visit the food was excellent and worth the cost...and the crowd.  We visited after the summer rush in the Hampton, yet we luckily nabbed a table at 7pm since the restaurant was quite packed, both inside and outside on their lovely covered terrace. 

     Starting with the wine list, you could choose from a nice variety of white, red or rosé wines, 'though most were domestic.  The bar was jumping, and the beer-on-tap appeared quite popular.  Given the heat, I opted out of the wine, but both the red and white enjoyed by the glass by my generous dining companions for the evening got rave reviews.  I started with the Tuna Tartar w/ Cucumber Relish & Ginger-Lime Vinaigrette.  I ate every single bite! The tuna was fresh and firm, perfectly diced (not smashed), and sprinkled with similarly diced cucumbers, onions, and other fresh veggies.  The dressing was light and tasty, but did not overwhelm the tuna.  This was excellent, both visually and tastily!  We also ordered the Roasted Beet Salad w/Red & Golden Beets, Roquefort Crusted Goat Cheese & Port Wine Reduction.  The chef was kind enough to split it for two and, as with the tuna, every ingredient was delicious. (I don't care for beets, but I'm told they were sweet and cooked just right, combining perfectly with the goat cheese and reduction).

      On to dinner, we knew the Grilled Salmon had gotten excellent reviews and, true to form it was delicious. It came w/ Warm Summer Vegetable, Farrow & Lentil Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette and every bit of it was gone when we were done! I must note here that Little Red knows how to cook lentils!  I ordered one of the daily specials - a Crabmeat Ravioli with a light tomato reduction.  The Ravioli was lovely, full of crabmeat, and the tomatoes were local and cooked perfectly, yet the sauce was a bit overwhelming for the delicacy of the crab.  Lastly, another special of the night was the Braised Striped Bass w/ a broth enhanced by Little Neck Clams & Chorizo.  A classic Spanish-style dish with a local twist - well-prepared.   

     Little Red has been a welcome addition to the little village of Southampton and, no doubt, we will be back again.  

  • Little Red's Beet Salad w/ Roquefort encrusted Goat Cheese.

  • Tuna Tartaré w/ Cucumber Relish & Ginger-Lime dressing.

  • Salmon w/Summer Vegetables, Farrow & Lentil Salad.

The Good Life, Park Boulevard, Massapequa Park, NY

House Roasted Turkey Sandwich w/ Brie, Cranberry Mayo, Apple Stuffing and Mixed Greens, served with Side Salad.

     I sure was looking forward to this one. New from the owners of The Phoenix in Seaford: The Good Life- restaurant, pub, bar & grill. I couldn’t wait, as Phoenix is one of my favorite Tapas places on Long Island. Why am I gushing about a restaurant I am not reviewing? Because at Phoenix, each time I'm there the staff is friendly, knowledgeable & accommodating, the food so perfect, and I expected the same excellence at The Good Life, and I was wrong to compare. Ok, enough of that!  
     We walk into The Good Life, very appealing from the outside, and nicely appointed inside. They try and give you the feel of a London-type Pub, & they succeed, right down to that cold London attitude. We arrived in the middle of the lunch-hour, the restaurant was very slow, maybe two other tables occupied.  We were greeted by the hostess and seated at a booth, quite suitable for for people. However, the booths were hard wood, the tables were nailed to the wall and could not be moved, & so close to the benches I could barely breathe.  Ok, I know, I am not a slim person, and its not the restaurant’s fault, I get it.  But we voluptuous ladies don't enjoy food falling into our blouses!  I noted they had tables in another section, but it was closed off for lunch.  Ok, but, they also had larger half-circle booths which could seat six people and were much roomier.  So, when our waiter came over I asked if we could possibly to sit there. (not one of those tables were occupied then, or at any point during the lunch hour at The Good Life). He refused, indicating that they were only for bigger parties.  I pointed out that there was no one else there and they did have about 5 open and available, he continued to refuse, even when I complained out that these booths were very uncomfortable for me. Now, I would normally have just left, but I was lured in by the promise of great food, so I asked if there were tables in the bar area.  He says: “yes.” That's it.  Yes.  ???  I'm thinking, why on earth wouldn’t he offer one?  I asked if we could sit there and he indicated we could if we wanted.  Scary.  I sure hope he isn’t the owner.   Ok, lets get past this.  
     We are now greeted by a lovely young waitress who takes our drink orders.  The menus are printed on paper, designed to look like a newspaper. Cute, except when they get wet or torn & not replaced. Yuk.  Yet, the food looks delicious and I want to sample everything.  I'm still thinking "Phoenix." Since its lunch, my plan is to make a meal of appetizers and take whatever we don’t finish home.  Hubby must have an entree, so we decide to share one of the sandwich specials, The Countryside Turkey Sandwich, house roasted, with Brie, Cranberry Mayo, Apple Stuffing & Mixed Greens.  This turns out to be one of the best things on the menu that we tasted, in fact one of the best turkey sandwiches I’ve had ever, served with a beautiful mixed greens salad, filled with wallnuts, raisins goat cheese, etc....  Well, at least there was that.  
     Unfortunately, when we asked our waitress what she recommended in the way of appetizers, she indicated, "I don't know anything about them, I've only been here about a week." (no staff training?)  So…, this is what we discovered about the Appe’s: Chicken Cordon Blue Balls, served w/ a spiced Gravy and a Cranberry Reduction. These were good, if not a tad dry, but both the Gravy and the Cranberry accompaniments transformed this dish from a boring Cordon Bleu into treat.  Chicken & Lemongrass Pot Stickers, served w/ Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce & Pickled Red Onion.  Excellent, perfectly prepared, delicately seasoned and served hot and steamy.  Loved this one.  Mashed Potato Wontons w/ Cheddar Cheese, Bacon, Sour Cream Chives.  Not what you would expect.  It sounds like a stuffed wonton type dish, but what you get is a fried wonton chip (which alone is very good) topped with watery mashed potatoes (no butter or cream?), cheddar cheese, and the entire dish sprinkled with bacon that did not taste like bacon.  (odd) Sour cream on the side. They do look good in the photo!  Finally, The Tuna Tower, now this is where those Wonton Chips shine - a lovely mound of spicy tuna, layered with guacamole, served appropriately with chopsticks and fresh chips.  This was perfect. 
     Overall, the servings were plentiful, the food was decent and the prices were reasonable.  We ended up with more food than we could eat, for about $50.00, some of which was worth taking home.  Not sure I’ll be going out of my way to go back, but if you're in the neighborhood, check it out for dinner.  Being a die-hard Phoenix fan, I won't give up, and I am going to make my way over to another one of their new ventures, JAM, also in Massapequa Park, but open as a restaurant only for breakfast and lunch, and doubles as a catering venue at night.  I’ll keep you posted...
  • Mashed Potato Wontons

  • Potstickers & Spicy Tuna Tower

  • Chicken Cordon Bleu Balls

Jan. 1, 2015


As you may have heard, Chef Del Lima left the lovely Chow Down Diner to return to Vitae in Huntington, and is spending what spare time he has left at his restaurant consulting business NY Metro Consulting, presently focusing on the opening on the White Oak Oyster Bar in NYC. Meanwhile, Chow Down is under new ownership and a new name. (Haven't been there since)

Chow Down Diner, Hempstead Tpke & Rt. 107 in Bethpage NY

Truffle-Cheese Fries

       Open only a couple of weeks, Chow Down Diner already presents a new concept dining.  Exquisitely prepared comfort food (be it salad, stew, burgers or fried chicken) offered with a unique gourmet twist, from an innovative and brilliant Chef, at a reasonable price.  It sounds impossible, but it has been done.  The opportunity to sample this high standard of food preparation and dining at reasonable prices is a real treat - and Chow Down delivers with creativity & flair!
     It was just before noon on a weekday and, as you enter you realize this isn't your average diner.  Impressive from the brand new exterior featuring a retro design, through the interior, which delightfully mixes the retro designs of the 60s and 70’s with the modern and trendy atmosphere you find in the best restaurants.  The muted tones of gold, brown, and orange combine with beautiful wooden finishes throughout the main dining area.  A look in the back features another room, with a real 70's vibe, suitable for those very busy times when the main dining room is full, or even a private party.  Wherever you sit, you suddenly become aware that you are in for a very memorable meal.  
     Breakfast is served until noon**, and has its very own menu and, although we did not sample from the breakfast choices, the menu is filled with mouthwatering dishes.  The entreés I saw delivered to the surrounding tables sure did look wonderful - the pancakes were plentiful, the French Toast served with Fresh Berries smelled phenomenal, and the variety of eggs and omelets would leave no one wanting.  
       Lunch/Dinner service begins at noon, and the menu surprisingly offers a wide array of soups, salads, appetizers, sandwiches, burgers and complete meals.  You won’t find your typical colorless, bland diner food here; nor will you get a 15 page to choose from.  You won’t need it.  All your standards are available: from cheese fries, chicken soup and chili to meatloaf, fried chicken and pasta.  BUT, this is where the fun starts, because you won’t get mom’s chicken soup.  You get a homemade from-scratch, delicate free range chicken broth infused with flavor, and a matzoh ball the size of a baseball, but light as air and filled with chicken, fresh dill and some other magic that makes it pop.  That is one soup not to be missed.  Likewise, you won’t find cheese fries & gravy, but you will enjoy the most flavorful Hand Cut Truffle-Cheese Fries; crisp on the outside, soft inside, covered with melted Parmesan and Mozzarella Cheese, Crispy Prosciutto and Scallions, all drizzled with Truffle Oil, full of flavor, not one single fry soggy - served with a Light & Creamy Parmesan Dipping Sauce, of which you cannot get enough.  Similarly, if you order a bowl of chili you won't get a bowl of unknown meat in plain old greasy diner red bean chili.  Here, you will find Four Hour Long Island Duck Chili, with Red & Black Beans, Pale Ale, Scallion, Melted Jack  & Cheddar Cheese, and a drizzle of Sour Cream.  Its so perfectly put together, you almost don’t want to eat it.
       Now, those of you who know me will please bear with me when I tell you that Chef Steve is a wizard when it comes to food combinations.  I tasted that Chili and right off the bat I knew it was special.  It was loaded with ground duck, yet there was no hint of the gamey taste you expect.  Instead, you relish a mouthful of rich, savory, flavorful chili that is at the same time light as it is rich.  The meat tasted clean and bright, so I had to ask.  I was desperate to know, and I do.  While I won't give away a Chef’s secret, I can promise that you will be in awe when you taste it.  The appetizer portions at Chow Down could be a meal to some - especially those fries & chili, but its so worth it.
     Ok, enough - there is so much more to enjoy after your starters.  Do Not Miss out on the Meatballs, whether you choose the standard Beef, Pork & Veal; Chicken & Arugula or Lamb & Feta, you can’t go wrong.  You can choose your meat and choose your sauce - from San Marzano Tomato, Vodka Sauce or Pesto Cream; and you can add your meatballs to a choice of pasta for a $1.00.  A full dinner for $8 to $10 dollars?  A bargain price for a deluxe taste -- the Lamb & Feta Meatballs w/ the Pesto Cream Sauce is heavenly.  Three large meatballs,  lusciously paired with a silky smooth sauce, it was grandly indulgent & a bit decadent.  The meat was soft and tender inside, delicately spiced and cooked perfectly, and served in a crock.  I willingly confess to bringing home some of everything we tried - except the meatballs.  I ate every single one, all the sauce, and I would do it again!  It was that good.  Then, since I didn't order the $1.00 pasta, I couldn’t deny the Truffle Mac-n-Cheese: Traditional Elbow Pasta with White Truffle Cheese Sauce, Prosciutto and Toasted Green-herb Breadcrumbs.  The aroma of that truffle-cheese sauce will remain in my mind for quite some time, and the subtle, yet present flavor is over-the-top.  For those who haven’t tried it, the aroma and taste of Black Truffle is akin to mushroom, but with a stronger earthy, meaty or musky taste. (a White Truffle has a more subtle, floral taste.)  Its been said that a truffle is the diamond of the kitchen.  In this kitchen, Chef Steve’s wizardy is at work as he passes his magic wand over an average mac-n-cheese and evokes the essence of “umami”: Perfect mac-n-cheese, with earthy, rich, dark and mysteriously distinctive flavor.
       I didn’t want to share, but couldn’t eat the huge portion served, so I had to take it home.  I’ll be dreaming of it until tomorrow, and I'm still not sharing.  (Oh, if you really don't like Truffle, you can choose from Classic or Lobster Mac-n-Cheese also.  Go with the Truffle.
       There’s more.  While my dining companion sat very patiently (or not) listening to me gush over meatballs and mac-n-cheese (looking at me a bit warily) he was enjoying a true home-cooked favorite of his own, Lamb Shepard’s Pie, and he was smart enough to shut up about it.  Still, I managed a taste and it was as it should be: served in a bubbling crock, filled with a steaming mixture of Ground Lamb, Root Vegetables, Sweet Peas, and topped with a crust of Cheesy Mashed Potatoes.  Divine.  Even better, the Shepherd’s Pie was one of the “Blue Plate Specials,” one of 4 or 5 Specials which includes 3 courses for just about $15.00.  Each one comes with a choice of Soup or Salad and a dessert of House-made Gelato (fantastic) or Sorbet (next time).  I have not found this quality of food, in a normal size serving, for these prices, anywhere.  Not to mention the fresh Egg-Cream Sodas!  I’m not sure how they do it, but at Chow Down, you can “have your gourmet food, eat it and afford to pay for it too!!”
       As for the service, our Server was efficient, knowledgable about the food, friendly and patient.  Everything came out hot and exactly as ordered - the experience was delightful.  I observed most tables were similarly tended.  Having opened just two weeks ago, some staff must still complete training and tasting - the kind of training only “on-the-job” can deliver.  Yet, Chow Down was busy by the time we left, and seemed to be running smoothly.   You should know that Chef Steve maintains a standard of excellence, no matter what you order.  Your food has not been sitting on warmers all day, and since everything is cooked “to order,” some patience is required.  Don’t walk in and expect a basket of rolls tossed on the table, don't expect to be rushed or pushed out quickly.  Do walk in and enjoy the dining experience Chow Down has to offer.   If there were any timing or service issues, it appears they are already being worked on and will be executed as flawlessly as the food is prepared.  There is a Manager on the floor at all times, along with a Hostess, and sufficient waiters & servers.  We did not wait to be seated, we were greeted promptly and our waiter appeared immediately.  We were served our appetizers within 15 minutes or less, and subsequent courses at reasonable intervals.  We got the check as soon as we asked (having to wait for the check is a pet peeve of mine) and the transaction was error-free.  Objectively, this is a brand new, sparkling indication of even more excellent meals to come, so try it soon before word gets out.  Personally, I’m going back tomorrow!!!  (take a look at the photos and then just try and resist!)
**Chow Down & Breakfast Update:  Well it appears to be true that Chow Down serves an Absolutely Wonderful Breakfast/Brunch Menu.  In fact its so wonderful and in such high demand that the intent was to serve breakfast all day.  It was a lofty goal to maintain Chef Steve's high standards while cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner all at once.  So, hot off the presses: In an effort to serve customers the freshest and most innovative breakfast creations, Chow Down will limit its breakfast/brunch menu service to the morning, and until 12 noon.  In this way, the appropriate time will be available to prepare and insure that your breakfast selections will always come out perfect.  In the same way, after 12pm, the Chef's full attention will be devoted to lunch and dinner, and you will receive the most fresh, original and creative preparations that you have already come to expect!  Enjoy.  
  • House-Made Matzoh Ball Soup

  • Duck Chili, w/ Ale, Jack & Cheddar, & Sour Cream

  • Lamb & Feta Meatballs, Light Pesto Cream Sauce

  • Lamb Shepard's Pie w/ Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

  • Truffle Baked Mac-n-Cheese

  • House Baked Individual Desserts

Trento Italian Restaurant and Bar, Rte 110, Farmingdale

Kobe Beef Meatball - enough for 2 - 4 to share as an appetizer, or 1 for dinner.

   I purposely got there early to enjoy a quiet drink, and it was as beautiful visually as it was delicious - Ciroc over a Giant Ice Ball!  Great concept, which went perfectly with the fine service, casual but classy decor and the welcoming staff.  To start, we had the Kobe Beef Meatball, topped with homemade sauce and creamy ricotta - soooo tender inside.  Troffolini: My fav of the night. Freshly made tortollini purses filled with pear and ricotta, with shaved pear and a light cream sauce. I almost ate every one!  And, finally, the Margherita Pizza — at Trento Restaurant, perfectly cooked, light and full of flavor, crispy thing crust.  I have to admit, there was not a need they didn't anticipate, from fresh ground pepper to grated parmesan.  Thanks to Carmen for his constant yet not overwhelming attention, and even the bus staff was attentive but not obtrusive.  We were not rushed out, despite our inability to have coffee or dessert. (The truffolini finished me off!) My dining companion Lori took half her pizza home.  Overall, it was a perfect dining experience, with the Owner and/or Manager stopping by at the end to ask our opinion and for suggestions.  I couldn't think of many.   Do be aware that this is not fast food, and they take care to make everything fresh, and the price does reflect it.  But I would eat that $19.00 meatball again if it was $50.00, and the Truffolini was a bargain at $19.00, serving more than you could eat.  Drink prices are reasonable, and no charge for refills on soda, which was brought before you could even ask.  How refreshing!  Thank you to the staff at Trento.  After a month you have a good thing going here and stick it out a while, give us a chance to get the word out, while you expand your menu a bit.  You're in Farmingdale, not Huntington, so add a few less expensive dishes and you will be here for a long time....  Especially if I have anything to say about it!   See you there, Deb

  • Perfect way to start the evening, Ciroc poured over an ice ball, with lime. Loved the concept! Have to get me one of those!!

  • My Favorite: the homemade Truffolini; tiny purses filled with ricotta & pear, adding just a tiny bit of sweetness to the cheese, in a light cream sauce. Going back for that!

  • The Margherita Pizza: Fresh, handmade, comes out hot and steamy with a perfect crispy crust.
    We're going back.

The Main Event, Rte. 110, (replacing Kodiaks) in Farmingdale, NY

photo by The Main Event

    At first, I was sad to Kodiak’s go. The food was good, the prices reasonable, the events generally a lot of fun.  But when I heard The Main Event was opening another location, I couldn’t wait.  They have been long-established in Plainview on Old Country Road for many years, and they have now taken over and renovated this huge location in Farmingdale.  I had to check it out as soon as possible. 
    We went on a Thursday evening around 6:30 and there were a number of tables already seated.  But  we were seated right away. As I said, very, very big.  If you get overwhelmed by lots of TVs, skip it, as Main Event boasts 50!  I was pleased to see Tiara, one of the best servers from Kodiaks, had stuck around.  I had heard the owners also own a seafood wholesale company so I was anxious to try the seafood and much to my delight, there was a whole special menu of seafood in addition to their regular voluminous menu.  So, our order: 2 Gin & Tonics (excellent), 1 appetizer of Steamers, 1 entrée of Soft Shelled Crabs Francaise over a Rice Pilaf, and 1 order of Fettuccini Alfredo w/ Shrimp, Chicken & Broccoli.
    I knew we were in for a good meal once I tasted the Steamers (For the uninitiated, like clams, but w/ a tail).  Our server came out with a large covered bowl full of them, hot & steaming, along with bowls of hot melted butter & clam broth.  More than enough for both of us.  So we dug in and happily, not one single clam in that bowl had a spec of sand in it!  I can't express how happy that made me.  I know steamers.  I grew up on the beach digging them up with my hands, watching them move around slowly in clean sea water as they flushed themselves out, then rinsing and cleaning them.  It was a requirement when I was a child and I cannot understand it when I go to a restaurant and end up with steamers full of sand (or even worse – sand in the broth).  These were pristine.  Cooked just right and sand free.  Great Job Main Event!
     Then, to our surprise, our entrées came with salad (house or Caesar).  You don’t see that much anymore.  It was fresh, crisp and the blue cheese dressing was really chunky.  Nice.  My entrée of Fettuccini was perfect, pasta cooked al dente’, but not too hard, tender shrimp & moist chicken, rich sauce.  As far as the Soft Shell Crabs (yes, I can catch and clean them too), but I don't like to eat something shel and all so I am not a fan.  However, my dining companion assured me they were excellent, deliciously prepared.  They sure do make for a unusual presentation.  You'll just have to judge for yourself. 
    Here at DebsFood, we look forward to going back to sample some more delicacies from their main menu, dozens of appetizers, burgers, chops, pasta & seafood.  So go on over, then let me know what you think!
 See more of my reviews at      Main Event on Urbanspoon

CLOSED -- Hemisphere Lounge & Restaurant

Oyster Trio, Rock Shrimp and Crab Cakes

     Open since February, and I didn't know?  My readers are not keeping me in the loop!!  [1/15 - in retrospect, I now see why] Hemisphere is part Lounge (Jazzy & Blues) and part Tapas/Gastro-Pub.  Now that's a combination for you and, as it happened to turn out, a combination I loved.  The decor is stunning (I tried to get one of the chandeliers, but they were hand-made blown glass, just for the bar), cozy and warm, but bright enough so you know you are in for a special night.  You can tell that from the cocktail menu that their mixologist has quite a few tricks up his sleeve.  As for the food menu, its a Tapas-lovers delight. These Chefs have got their hand on the button and I'm going to bet that the combination of Chefs Kelly & LeGendre in the kitchen and Hemisphere are about to explode. We've just got to get the word out.  His creativity and desire to please is evident in dishes like Diver Scallops w/ Lemon Foam paired with Fried Pork Belly & Polenta Cakes. Fantastic balance. The Fried Crabcakes, formed into balls and served with a mild horseradish cream remained moist inside. The sliders, were surprisingly one of the best dishes on the menu. Despite the fact that everyone is doing it, not everyone does it well.  Here, we had three incredibly juicy burgers which were actually still pink inside, topped with caramelized onions and melted gruyere cheese on a perfect warm bun. They were over the top delicious. The Lamb Chops served w/ Eggplant Fries were cooked so perfectly they melted in your mouth (the lamb, not the eggplant). The Eggplant Fries were a delightful surprise and completely over-shadowed the fact that there was little in the way of seasoning in the dish. To take a step back, we were treated to an amuse buche of tiny grilled cheese circles with a tomato creme that leave you wanting more. We started with smaller plates of Rock Shrimp (sweet & mild) and a trio of Oysters, each with a different topping. The Jalapeno Mignonette was excellent, however the citrus sorbet froze the oyster so that the taste was overwhelmed. (Not that I would turn down an oyster covered with anything).  Finally, although we were stuffed, we had to try the "Steak Frites," which was a huge Short Rib, perfectly cooked, served with the best potato wedges I've had in ages. Hot & Crispy outside, creamy inside. 

    I was done, and I was a fan, but The Chocolate Trio was an indescribable end to our evening. A picture does not do it justice. A light chocolate mousse, a chocolate cake, over a white chocolate banana jam (which they should sell by the jar), and a banana creme, all encircled by a fried plantain.  It looked as beautiful as it tasted.

    Hemisphere presents us with a unique experience here on the Island.  Perfectly prepared small portions of food that can be eaten late into the night, while you enjoy the bar, the live music and the summer breeze. Thank you Chefs, and our waiter Joe, for all your help and patience with our crazy questions.  We look forward to coming back soon

  • Diver Scallops w/ Lemon Foam, Fried Pork Belly & Polenta Cakes

  • Sliders

  • Lamb with Eggplant Fries

HAVANA CENTRAL, Roosevelt Field, Garden City NY

photo by havanacentral.com

     What's going on at Roosevelt Field?  Its the restaurant mecca of Garden City!      I have to start this review with Energy. There are not a lot of Cuban restaurants on Long Island, but with the opening of Havana Central at Roosevelt Field you will find “Classic Cuban food with the energy, excitement, and entertainment of old Havana.”  That’s how they advertise it, and that is what you get.  As soon as you walk in you know you are in for a party, the décor just what you would expect, with large booths, banquettes and semi-private dining areas partially shaded with drapes; huge ceiling fans, palm-like greenery and authentic party music all make you feel like you are in Cuba  – the wait staff is friendly, the tequila and rum is flowing, the margaritas and mojitos are fantastic.

   We decided to sample a few Tapas, so we could get a taste of a bit of everything.  Top of the list are the empanadas sampler.  There are a few different kinds, all good, but the Cuban Sandwich Empanada is a taste sensation not to be missed!  Pork Taquitos are also excellent, as are the Tostones Rellenos.  We tried the 1/2 Avocado stuffed with a lobster spread, but there was not much lobster to be found.  Similarly, the tamale combo wasn’t much to speak of.  However, the Queso Fundido, on the other hand, was delicious, topped with ropa vieja.  We shared one main course, Ropa Vieja Mofongo, which is best described as Cuban flavored pulled pork over cooked and smashed plantains.  We did not go wrong with that!
    I have to say that I most definitely would go back again.  Even if it was not the best Cuban food I’ve had in my life, the price is right, the service, staff and atmosphere more than make up for a few so/so dishes, and the music makes for a party atmosphere.  Although we were there early, I hear that the dancing gets going after 7! If you go to their website at http://havanacentral.com/events/events-calendar/  you will find out exactly what is going on each night, so go and check it out on night.  Its lots of fun!!   Thanks to our waiter Orozco for the time and patience he took with us, even offering us tastes of different rums, and explaining dishes before we made our choices.  A lovely evening that was way more fun than I expected.  
  • Margaritas, Mojitos.....

  • Fantastic appetizers

  • Don't miss the queso fundido!

THE CAPITAL GRILLE, Roosevelt Field, Garden City, NY

Pan Fried Calamari w Hot Cherry Peppers.

     There is a new steakhouse on the Island my friends, and after my first visit last night I was surprised and happy to discover that The Capital Grille rivals the greatest steakhouses on Long Island and NYC. Surprised because after making the reservation I learned that The Capital Grille was a subsidiary of The Darden Restaurant Group. (The same group that owns Red Lobster, Seasons 52, Olive Garden and more. Now I love Red Lobster as much as the next gal, but its not gourmet). But the menu looked so good I just had to try it. I warned my husband not to expect much, we were just out to relax. Well, relax we did!  From the moment we walked in, to the moment we left, I swear to you this was one of the most pleasant dining experiences we have had in ages.  We were pampered and doted on, every wish anticipated.  (No, I'm not that famous and I do not tell them who I am or what I do when I get there!)
     First, the staff knows what they are doing, everyone from the hostess to the bus boys, the manager Sara and our fantastic waitress Rachael. We walked into a beautifully decorated traditional style steakhouse, updated with elegance. The tables all big enough so you are comfortable and not sitting on top of the party next to you wherever you sit. As first time diners there, we were greeted with complimentary glasses of sparkling wine and strawberries along with their standard bread basket which was filled with a variety of warm breads and crackers that could have been dinner alone. I couldn’t try them all, but the black bread with raisins was out of this world. When I asked where I could find the ladies room, Rachael escorted me there herself!
     But, ok, you want to know about the food. I’m going out of order to talk about the steak first. A dry aged rib eye, seasoned and grilled so perfectly over the fire that my mouth watered just looking at it (and you all know by now I don’t eat steak). I did taste it, a few times to be honest, and I agreed with my husband that it was one of the best steaks he has had, ever. Better than the infamous ... oh, I shouldn’t even say. But suffice it to say the flavor of the beef, pink and warm inside, shone through the delicious crust outside, and he was eating it off the bone when he was done. So, to the appetizers: The Wagyu Beef Carpaccio w/ Wasabi Arugula was a perfect cross between light and delicate & beefy and spicy. Their signature appetizer of Pan Fried Calamari w/ Hot Cherry Peppers was so tender and crispy (but watch out for those cherry peppers, they bite back), it was a treat to have such a flavorful lightly breaded calamari that wasn’t served with tomato sauce! As for me, I couldn’t get past the side dishes, so for my dinner I chose 2 sides: Lobster Mac & Cheese, and Creamed Spinach (to go with the steak also). The creamed spinach was delicious, freshly made and blended with a creamy be’chamel sauce. But the Lobster Mac & Cheese – that was over the top. Not too cheesy, so the substantial amount of lobster was not overwhelmed, but cheesy enough to soak into all the grooves of the curly flowery pasta, then baked with a crispy topping that I couldn’t get enough of.
    Now that you know that every bite I put in my mouth was delicious, I have to mention their award winning wine list, with wines from so many countries and regions that its impossible not to find one you like. There are wine lockers available for those frequent visitors who like to keep a case on hand for their guests and they will, in fact, order a wine for you if they do not have it on their list. Nice. As you know, another very important feature is a clean bathroom and in fact these were. Completely touch-less, everything worked, hand-towels were soft and durable, and there were no stupid gimmicks. Love it.
     We will definitely go back, and I encourage all of my readers to try Capital Grill. Its right in Roosevelt Field, so you can catch a movie or do a bit of shopping also. They have valet parking, so don’t worry about that. More than anything else, the service is beyond reproach. My thanks to Rachael for her extra effort and efficient service. I wish I could have taken her home with me. And to Sara, for her kindness and generosity. You all made us feel extra special for the evening on what would have been an otherwise ordinary Friday night!
The Capital Grille on Urbanspoon

  • Waygu Beef Carpaccio & Wasabi Arugula

  • Grilled Delmonico, and Creamed Spinach

  • Lobster Macaroni & Cheese

May. 31, 2013

Better Than Ever

Upon visiting The Capital Grill a few months later, we were thrilled to see that the quality and service has not wavered, even on a busy night where the restaurant was just about full. We were out for my friend's birthday and after a quick mention of that Rachael & the manager were there with a Champagne Toast, Birthday Confetti and a handwritten Card. Sure made me look good! Their unique spin on fried calamari is hot and spicy, but we managed to finish it; and in my opinion, the lobster & crab cakes w/ corn salsa was fantastic. My dining companion ordered this special double petite filet mignon topped w/ 2 lobster tails. Both the steak and the tails were cooked and seasoned to perfection. As for me, I would go back for the Citrus Glazed Salmon, served with asparagus & caramelized onion was perfect. I have finally found a restaurant that consistently knows what you mean when you say "rare." Thank you to Rachael for the fabulous Happy Birthday dessert, which was delicious and gratis. If you have not been there yet, GO!

  • Filet Mignon & Lobster Tails

  • Citrus Glazed Salmon

  • A very Happy Birthday

Fuego Picante, Hempstead Tpke, East Meadow NY (Mexican/Smokehouse)

Appetizer: Short Rib Nachos

     Just opened this week in the space that used to house the Kansas City Smokehouse, is a welcome surprise offering from the Singh Hospitality Group, called Fuego Picante.  I had a feeling after a few visits to KC Smokehouse that it wouldn't last long, and I was hoping for something to liven up the area.  I was not disappointed.  The renovations were beautiful, most significantly, the installation of a half wall topped with orangy stained glass panels dividing the bar area from the restaurant.  This brightened the restaurant while cutting down the noise from the game crowd - but still allowing you to see the tv's if you wanted to take a peek.  Also loved the faux stained glass shades over the windows to match the panels.  Beautiful job. Tables were well spaced, but they do have room to expand, and I think they will need it. 

     But the food was key and there is a  craze lately of mixing mexican with bbq that doesn't always work.  This one does.  The BBQ Grilled Rib-eye that passed my way on its way to someone else's table made me salivate.  I could tell it was hot and smoky on the outside and pink and juicy on the outside just by looking at it.  But, alas, my husband ordered the ribs. Again, we were not disappointed with a thick juicy rack of ribs that could stand on their rub alone.  Thick and meaty, with a bite, yet still coming right off the bone.  And you had your choice of 2 sauces, along with the mac n cheese (excellent) and mexican corn/tortilla.  We shared an order their specialty nachos as recommended by our waitress and she was right.  The warm chips were covered with shredded short ribs braised in root beer, jalapenos, salsa and a number of other tasty sauces to wake up your senses.  More than enough to share.  I had the Mexi-Shrimp, fire roasted  with tomatillo-chile butter sauce, sweet potato masa cake and sautéed spinach. Excellent combination of flavors. 

    I didn't have room for dessert, but I hear their ice cream is homemade.  I'm definitely going back - I intend to order nothing but appetizers because every one looks delicious, and lots of tequila from their 80 tequila menu.  The staff was knowledgeable and efficient, friendly and helpful. Although I wish Fuego Picante the best of luck in this venture, I don't think they'll need it.  I have a feeling they'll be around long enough to make it into my fav's section.  Meanwhile, I can't wait to come back soon.  (more photos below)

  • Classic Margarita, Tortillas & Salsa

  • Mexi-Shrimp, Corn Cake, Sauteed Spinach

  • Smoked Ribs, Mac & Cheese, Mexican Corn in tortilla shell

The Savoy Tavern, Merrick Ave., Merrick NY

The Savoy's version of Fish & Chips. Perfectly cooked white flaky fish in a light batter with hand cut fries.

   Dinner at The Savoy is no longer an old fashioned cliche'.  We ventured out in the snow tonight for dinner at the new Savoy Tavern on Merrick Ave, just near the train station. Don't miss this one, as you will find all your favorites in one place. Everything from appetizers like the fantastic Chicken Croquettes with a melt in your mouth center and Real Meatballs fried the way mom did & served with a spiced tomato sauce. Continuing on with appetizers, I paired the delicious lump crab cakes with the polenta (as you see in the photo) and created the dinner of my dreams. The crab cakes were packed full of lump crab and the polenta was hot, creamy and simply a sensual delight. I can remember my mom standing over the stove for an hour to make this, and it wasn't this good!   For a main course, you will find everything from the Crispy Batter Dipped Fish & Chips (which we shared and which was cooked perfectly) to a Burger & Fries, Home Style Roasted Chicken or Lobster Fra Diavolo (Fri. night special).  
     But if you go for nothing else - go for the homemade Banana Cream Pie. With its thick but flaky crust and fresh whipped cream, you will feel like a kid again. Thanks to Ryan for your patience and help, efficient service and just going that extra mile to make us feel at home. We'll be back soon!

  • Crab Cakes & Polenta

    A dreamy combination of an appetizer and a side, perfect for dinner.
    I don't have room here for the pic, but don't leave The Savoy without trying the Homemade Banana Cream Pie. Its indescribable.

  • Homemade Meatbals

    This is an Appetizer, there were six before I remembered to take the photo! Excellent, just like mom used to make before the whole calorie thing mattered!!

  • Chicken Croquettes

    Chicken Croquettes. When was the last time you had these? They are not Swanson, that's for sure! These homemade delicacies are light and crunchy outside, delicate and creamy inside. Didn't even need the sauce.

SEASONS 52, Garden City at Roosevelt Field (light American fare)

Seasons 52 Flatbread, photo from Season's website.

      Well, I finally got out to try Seasons 52, over in Roosevelt Field. It had come highly recommended, and their claim to fame is that everything, every single dish, is under 475 calories. Right now they are advertising their new Winter Menu, including Mesquite Grilled Garlic Shrimp, a Winter Vegetarian Tasting, & Grilled Venison Chop. As I was looking at the menu, I was trying to figure out how it could be possible to keep the calories so low - especially when everything looked so good. Ok, flatbreads are easy and there were many to choose from. We ordered an Eggplant Parmesan flatbread to share. That was easy, it was very, very, very thin, the eggplant tasted as if it was baked, and we could not find any cheese on it. Ok, 475 calories down.
For dinner I was torn between the Shrimp Penne and the Scallops & Risotto. Since I'm a sucker for anything with Risotto, my mind was made up. "Mesquite-Grilled Garlic Shrimp Spanish saffron risotto, crispy chorizo, roasted tomato broth." I couldn't wait. It came very artfully arranged, 6 shrimp, surrounding the 1/4 cup of risotto (which I couldn't find at first and no saffron in sight), surrounded by a few tablespoons of broth. That explains that 475 calories! My dining companion ordered one of their Dinner Salads, a "Maple Leaf Farms Sesame Duck chopped greens, apples, mint, cranberries, butternut squash, toasted pecans." It came so beautifully presented and I did not hear a word of complaint out of her when the waitress lifted the glass tube and spread the greens out on her plate. However, I didn't hear any compliments either. The salad did have the unusual taste of the mint and lots of greens. Personally, I couldn't see the duck very well (or the squash & toasted pecans) as the lighting is low, but there was not much of what I saw. That explains that 475 calories.
The best part of dinner for me was the dessert. They bring a tray of about 12 different individual desserts, all made in shot glasses. The peanut butter and chocolate mousse was fantastic. All 4 spoonfulls of it. You could also get pecan pie, cheese cake and a mini raspberry cannoli among numerous other yummy delights. I sure did feel like I had controlled myself admirably when I left, not stuffed or overfed.
The atmosphere is lovely at Seasons 52, cozy booths, fireplaces and warm lighting make up a very sophisticated and very large room, yet you feel as if you are in a small, local neighborhood restaurant. The service is excellent, friendly and knowledgeable, and the food came out quickly, but not rushed. We were able to sit and talk over dessert until we were ready to leave. The price (for us about $35.00 per person, w/ tax and tip) was reasonable. Of course we were not drinking or ordering coffee.
All in all, I was prepared and I did get what I expected. The prices are a little high for some of the items, but others were more than reasonable. If I do end up back there, I will do what I like best, and order lots of appetizers and samples. If you go, let me know what you think!
Now I have to admit, these photos are not my own.  We were hungry and talking, so photo credit is given where appropriate, but I thought you should see some of the food for yourself.
  • Grilled Shrimp - you have to search for the Risotto

  • Filet Mignon

  • Desserts, just one to a customer. About 4 tbsp full.


Lobster Consomme' w/ Ginger/Soy broth, garden vegetables, shrimp and frog leg meat.

    LISTEN UP Friends!!  There is a new restaurant in town and they are hiding a Master chef.  If you only have one chance to dine out before the end of the year you need to go to ROOTS, just opened on Montaulk Highway in Bayshore.  Chef Philippe's take on French Bistro cuisine is innovative and creative - and they are going to have people begging for reservations very soon!  Co-Owners Philippe Corbet and James Orlandi opened Roots less than a month ago with one goal in mind: A restaurant "Rooted in the bistronomic revolution of French cuisine, Roots Bistro Gourmand pays homage to the simplicity of the modest bistro while infusing gastronomic techniques. Our love for cooking is inspired by fresh, close to home ingredients brought to life with global flavors."  That's a lot of fancy nouveau cooking words, but we were there last night and we sampled a Chef's Tasting menu, and a few small plates, and I only have one word: INCREDIBLE.  Call it what you will, but there is true talent in the kitchen at Roots.

     Lets start at the beginning, when we walked into a charming French bistro-like bar/dining area and quickly shown to our table.  The staff was efficient and warm, and the atmosphere was casual and comfortable, giving no hint of the elegant and sophisticated food to come. The menu offers everything from the appetizer special of the evening which was escargot (served atop a puff-pastry on a base of red pepper coulis and topped with a creamy beurre blanc) to classic French Frites, Boullibaise, or a Bistro Burger.  This is what I can tell you personally about our various samplings.  First, the escargot were creamy and tender, simply sensuous.  I also had the soup which for that night was a Lobster consomme' with ginger/soy and assorted fresh garden vegetables, frog leg meat and grilled shrimp.  Unbelievable.  The appetizer salad for the evening was a mixture of fresh thinly slices zucchini, marinated beets, watermelon & micro-greens on a base of drunken goat cheese (and something more which was delicious but I can't remember) all atop that famous puff pastry base.  By this point, I knew we were in for a very special night.

     You need to take a breath here, because there is so much more.  The tasting menu next include a plate of fresh homemade ravioli stuffed with a sweet pea filling, topped with chunks of tender lobster meat and an oh-so-light creamy sauce.  This was so fresh and light you could barely believe it was ravioli, and we ended up both trying to eat the last one!  **and note from the photos, these were not tiny tasting plates.  Next on the tasting menu was Seared Fois Gras with roasted figs and a pear reduction which my husband loved, so I tried it.  Many of you know I don't eat liver and I generally don't like Fois Gras despite its fame.  Well, OMG, this was absolutely, the best, most silky tender bite of any piece of meat/organ meat I have ever eaten, anywhere.  And I have eaten Fois Gras in many a fine restaurant.  I was sorry it wasn't my plate.  Thank you Chef Philippe for finally making Fois Gras the right way.

     I need to get you the rest of this review before I get in the car and go back there.  The tasting menu seemed never ending.  There was next a grilled ground veal (or lamb, I can't recall) sausage filled with veggies, over a creamy polenta, smoked and served in a plate with smoke and all -- which was to die for.  Then, the piece de resistance, a seared Rib-eye, with a rich crust (they must have wood in that kitchen) and a perfectly red rare inside.  Now, are you ready? Served with a delicate black truffle wild mushroom sauce.  Who does that?  Its genius.  The contrast in flavors in this dish, and throughout the meal were perfectly matched and we did not leave a bit of anything.  I'm not a meat eater, I'm not a liver eater, I don't eat beets.  I am converted.  My entree of the appetizer size pressed suckling pig was similarly unbelievable, with a crispy skin that melts in your mouth and meat that was fall-apart tender, not to mention the accompanying perfectly cooked baby vegetables.  Oh - and don't forget the risotto balls!!!  I thought that was an Italian thing, but I like them in French too.

     Last but not least, a very special dessert of Creme Fraiche' Ice Cream (made in-house) over a strawberry sauce of some kind and this unbelievable whipped cream.  I was fighting for that.  Along with a raspberry napoleon, also baked in-house, which my husband devoured.  Even the coffee was excellent.  The food at Roots is exciting, ambitious and original.  They have, in fact, been able to create a modern twist to elegant French cuisine and serve it in a casual and fun atmosphere.  So enjoy my photos, then get in the car and get there fast.  Tell them Deb sent you!!!

  • Salad of Marinated Beets, Zucchini, Watermelon & Micro Greens, atop a bed of Drunken Goat Cheese and assorted other delicacies, over a homemade puff pastry.

  • Using that puff pastry to showcase succulent escargot & a roasted red pepper and/or tomato coulis, topped with a perfect buerre blanc.

  • Pan Seared Fois Gras, with roasted fig and pear, and a pear reduction sauce.

  • Oeuf: poached egg creamy polenta, jambon bayonne, parmesan-mascarpone emulsion & aged gouda

  • Pressed Suckling Pig, Crispy Skin, with caramelized hearts of palm, baby carrots and caraway-lavendar-honey & spring onion compote.

  • Olive Oil Poached Sea Bass, Broccoli Rabe, & Crispy Pork Belly

Oct. 3, 2012

Roots Continues to Impress

On a recent visit to Roots we tried some different dishes: As you can see above, an appetizer Oeuf: poached egg creamy polenta, jambon bayonne, parmesan-mascarpone emulsion & aged gouda, which was indulgent and perfectly prepared; and the Special for the evening, a Oil Poached Sea Bass, w/ Sauteed Broccoli Rabe and Crispy Bacon. Fantastic!!

Nov. 16, 2012

Roots Extends Restaurant Week Prix Fixe

Thanks to the generosity of Chefs James and Phillipe of Roots Bistro in Bayshore, their extensive $25.00 prix fixe menu was extended until 11/18 to accommodate those affected by the storm and storm damage. As usual, they outdid themselves with specialties like Birkshire Pork Belly and a decadent Cassoulet. It's always a treat to sample theit delights. Oh, and the live band last night was wonderful!

JEWELL, Rte. 110, Melville

Jewel's Catfish atop layers of spinach, hash brown potatoes & bacon, surrounded by Mustard Cream Sauce.

     JEWEL, The restaurant looks just like its name (and just as pricey). Its absolutely stunning inside, with jewel colored glass balls hanging from the ceiling, comfortable booths, glass floors in the bar area, and a funky lighting arrangement that you have to see for yourself. 
     So, you want to know something about the food. Everything we had was cooked perfectly, as is usually true with any Tom Schaudel restaurant. The lobster bisque, poured at the table, was excellent with a hint of sherry in the background. The rib-eye steak (with your choice of steak) was cooked perfectly - crusted over a coal grill and medium rare on the inside. I had the catfish over spinach, over a mountain of hash brown potatoes and bacon, surrounded with a mustard cream sauce (pictured below). Mouth-watering.
     Dessert, a mocha cheesecake round, on a coffee bottom with a Kaluah whipped cream, topped with a chocolate covered coffee bean. 
This is a beautiful restaurant, the decor is worth seeing once, the bar scene was jumping, and the food was perfect. Oh, and dont forget to check out the bathrooms. The lady's room is elegant, but I hear the men's room is quite a sight. However, in my opinion, it is far too overpriced for what you are getting. Unlike Blackstones, I left feeling that is was not worth the money and I was paying for the beautiful decor. Definitely only a special occasion place for us mortals.