TAPAS, OR "SMALL PLATES" HAVE BECOME ALL THE RAGE. HERE, WE WILL TELL YOU WHY:

  • The octopus and potato skewers were topped with a mix of seasonings that provided just the right acididity. The octopus was so tender you could cut it with a a fork.

  • The homemade pastry wrapped around the empanadas, stuffed with mushrooms, potato & bacon was flaky and fresh. The mini meatbals were delicious, as you can see because half of them are gone.

  • The creamy polenta with truffled mushrooms may have been one of the best dishes in the house. Soft and sensuous. Pure delight

     TAPAS** RESTAURANTS SPECIALIZE IN SMALL DISHES DESIGNED TO SHARE BETWEEN TWO OR MORE PEOPLE, THE MORE THE BETTER.  IN THIS WAY, YOU GET TO SAMPLE THE WHOLE OF WHAT THE RESTAURANT HAS TO OFFER.  WE'VE BEEN LACKING IN GOOD TAPAS ON LONG ISLAND UNTIL CAFE BUENOS AIRES OPENED A FEW YEARS AGO, AND NOW WE HAVE THE PHOENIX.  WE ARE GOING TO SEARCH OUT THE REST FOR YOU AND POST THEM HERE, BECAUSE THIS MAKES FOR A FUN EVENING OF FOOD, WINE OR BEER TASTINGS AND GREAT CONVERSATION.      

**Tapas are defined a wide variety of appetizers , or snacks , in Spanish cuisine . They may be cold (such as mixed olives and cheese ) or warm (such as chopitos , which are battered , fried baby squid, or empanadas ). In select bars in Spain, tapas have evolved into an entire, and sometimes sophisticated, cuisine. In Spain, patrons of tapas can order many different tapas and combine them to make a full meal. In some Central American countries, such snacks are known as bocas.  The serving of tapas is designed to encourage conversation because people are not so focused upon eating an entire meal that is set before them. Also, in some countries it is customary for diners to stand and move about while eating tapas.  Here, I'm guessing we like to sit around and relax!
(Thank you Wikipidia for this info)

     ***NOW KEEP IN MIND, I FIRMLY BELIEVE YOU CAN TURN ANY RESTAURANT INTO A TAPAS RESTAURANT.  THE APPETIZERS ARE USUALLY THE BEST THING ON THE MENU ANYWAY, SO ORDER A FEW EACH, SKIP THE MAIN COURSE, AND SAVE ROOM FOR A DESSERT OR TWO TO SHARE!  THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO HAVE FUN!!

E.A.T.S. SOCIAL HOUSE, Carmans Rd., Massapequa, across from Westfield Sunrise Mall:

E.A.T.S. Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs; Crabcakes & Salsa

     Specializing in American Tapas, at the bar, in cozy booths, or at airy tables in an open space, E.A.T.S also serves up New American Cusine, including: a large variety of entree sized Salads; reasonably priced ($10.00) Burgers w Fries; a large selection of Pasta dishes, and full entrees from Tomatoes stuffed with Crabmeat and Pineapple to Seared Tuna over Rice w Fried Zucchini or, if you're in the mood, 18 oz Porterhouse Steak with rice and glazed carrots.

     If you're looking for a deal, Thursdays is Pasta night. Buy one Entree, get a second of equal or lesser value free. (More $$ for one of their fantastic drink specials!). Every Sunday and Wednesday is Burger and Beer Night. One burger and fries dinner and one beer, for $10.00! Now that's a deal!!! They have live music on Fridays - and check their website for more special events over the summer.

     Now, my opinion w/ pics: First, Tapas orders of the Calamari and Fried Zucchini. Warning: both of these are large, almost dinner sized portions. Appetizers enough for four, and both were so excellent it was hard to stop eating them. The Calamari was crispy outside, soft and tender inside, not chewy and not greasy. The Zucchini was likewise served piping hot, crispy crust and fresh inside. Best ever. Next, a Burger and Fries for Hubby, and an array of Tapas to share: Tuna Tartare; Baked Clams; Crab Cakes & Stuffed Meatballs. I was thinking Tapas, and "tapas" means "small plates." Seems the Chef forgot that concept! Most things were very good, nothing was bad, some things were Fantastic and worth going back for.
1. I was dreaming of the Calamari.
2. The Tuna was amazing, fresh, perfectly lightly seasoned, diced but not minced and served from Japanese spoons along with fresh endive leaves to eat along with the tuna. Be careful tho', that wasabi is hot!
3. The Crabcakes were...well..., lots of crab. All crab. Light and crispy on the outside and served over a bright tasting, savory and fruity salsa. Wonderful combination.
4. The Baked Clams were made the way they should be: whole Little Neck clams. topped with well seasoned toasted bread crumbs, lots of garlic.
So, the only things left are the meatballs and burger. My husband devoured the burger, but I managed a bite. It was cooked exactly as ordered, and the flavor of the beef was good, but the meat was very, very lean and I would have ordered it rare. The meatballs has the same issue - the meat was almost too lean. However, they were huge, and tender, and when you cut them open, fresh hot mozzarella oozed out. The sauce and mozzarella covering them and the plate resolved any issues.
     If E.A.T.S suffers from any one problem, it's under-salting the food. Yet, with all the salt issues these days, it's better to err on the side of caution - and they do put salt and pepper on the table. The service is friendly and fast, even tho' they may get short-staffed. Don't be put off by the reviews that advise the Tapas is expensive. It's higher priced than some, but you should order half as much. We were full after the first two!
     My recommendation: Get there soon because its still a bit quiet. I have a feeling when word gets around, it won't be so easy to get in on Thursday nights. They are conviently located just off Sunrise Highway on Carman's Road in Massapequa, across from the rear entrance to the Mall. See ya' there!!

  • Burger, w BLT, & Hand Cut Fries.

  • Perfectly Prepared Calamari

  • Zucchini, Crisp outside, tender & juicy inside

  • Tuna Tartare, Wasabi & Endive

  • Whole Baked Clams

  • Info for E.A.T.S. Social House

Salumi Tapas and Wine Bar, Merrick Rd, E. Massapequa (Tapas)

    Well, finally.  Salumi had been getting such rave reviews, I just had to find out for myself.  And at first glance Salumi is inviting, friendly, and and is filled with tables where you can sit and enjoy your food without being aftraid you will knock something off the table. The wine list by the bottle is extensive, but by the glass - not so great.  They will however open a bottle and charge you by the glass for 2 or more people.  That's acommodating.

     They have a fine meat and cheese board selection, which we skipped to get to the hot food and started with an order of this country bread and mozzarella burrata (one of my favorite things) which did not disappoint.  It was ceamy and flavorful, served atop baby greens and a light vinaigrette, with sweet onions and fig - an absolute delight, rich and creamy inside, but a real mozzarella shell outside.  This was my favorite dish of the night. 

   Oh, I cant forget to tell you about the bocadillo sandwich, porkbelly, with kimchim, lime and mayonnaise.  Not one of my favorite dishes but still delicious and a wonderful play on flavors.  I want to tell you more, but I've saved it for the photos below.  Meanwhile, the staff was knowledgeable and efficient, the restaurant was spacacious and comfortable and the decor neat and casual - like you walked into the back of and Italian restaurant.  I imagine they get more crowded in the later evening.  But when we went, the service excelled.  We are definitely going back. 

Cafe Buenos Aires, Argentnian BBQ & Tapas, Huntington, NY

At Cafe Buenos Aires, you cannot go wrong. This Argentinian restaurant has something for everyone, and if you cannot decide on one of their famous entrees - like the delicious Paella - withe seafood, pork, chicken and chorizo, or the Parrillada Mixta (Meat Grill) which is a combination of sweet sausang, skirt steak, chicken, sweet breads, short ribs and black sausage, served with vegetables and mashed potatoes, I strongly suggest turning to the Tapas Menu. I believe its the best one around. The Tapas includes about 20 different selections of hot and cold small plates including: a mini fondue served with pork beef and chorizo, empanadas (of course), clams, potato pie, mini paella, tripe and pork stew, grilled provolone cheese, sauteed shrimp and garlic, tortilla and egg frittata, fried calamari, octupus, meatballs, mussles, oysters, potato dumpling, and so much more. The small plates range from $3.00 to $14.00, averaging about $10.00. If you're going with a group, this is a great idea. It was even a great idea with 2 people!
I confess that with Huntington fast becoming the restaurant mecca of Long Island, this is probable one of my favorites. We have been there many times. The Sangria (White or Red, by the glass or pitcher) is excellent, as is the wine list, the staff is friendly and upbeat, the owners friendly, and if you catch it at the right time, you will get the floor show of Argentinian Dancers. Try it, you'll love it too!

The Phoenix, Merrick Rd., Seaford NY

So, the Phoenix has risen in Seaford, and we are Thankful. W e just happened to driving along Merrick Road and this very unusual place caught our eye. In the spot where the old Pomodorino used to be there was now an all gray building, with no other adornments but for a giant red Phoenix. The Phoenix. I just had to look it up and find out what it was. As it turns out, it is a Tapas restaurant - right here on the South Shore!
Here is a link to their menus, including the core menu and the Tapas Menu!!
www.thephoenix.com .If you are looking for something new and creative, new American food with a bit of flair, in a casual atmosphere, you must try the Phoenix, open every day, Noon to 2am, and a hot bar scene late. The chef is so talented that when I tasted the sautee’d liver with bacon, and onion jam, I couldn’t believe my taste buds. I hate liver. I ate this liver, I loved this bacon onion jam. Their chef is a genius.

Ok, let me tell you how they work. Phoenix always has a core menu of gourmet sandwiches (fresh tuna & herbed aioli, roasted pork, broccoli rabe, provolone & pork gravy, beef short rib with blue cheese, cherry peppers & horseradish cream, and of course, angry shrimp with pickled cucumber & creole bacon mustard. There are also 3 salads that are sufficient to be a light meal, and 3 soups, which I would pair with the salad for a meal. Or try on of their slates of cured gourmet meats and cheeses or create your own from extensive list.
But, enough of that, because what you are really going for is the Tapas (small plates) Menu, which changes periodically. If the photo below doesn’t get you, listen to what I tasted besides the liver: Cheese Ravioli w/ melted leeks, toasted pumpkin seeds and butternut squash burre blanc (dreamy, perfect sauce); fried green tomatoes w/ herbed marscapone and ranch; Filet Mignon w/ roasted mushrooms, drizzle of cheese fondue on a garlic crostini (delicious tender beef, mushrooms roasted perfectly); Roasted Duck leg with orange apricot glaze (omg delicious, fall off the bone, maybe the best thing on the menu); mussels in beer broth, shallots & fresh herbs (flavored nicely, but a bit salty); Shrimp, Andouille Sausage, creole gravy over cheddar grits (creamy and savory grits, tender jumbo shrimp, maybe the best thing on the menu. Oh, did I say that already? There may be at least another 10 or 15 choices on the menu of small plates thoose from.
But, if you must, there is a small menu of dinner size dishes, like Fried Chicken & Waffles: Strip Steak & potato hash w/ bernaise sauce; pork tenderloin w/ potato coins and peach & plum chutney and Crusted Tuna w/ soy lime risotto.
One more word, about the desserts. The layered mousse with chocolate, peanut butter and raspberry sauce was better than good, it was a work of art. BUT, order the Fried Bread Pudding with banana caramel and cinnamon crème anglaise. Its not your ordinary bread pudding, I promise. I never had anything like it. Take one bite and you may think you’ve died and gone to heaven. Really, go to The Phoenix just for this.
Out of the 9 or so dishes we tasted, maybe 1 or 2 weren’t as good as we hoped, but they weren't bad either and we finished them all! There is still so much more to taste. The Phoenix is food fun and I look forward to going back next week. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and the atmosphere relaxed. Go, take a few people with you and share.
     6/19, ok, yes, I was there again.  You must try the Spiced Peanut Soup. Unbelievable!  So are the short-ribs over ribbon pasta!
 

Vinoco Wine Bar & Tapas Restaurant

Well, this sure looks wonderful. Tapas Shooters - they were as wonderful as they look! The Vinoco Special Skewer Sampler includes five of the following: Marinated Chicken Skewer;
Black Olive Aioli Vinoco special Curry Shooter; 24 Hours Marinated Steak; Drunken Lump Crab Cake; Creamy Onion & Chive Potato Shooter; Spicy Piña Colada Shooter; Thanksgiving Turkey w/Crispy Bacon
Creamy Butternut Squash Shooter.

VINOCO takes you on a journey to a place inspired by traditional tapas restaurants around the world.  VINOCOS's menu is a fusion of Spanish, Italian, Greek, Pan-Asian and Latin American cuisine with a focus on food presentation, texture and flavors all working in harmony.

     The atmosphere is casual and comfortable, but the food is the quality of any top Manhattan restaurant.  The specials tonight included a rock shrimp quesadilla with caramelized onions so sweet they were almost sugary, and the Duck Confit in a homemade cornbread tortilla.  We also couldn't resist the taquitos of marinated hangar steak, so tender and flavorful, with roasted peppers.  And for dessert, deep fried oreos, dusted with powdered sugar and a drizzle of chocolate sauce and raspberry coulis. Unbelievable.   [Phoenix, you may have something to live up to here]

     Oh, don't forget to check for their daily specials on their website, along with the 2 Course Dinner for $10.95!  1st Courst: Soup, Salad, App or Empanada; 2nd Course: Any of their luscious sandwiches, mac & cheese or chicken & chorizo taparella. This and one of their fabulous sangrias would be perfect - if you weren't like me and needed to try everything on the menu.

     And I can honestly say that there was nothing I didn't like.  The shrimp quesadilla was not my favorite, but it was expertly prepared.  The steak shooter was ok, but I really don't like steak.  And I'm going back to try the meatballs. 

     Good Luck Vinoco.  We hope you are around for a long time.  (Take a look below for a sampling of the rest of our dinner) or check out their website at www.vinocony.com.

Caffe' Barocco, Garden City So, NY

OMG. this is not what our food looked like. Caffe Barocco boats "Tapas originated in Spain, a style of dining that showcases the chef's creativity in taste
and presentation. The small portions gives you the ability to indulge in a variety of dishes
as opposed to just one." Ha, not there it doesn't!






     They bill Caffe Barocco this as a "sister restaurant" to La Bottega.  In fact, it was wedged into the store-fornt next door.  We had come upon it looking for additioal Tapas Restaurants to share with you.  Seems small bites, plates, and mini-desserts are the thing right now, a bit of a craze for Tapas.  [When I get a mini drink, I'm outta there!!]  (if you are a real tapas fan, skip to the next review)

    Ok, enough of that.  We were sold on Barroco when we read the on-line menu from their own website.  That wolud be www.cafebarroco.com.  It looked wonderful,  including Vegetali (marinated mushrooms, vegetble spring rolls and antipasti vegetali), Spiedini (prosciutto wrapped shrimp, salmon skewers, etc, served with dipping sues) Pasta (all sorts like bolognese, tortellini w/ walnut honey cream, tortellini w/ bacon, sausacge andeas in a cream saue, Gnocchi & mushrooms and 4 different ravoli), Polenta6 (6 kinds with different saces including shrimp& white wine), Pesce (with 5 different fish, incusing the Portugese Octopus that my husband came or) and Carne  of 5 different types, a total 29 different selections.

     Now I knew we were in trouble when the bigger sign said "La Bottega." The Caffe' Barocco was next door and when you walked in you were met with a gelato counter. We should have had that and left.  The gelato server directs you to seat your self, (not to difficult in a restaurant with 15 tables and only 2 other diners).  No wonder they don't take reservations.  Why bother?  But, sit we do, and the tables are not big enough to hold the water glasses and read the menu at the same time.  Imagine our surprise when the Tapas that we had come for was completely different, and not in  good way.  All the interesting items were gone, and pared down menu was only about 14 items long.  If that wasn't bad enough, the food was even more of a dissappointment. The brusetta was ok, the crepe lacked any flavor whatsoever and the doughy-ness of the crepe overwhelmed the dish, the fried polenta with wild boar sausage wrapped with prosciutto (well the sausage was good) and the creamy polenta with mushroom sauce (2 individual dishes) tasted essentially the same.  The polenta was not creamy or tastful.  They shouldn't tasted or looked the same because one was to have been fried and one was to have been  creamy. The risotto (with pan seared scallops) had no flavor whatsoever (I don't think they use salt or pepper there, especially on the risotto), and the "scallops" were one scallop, cut in half crosswise and overcooked. The panini we finished with, was acceptable, but it obviously came from the La Bodega next door.  We couldn't wait to leave and I, yes me, passed up the gelato bar, just because I wanted to go home! 

    Worst of all, the waiter never once inquired abour our meal, never offered additional napkins when you are eating finger food, never once offered fresh ground pepper, and knew nothing about the menu when we asked about the apparent changes.  All in all a very poor experience and we don't reccommend it.  It was so bad I didn't even take a photo.  I'll look for a stock one.   Oh, and beware, no bar. Only beer and wine. 

  • Fish Tacos, with an herbed sour cream sauce

    Bin 56, Tapas Menu

  • Canocos, flatbread w/ corn, salumi, cheese & serrano ham.

    Bin 56, Tapas Menu

  • Catonas with thick sliced manchego & ham. Fried Yucca & Chorizo

    Bin 56, Tapas Menu

BIN 56, Huntington NY (TAPAS)

Ceviche

     Sometimes you need more than one picture to tell a thousand words. In this case, see photos above and along side this review.  Last night we went to BIN 56 in Huntington, run by the owners of Cafe Buenos Aires, the Brasseri Cassis & Bistro Citron (and more in NYC).  We should have known, because the RestStar Restaurant group knows their stuff.  So, as you can imagine, my expectations were high.  I was not disappointed.

     It was early when we walked into the empty restaurant, a small storefront hidden away on Stewart Street at the top of the shopping areas of Huntington.  We were so early it was a few minutes before they opened.  Regardless, we were welcomed in and asked to pick a table.  Anywhere we wanted - from the comfy cozy sofas to the family style bars.  We were greeted and served by a lovely gentleman who seemed to be doing everything, but the cooking.  (The kitchen staff was working hard in the kitchen so everything came out timely and perfectly.  Just imagine if it was 98 degrees outside, how hot it was in that kitchen!)  Nevertheless, as the dishes came out, each was described by our host and placed down with a smile.  He knew we were going to love it.

    And, as for the pictures (above) you can see that the food was splendid.  In fact there were a few things (like the braised short rib sover sweet potato mash) that were so delicious and melt-in-your mouth delicious, we ate them too fast to even take a photo for you!  The ceviche was so light and heavenly, just the right amount of citrus without being overpowering to the fish, and served with fried banana wedges on top.  The fish tacos were splendid, lightly fried, topped with a mix of sweet and sour pickled vegetables, and a sauce with touch of spicy-ness.  And best of all, them came in little taco holders, so they didn't fall apart!  Why don't all restaurants do that?  The pistachio Gelato was the perfect light ending to this meal and, as all the dishes, served efficiently and kindly.   

     This is the place to go when you want a quite early meal, since we got the whole place to ourselves, but definitely got the feeling they were going to be busy later.  The late dinner, after dinner and after-movie crowd would find this the perfect place, and they're open until 2am.  Its a great spot to stop in for a drink and a snack, the daily specials of both wine and tapas were extraordinary, and the service was excellent.  RestStar knows how to run a restaurant and, as of yet, they have not gotten too proud to accommodate their customers. 

Sangre de Uva, 65 N. Village Ave., Rockville Centre

Sangre de Uva's Mixed Grill of Croquettes and Empanadas.

     We had high hopes for this Spanish/Portugese restaurant in Rockville Centre.  As always, we arrived early and were met by a very friendly, personable and accomodating staff, and seated at a table that was actually big enough for two! (I know these restaurants need to get in as many tables as possible, but why would you go back if all your silverware is on the floor?)  Here, there was room to eat and drink, and the Portugese beer was excellent.  So that was a good start.

     We ordered an assortment of tapas, including the mixed plates of croquettes (The shrimp was wonderful and flavorful. The ground beef was seasoned just right. The chicken was not seasoned) and empanadas (The beef and chicken, each in a different pastry crust, were excellent, the quesadilla was...just cheese).  I was looking forward to the shrimp in green sauce, which is usually my favorite, but this one was a little too lemony - although the shrimp were cooked perfectly.  The fried yucca was also a delight, expertly cooked, not stringy, with a crispy outside and a melty soft inside.  The the fried calamari was nothing special, a bit chewy, but the dipping sauce was wonderfully spiced.  Their special half roast chicken (more like a little hen) was very good, the chef's special spicy creamy vinegar sauce a nice compliment to the crispy skin.  But you need to like tangy to like that one. 

    Overall, I think we would go back to Sangre de Uva, mostly because the staff was so nice and the experience so relaxing and pleasant, and there are so many more menu items to try.  They have a list of Chef's Specials and a full menu, including personal pizzas, which we were too full to try.  They also have an excellent selection of Spanish and Porgugese wines, and a full bar.  They only opened in February of this year, and I believe they need a bit of time to get their house in order - but they're almost there!  So, if you're in the neighborhood, give 'em a chance, and give it a try. 

More Tapas coming soon....

Now, don't fret, we are still working our way trough the Tapas on Long Island. We have yet to get to Espana Tapas & Wine Bar (mediterranean) St. James; and of course,Cedar Creek in Glen Cove, Lola in Great Neck. And so much more. We may run out of money before we run out of tapas!

So keep an eye out for more reviews in this section.