Adam Brownstein


10 Places to Celebrate Mardi Gras on Long Island This Fat Tuesday

Mardi Gras isn’t just limited to New Orleans. Long Island is home to numerous restaurants and venues hosting their own special Fat Tuesday celebrations on Feb. 25.

From Cajun-style food to jazz-fueled atmospheres, these are some of the restaurants that bring the fun of New Orleans to LI. 

Bayou Jones
153 Merrick Ave., Merrick, 516-378-7177, bayoujones.com
This Southern Kitchen and Bar is celebrating Fat Tuesday in style with free Mardi Gra related giveaways and live music from Long Island’s own Roy Wilson and The Buzzards. To get your stomach into the Louisiana spirit, Bayou Jones has an array of Louisiana-styled dishes like jambalaya, blackened catfish tacos, alligator skewers, gumbo, and crawfish diablo. As a Fat Tuesday special, Bayou Jones’s dining room is offering a three-course meal at the fixed prices of $50 from 5-6 p.m. and $55 at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Big Daddy’s
1 Park Lane, Massapequa, 516-799-8887, bigdaddysny.com
Big Daddy’s offers a week-long celebration of Fat Tuesday starting on Feb. 19 that is filled with live music, live crawfish boils, and 2-for-1 Oyster Shooters. This all leads up to their big party, that’ll include a classic New Orleans Style Buffet and live music from The Kings Cobras. Some of the Louisiana style cooking that Big Daddy’s has to offer are Baton Rouge Broiled Oysters, Cajun Burger, Big Easy Fried Chicken, and Habanero Goat Cheese Grits.

Biscuits and Barbeque
106 East 2nd St., Mineola, 516-493-9797, biscuitsandbarbeque.com
This trailer converted into a diner-style restaurant gives a lively atmosphere that’ll surely liven up anyone’s Mardi Gras. Biscuits and Barbeque, which was featured in a 2018 episode of the Emmy Award winning show Marvelous Ms. Maisel, offers can’t miss dishes like the alligator sausage, the brisket, the smoked barbecued half chicken, the mac ‘n cheese, and their big portion of biscuits and gravy. Leave credit cards at home as this is a cash-only establishment, but make sure to bring a mighty appetite.

Blackbirds Grille
553 Old Montauk Hwy., Sayville, 631-593-4144, blackbirdsgrille.com
Let the good times roll at the Blackbirds Grille and enjoy their Mardi Gras specials. From Friday Feb. 21 until Feb. 25, start the meal off right with any of their delectable appetizers of alligator sausage bao, crawfish etouffee, charbroiled oysters, or andouille and crab cheesecake. Then feast upon an entree of bacon-wrapped chicken breast, pecan-breaded catfish, Cajun shrimp and grits, or blackened Delmonico.

Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras Pub Crawl
Begins at The Penny Pub, 79 W Main S.t, Bay Shore, @bayshorerestaurantcommittee
The Bay Shore Restaurant Committee will be holding its first annual Mardi Gras Pub Crawl. For $10, participants will get beads and a bracelet that’s good for food and drink specials at any of the participating stops along the crawl. Some of the businesses participating in the bar crawl include; Penny Pub, Corks & Taps, Changing Times, T.J. Finleys, and The Tap Room. Some of the establishments participating will also have live music to help give the night a New Orleans-esque atmosphere. The fun begins by registering at The Penny Pub at 5 p.m. on Mardi Gras.

134 Main St., Cold Spring Harbor, 631- 367-6060, grassosrestaurant.com
Searching for a friendly place with food and live music to celebrate Mardi Gras? Look no further than Grasso’s, a place that visitors have called the “Cheers of Cold Spring Harbor.” Patrons can enjoy a meal off of Grasso’s Mardi Gras special menu made by executive chef Tony Canales, as they enjoy blues music performed by the band Back on Bourbon Street. By the end of this relaxing night, it’ll surely feel like Grasso’s is a place “where everyone knows your name.”

Louisiana Joe’s Sandwich Shop
488 Merrick Rd., Oceanside, 516-442-9838, louisianajoes.com
Wake up with the delicious taste of New Orleans-inspired cooking by coming to this casual eatery. Open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Louisiana Joe’s serves mouthwashing traditional foods like Po-boys, Gumbos, and Jambalaya for lunch, and savory platters and sandwiches for breakfast. Coming and trying one of the breakfast sandwiches like the “The Rising Sun” which is made of two fried eggs, crumbled chorizo, cheese and bayou sauce on a toasted kaiser roll, will surely help Mardi Gras start on a high note.

Mara’s Southern Kitchen
236 West Jericho Tpke., Syosset, 516-554-5510, marasouthernkitchen.com
Mara’s Southern Kitchen is a Southern, barbecue, and Cajun restaurant offering free beads, $5 hurricanes, and $7 monsoons as part of their Mardi Gras celebration, but the big draw is definitely their food. Mara serves fresh oysters, crawfish, crabs and shrimp that are flown in from the Louisiana Gulf and are made for order. Some menu highlights are the blackened redfish, catfish New Orleans, which is a sautéed catfish fillet glazed with crawfish etouffee, and gator bites made from Louisiana alligators. Make sure to save room for a dessert of Bluegrass pie, banana butterscotch rye pie, strawberry jalapeno ice cream, or chocolate scotch ice cream.

Po’Boy Brewery
200 Wilson St., Port Jefferson Station, 631-828-1131, poboybrewery.com
Wear a Mardi Gras mask or outfit and enjoy a refreshing beer while listening to jazz music. Po’Boy Brewery will be pairing up with The Mobile Munchiez food truck to offer festive foods, like jambalaya, po’boys and empanadas. To add even more fun to the festivities, the brewery is also offering a deal where for $12 patrons can get a pint and a do-it-yourself Voodoo doll kit. Seating is limited so it is advised to get tickets in advance.

Treme Blues and Jazz Club
53 Main St., Islip. 631-277-2008, tremeislip.com
One of the few jazz clubs on Long Island, Treme Blues and Jazz Club will get visitors to dance the night away with live music and drinks. Slap Yo Mama Jazz Brigade will be back to play sweet jazz once again. Although Treme is a music venue, its menu features New Orleans-style cocktails such as hurricane, vieux carre, sazerac, and roffignac. 

Nassau Holds Hearing on NY Bail Reform

Nassau County NIFA
The Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola has a statue of TR standing out front.

New York State’s controversial bail reform is putting public safety at risk and increasing costs to municipalities, according to critics who testified Thursday at a Nassau County Legislature hearing on the topic.

Nassau’s Republican-led legislature held the hearing just as Democratic majority state lawmakers in Albany were reportedly negotiating amendments to the law that eliminated cash bail for a long list of misdemeanors and felonies when it went into effect Jan. 1.

“Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and because of this law, we will be grieving the loss of an incredible young man, when we should be celebrating the engagement of one of the most incredible partnerships I’ve ever seen,” said Victor Maldonado, father of 27-year-old Jonathon Flores-Maldonado, who was killed in Suffolk on Jan. 12 by an alleged drunken driver released without bail following an arrest for tampering with a court-ordered ignition interlock device. “We believe he was saving money for an engagement to propose.”  

Holding back tears, Maldonado pleaded for Nassau lawmakers to help convince state lawmakers to change the law. 

The proposal that state lawmakers are reportedly considering would again reform cash bail — correcting the disparity in which wealthy defendants are free pending their trails while poor defendants who can’t afford bail remain jailed while they fight their charges — and restore judicial discretion in deciding which defendants are held.

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder testified at the hearing that crime is up for the first month of the year compared to last year. Ryder recently came under fire when he suggested that a witness who was recently murdered before he could testify in an MS-13 trial was killed as a result of a provision in bail reform that speeds up the discovery process in which prosecutors share with defense attorneys the identities of witnesses. Defense attorneys maintain that they did not share the witness’ name with their clients and blasted the commissioner for accusing the attorneys of enabling the murder.

Assistant Nassau County District Attorney Jed Painter, another critic of the bail reform, said witness protection requests between Jan. 1 and Feb. 12 were double the amount of requests that Nassau prosecutors received in all of 2019. 

And in the Village of Freeport, Mayor Robert Kennedy said the village board had to raise taxes to fund complying with bail reform. 

“We have to look at the worst case scenario, and worst case scenario to me is $2.7 million,” he said. “We’ve increased taxes by 5.7 percent this year in this budget and it’s directly attributed to this discovery reform.”  

Legislator Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), the Democratic minority leader of the county legislature, accused Republicans of using the issue to try to score cheap political points, noting that Albany passed bail reform, not Nassau.

“No Democrat or Republican in this legislature had anything to do with this law, but today we find ourselves holding a hearing, which starts with the premise of calling on the county executive to denounce the law,” Abrahams said, noting that Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has already joined calls for Albany to fix bail reform. “To me this is just you trying to link her to something you gain a political advantage on.”    

-With Timothy Bolger

211 Long Island Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary on 2/11

The United Way of Long Island celebrated the 10th anniversary of the 2-1-1 hotline on Feb. 11, 2020 at the Bethpage Federal Credit Union in Central Islip. Long Island Press photo.

The nonprofit United Way of Long Island celebrated the 10th anniversary of the launched of its popular 2-1-1 hotline on Tuesday, Feb. 11.  

United Way’s 2-1-1 Long Island is a free, confidential service that provides callers with helpful information to those in need of assistance. Since its founding in 2010, 2-1-1 Long Island has assisted with more than 2 million inquiries that they have received through its call center and online database. 

“Over the 10 years we’ve been operating, basic needs is the highest request and search we’ve gotten by far,” said Elizabeth Eberhardt, the assistant vice president of community impact for the United Way of Long Island. “People looking for your basic food assistance, housing assistance, utility assistance, and maybe funding for medical issues. By and large it is people lacking the income and the resources to manage a crisis in their life at the time.”

The 2-1-1 Long Island hotline started with just Eberhardt answering the phone. It has since grown into a 24/7 operation with a call center and online database that collectively get hundreds of thousands of requests for help annually.

“Another big area of interest is mental health support,” said Lori Abbatepaolo, the adult services librarian at the Middle Country Public Library whose staff assists in maintaining the 2-1-1 website. “That sort of goes hand in hand because when you are living in such duress it is hard to maintain a quality of mental health when you’re always stressed.” 

A notable instance of such a case occurred when a Spanish-speaking resident called the 2-1-1 Long Island hotline in despair. A specialist who received the call immediately transferred the resident to the 2-1-1 interpreter line with a capability of translating more than 200 different languages and then assisted in transferring the caller to a local crisis center hotline. Two 2-1-1 specialists then stayed on the line with the resident until they got confirmation that the crisis line worker had transferred the call to an interpreter so the resident could get the help they needed.

Robert Suarez, the assistant vice president of community development for Bethpage Federal Credit Union, touted the Bethpage Volunteer Income Tax Assistant Program that’s one of the many programs accessible through 2-1-1. The 17-year-old program, which offers free tax help for low to moderate income individuals and families, has helped more than 18,000 Long Islanders. 

“We may not change the world, but we are impacting and enriching people’s lives everyday, which is meaningful and powerful,” said Suarez.

The celebration concluded with a 10 year anniversary cake as Eberhardt exclaimed: “911 is for a burning building, 211 is for a burning question.”

Long Island Valentine’s Day Events 2020

Candy Love Valentine's Day Chocolates Heart

Bring your special someone to see Long Island’s own America’s Got Talent finalist Sal “The Voice” Valentinetti sing the night away. Suffolk Theater, 118 E Main St., Riverhead, suffolktheater.com $65 8 p.m. Feb. 14, 15. 

Roses are red, Ron White’s collar is blue, celebrate Valentine’s Day, with this funny comedian, too. The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington, paramountny.com 7 p.m., 10 p.m. Feb. 14.

If you want to know the struggles of a disastrous date, but don’t want to go through one yourself, this comedic showcase is for you. Join comedians Jared Scheinberg and Christina Scheinberg as they host a hilarious Valentine’s Day show. Governors @ ‘Lil Room, 90 Division Ave., Levittown, lilroom.govs.com $15-$50. 8 p.m.Feb. 14.

Enjoy some champagne, chocolate covered sweets, and the cinema classic Cassabalanca with your special someone. Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington, cinemaartscentre.org $15-$20. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14. 

In the mood for something more than a three course meal, but less than a five course meal? Well you’re in luck, as you and your special Valentine can enjoy a romantic four-course meal, while dancing the night away at the beautiful Glen Cove Mansion. Glen Cove Mansion, 200 Dosoris Lane, Glen Cove, glencovemansion.com $99 per person. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14.

This Valentine’s Day love is in the air and by the water. Enjoy a five-course meal, paired with wine and chocolate, as you surround yourself with the one you love and beautiful aquatic displays. Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center, 431 East Main St., Riverhead, longislandaquarium.com $199 per couple. 8 p.m. Feb. 14.

Valentine’s Day is on a Friday this year, but you could continue celebrating the day on Sunday with a beer and wine tasting bus tour. With stops at North Fork Brewing Company and Riverhead Ciderhouse you’ll be amazed at what Long Island has to offer. Additionally, along your journey you can enjoy some complimentary cheese and chocolates, which’ll surely hit the spot. There are four different pick up spots for this event. libeerbus.com $160 per couple. 11:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 12 p.m. and 12:15 p.m. Feb. 16.

Follow your heart to The Heckscher Museum of Art to express your love for the arts. From Feb. 12 to Feb. 16, visit the museum and pick up a paper heart to take with you throughout the museum. Once you find a piece of art that has stolen your heart, you can decorate the heart, place it below your favorite artwork, and photograph said heart for social media. When you post to your social media site of choice, make sure to post it with the hashtags #heckschermuseum and #heartsforart, so you have a chance of being reposted by the museums social media accounts! The Heckscher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington, heckscher.org 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 12-16.