Jeff and Vera Wurst

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Jeff is a practicing attorney. Vera is a retired school teacher. Both love Long Island food and wine and are delighted to share their discoveries with you. Contact them via lipressfood@gmail.com.

1221 at MFP: Roslyn’s New Treasure

Left to right: An opening present from the chef: creme fraiche with haricot vert, Lamont and peach pure; Yellowfin tuna crudo, with wasabi avocado mousse, smoked sesame seeds, quinoa and watercress; and Octopus with Peruvian tear drop peppers and arugula with sweet and sour ponzu and tarragon aioli.

It’s exciting to find top caliber new restaurants opening on Long Island. We discovered 1221 at MFP in the elegant Roslyn Hotel. MFP is a nod to My Father’s Place, the recently rebooted legendary music venue in the same hotel.

The chef, Tomoyuki (Tomo) Kobayashi, started working in a kitchen in his native Japan when he was 8 years old. By 16, he was working in a French kitchen in Osaka. He came to the U.S. in 1988, working in kitchens in Philadelphia and New York City with Christian Delouvrier at Lespinasse.  

His reputation then grew as he worked with Gabriel Kreuther of The Modern fame and Alain Ducasse at the Essex House. His base of Japanese, French, and American cuisines brought him to become a mentor to Executive Chef Noriyuki Sugie at Asiate at Mandarin Oriental. In 2007, Tomo came to LI and opened Toku Modern Asian Restaurant, his own restaurant on the Miracle Mile, under the Poll Restaurant Group. Two years ago, he became the executive chef for Louie’s Grill in Port Washington.

He is the first Japanese chef to receive the coveted Academic Culinaire de France Diplome. Now patrons can enjoy Tomo’s superb menu at 1221 at MFP.

The atmosphere at 1221 is pretty, and new and clean, neat and pleasant, stylish and subdued, with soft hues and tables spread out. The restaurant seats about 80 plus, with more seating at the bar area. The service is polished and impeccable.  

Guests will be seated and given a warm towel before starting the meal. The menu is designed so one can determine in what order the food should be served. A prix-fixe menu is also available. Don’t expect the usual green salad, spaghetti, or hamburger!

The wines are from small producers and brought in by a small import company in New York. The restaurant serves wine by the glass from one of the largest organic wine selections on Long Island.

Tomo marries flavors from purveyors around the world, blending the products from his vendors. The meal started with a gift from the chef of crème fraiche with haricot vert, almond and a peach puree.  

Yellowfin tuna crudo had a Japanese influence, served with wasabi avocado mousse, and for a crisp texture, smoked sesame seeds and quinoa, garnished with watercress.  

The chicken broth sang with a dumpling of chicken, lemon grass, parsley and fresh herbs, baby bok choy, watercress, and a touch of chilies.  

An attractive colorful plate of octopus was served with Peruvian teardrop peppers with an impressive tomato-like taste, distinctive arugula, sweet and sour ponzu, and tarragon aoli.

The black sea bass was pan seared giving it a crisp skin, and served with Savoy cabbage and leeks in a spicy miso broth. The fish and the mushrooms, cabbage, carrots, and greens stood out and were not soggy in the broth. And what a bouquet as it was brought to the table!

The steak bavette, the “butcher’s best kept secret,” is a cut that is an extension of the T-bone and porterhouse on the short loin. Tomo served this with chimichurri sauce and a salad simply dressed with olive oil and salt and pepper.  

Dessert was a coconut soup with mango, Japanese peach, candied nuts, sweet beans, and matcha panna cotta and coconut sorbet. The flourless chocolate cake was served with vanilla gelato and garnished with a dehydrated pineapple. Each was a great ending for the palate.

We enjoyed an excellent meal with nuances in the creations which are married with a diversity of cultures and techniques.  

1221 at MFP is located at 1221 Old Northern Blvd. in Roslyn. It can be reached at 516-583-9803 or 1221li.com. Open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. Appetizers (called One and Two) $11-$22; Entrees (called Three) $21-$42; Prix Fixe $42.50, Happy Hour (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday) $5-$12.

Jeff is a practicing attorney.  Vera is a retired schoolteacher.  Both love Long Island food and wine and are delighted to share their discoveries with you.  Contact them via BestOfTheWurstsReviews@gmail.com.

Pearl: A Newfound Gem in Island Park

What better way to start out the new year than by experiencing a new restaurant?

At Pearl in Island Park, owner Paul Holand and executive chef Michael Ross have teamed up again after their first venture, Pasta Grill in Rockville Centre, which opened in 1993. We have been waiting for them to re-emerge and we are thrilled that we can again enjoy their wonderful cuisine.  

This talented pair brings us a restaurant with a sophisticated atmosphere that is chic, posh, and inviting. There is ample bar room, which keeps the bar crowd from interfering with the diners at tables, and a fireplace.

Chef Ross has been wowing diners on Long Island for more than 30 years.  Following the closing of Pasta Grill, his creations charmed us at some of our favorite places including Fiddleheads in Oyster Bay, Bel Posto in Huntington, Sally’s Cocofe in Huntington, Jewel in Melville, and Salt & Barrel in Bay Shore. He grew up in Brentwood, hence his cognizance of local products, and attended The Culinary Institute of America. His signature dishes are incomparable.

Pearl’s menu is exciting. It was difficult for us to select items from the many choices to enjoy on our first visit. There is only so much we can eat in a single sitting.  Fortunately, we had some friends dining with us, so were able to broaden our samples. We will revisit Pearl again and again — at least until we taste each of the items on this diversified menu.

We have followed Michael for more than 20  years, to a great extent because of his talent with fish and seafood. The fresh raw littleneck clams and local oysters were superb, as is the ceviche. An awesome tuna tartare is joined by scallion, chives, a lemon truffle dressing and sesame seeds.  

Other appetizers that we sampled included the calamari a la plancha served with scallions, herbs, sea salt, black pepper, and red wine vinegar, a fresh, tender, and tasty dish.  The grilled octopus was presented with chickpeas, olives, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and herbs, on a plate decorated with black tahini.

Our entrées were the pan-seared diver scallops — huge, supple scallops that stand out in an accompaniment of green olives, capers, anchovies, and a saffron-tomato broth with basil, united with couscous. What a combination! And the butcher block special, a 28-day dry-aged sirloin served in a red wine glaze, with colossal visalia onion rings and charred whole vine tomatoes.

Chef Ross has perfected the art of making pasta. Fresh homemade pasta dishes on the menu include fresh linguini with lobster with basil mint garlic, tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil, and paccheri, a very large tube-shaped pasta energized with shrimp, scallops, clams, calamari, tomato and basil.  

The evening ended with the lemon cheesecake with crème anglais and fresh whipped cream, and the pearl flourless chocolate cake served with an exceptional chocolate gelato, both desserts made in-house. Our next trip will certainly finish with the Pearl sundae, made with vanilla bean and salted caramel gelatos, fresh chocolate sauce, chocolate pearls, almonds, and fresh whipped cream.  

Congratulations to Michael Ross and Paul Holand, who once again are giving Long Islanders this pearl of a restaurant: the consummate restaurant with a versatile, artistic, distinctive, top-drawer menu, and a venue that is aesthetically pleasing, congenial, and elegant.  

Pearl, 4338 Austin Boulevard, Island Park, 516-432-0723, Pearlrestaurantny.com, Monday-Thursday 5-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 5-11 p.m., Closed Sunday. Appetizers $8-$14, Entrees $22-38, Desserts $6-$8.    

Jeff is a practicing attorney. Vera is a retired schoolteacher. Both love Long Island food and wine and are delighted to share their discoveries with you. Contact them via lipressfood@gmail.com.

Mirabelle Tavern: Top-notch Dining in Stony Brook

Left to right: Celebrity Chef Guy Reuge’s award winning pan seared food gras, the colorful and tasty scallop and salmon terrine, and the Butternut Squash Soup with toasted Brussels sprouts, pepita and pumpkin oil.

The beautiful, historic Three Village Inn is the set Mirabelle Restaurant and the more casual Mirabelle Tavern under the direction of Lessing’s Hospitality Group, which includes Sandbar in Cold Spring Harbor and seven other Suffolk County eateries.

Mirabelle’s chef, Guy Reuge, born in Normandy, France, cooked for the French President, was a Chef of the Year, an honorary member of the James Beard Foundation, has received four stars (top rating) from The New York Times, Newsday, Zagat, was featured in Bon Apetit, Food Arts, New York Magazine, Gourmet, on the Food Network.

Mirabelle opened in 1983 in St. James by Guy, who started his U.S. career in Manhattan in 1973, and his wife, Maria, a former editor at Gourmet Magazine. Mirabelle has been at its present location since 2009. Guy relies on local farms, local seafood purveyors and other local merchants to secure the best seasonal foods for his inventive dishes.

Adam, the manager, was the first member of the cast we encountered. He took us to our table and was continually attentive, but not overbearing. Our waitress came to the table and introduced herself. She took our orders and carried through with our requests. The observant staff members poured water and wine as necessary (never interrupting), served the courses, cleared the dishes, and supplied the necessary silverware unobtrusively.

The evening we dined we were able to peruse many menus. It was restaurant week, so a special menu was presented which featured three courses for $29.95 per person. Mirabelle has an a la carte dinner menu that ranges from small plates to elaborate “big plates”. The regular farm to table menu includes a prix-fix three course meal for $36 Monday through Thursday or $38 Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Also available is a nine course tasting menu for $95 per person, or $150 per person with wine pairings.

The preview was a specialty of the star chef of Mirabelle – foie gras. The fattened liver’s preparation was featured in the center of the plate, pan seared on top of a flaky puff pastry, supported by walnuts, a mixed berry coulee, and caramelized apple tourne. Tourne is French for turned. The apple is turned to cut pieces to resemble the shape of a football.

We enjoyed a Caesar salad adorned with pickled anchovies from Italy, and an egg that is boiled to produce a solid white exterior and a soft yolk. The flavorful seasonal squash soup was garnished with roasted Brussel sprouts, pumpkin seeds, and drizzled with pumpkin oil.

The scallop and salmon terrine, with a center of pickled carrot and parsnip enveloped in a seaweed wrap, is served with pickled onions, yuzu mayonnaise (mayonnaise blended with an Asian citrus fruit), and adorned with frisee salad in a sherry vinaigrette.

The action continued with tender braised beef rib short ribs costarring wild mushroom fricassée, and cipollini onions.

For the climax of our meal we enjoyed a Black Forest Cherry Cake (Schwaerzwalder Kirschtorte). The cherries are cooked in alchohol and cooled are mixed with whipped cream. The mixture is encased between two layers of rich chocolate cake, and to top the cake a layer of whipped cream is added. We also enjoyed an apple tarte tatin served with tasty vanilla ice cream.

Our dinner was finalized with a cheese assortment. The chef uses only American cheeses and we were served a Jasper Hill Alpha Tolman (from a Vermont cow) a semi hard chees;, an uplands Rush Creek Wisconsin cow cheese; and a Goat cheese from Twig Farm on a platter with apple grape coulis, walnut raisin bread, and red grapes.

The wine list is impressive, reasonably priced (or perhaps underpriced). We enjoyed a 2005 Chateau Bertrand Braneyre Haut-Medoc at $44. This wine sells in wine stores for $32. It was not only a wonderful wine – it was a great bargain, rated by Vivino amongst the top 3 percent of all wines in the world and top 7 percent of the Haut-Medocs. 

Mirabelle is named for a yellow plum which grows in the Loire Valley. This restaurant is, indeed, a special plum of Long Island.

Mirabelle located in The Three Village Inn, 150 Main Street, Stony Brook. 631-751 0555.  Prix fixe three course meal $36 or $38, a la carte snacks $7-$10, soups and salads $8-$14, small plates $10-$28, entrees $10-$28.

Jeff is a practicing attorney. Vera is a retired school teacher. Both love Long Island food and wine and are delighted to share their discoveries with you. Contact them via lipressfood@gmail.com

Jonathan’s Ristorante: A Huntington Treasure

The mozzarella di Buala at Jonathan's.

Jonathan’s Ristorante, a Huntington fine dining staple since 1994, has endured longer than most restaurants downtown. Originally a deli, its previous owner sold it to Roberto Ornato, who converted it into a fine restaurant but kept the name.

Roberto was born in Torino, the automobile center of Italy that’s home to Fiat, raised in Rome, and brought to the U.S. various styles of Italian cuisine. He worked for Cipriani for 10 years before venturing out on his own.

At this well-run establishment, the service is impeccable without being intrusive. Shortly after we were seated, the manager, Alex Vergara, stopped by to greet us and chat about the menu.

Tito Onofre, who has been the executive chef for almost 21 years, brings training from his native Peru and the Florida Culinary Institute. Classic, refined dishes emerge from his small kitchen with minimal storage. As a result, deliveries are daily, assuring that the freshest ingredients are used.

Jonathan’s eclectic menu emulates what was cooked up in Ornato’s mother’s kitchen. The menu changes seasonally but popular classic mainstays are always available. Choices range to please the simpler tastes or the tastes of more sophisticated, well-travelled diners. Sometimes they push the envelope with unique dishes. Once seated we were presented with perfect bread — crusty on the outside and soft inside, along with fresh-cut Parmesan cheese and olives.

We started our dinner with piatto di salami, served on a slate board, including various meats: speck (cured ham from the South Tyrol mountains in northern Italy), prosciutto, mortadella (a cooked meat similar to bologna), and two types of salami. Figs, Parmesan cheese and other seasonal garnishes were added to enhance flavors.

Burrata uniquely was served with peaches, heirloom tomato, and kale. Fritto di carciofini is marinated, sautéed artichokes flambéed and adorned with pesto sauce. A bed of yellowfin tuna tartare comes over cucumber slices partnered with avocado salad and wasabi mayonnaise.

The fresh arugula and Parmesan salad is painted with a citrus dressing with lemon, lime, and orange juices. A special appetizer we sampled was wild-caught seared sea scallops, served with sautéed baby artichokes and basil pesto garnished with watercress.

We enjoyed two homemade fresh pastas: bucatini with a lavish Bolognese sauce laced with parsley, and linguini with shrimp and grape tomatoes merged with a creative nduja sauce.

Artistic entrees were blackened yellowfin tuna, layered with spinach under polenta and guacamole draped by cilantro oil, dressed up with watercress in an array of perfect color and contrast. The anatra alle more (Long Island duck breast) was a mosaic of flavors, textures and colors served with a delicate blackberry sauce, farro and roasted Brussels sprouts. Whole California blackberries accompanied the dish and were the perfect finish to the palate.

The bistecca alla griglia is so good it needs no embellishment to get a full flavor. No sauce needed but it may be served with the black truffle butter, peppercorn sauce or plain olive oil.

The branzino is an eloquently prepared, butterflied fish left with backbone, appearing with frisee, fennel and apple salad.

Vegan dishes are available along with other dietary desires. All items are made to order thus accommodating any diet restrictions.

Desserts are all homemade. We tried the maple mascarpone cheesecake, with a texture between Italian and New York cheesecake. The domestic and international wine list is extensive, with reasonably priced, excellent wines and selections for those special occasions. We chose the 2012 Camigliano Brunello di Montalcino ($75), which was both extraordinary and underpriced.

The adventure was thrilling. Dine at Jonathan’s and leave happy!

Jonathan’s Ristorante, 15 Wall St., Huntington. 631-549-0055. Lunch Tuesday – Saturday 12-PM-3PM. Dinner Tuesday- Thursday 5PM-10PM, Friday and Saturday 5PM- 10:30PM, Sunday 4PM-9PM. Lunch starts at $10. Prix Fixe dinner nightly $35. Appetizers $10-$18. Pasta (half portions available)$19-$26. Entrées $22- $45.

Jeff is a practicing attorney. Vera is a retired schoolteacher. Both love Long Island food and wine and are delighted to share their discoveries with you. Contact them via lipressfood@gmail.com.

The wild-caught sea scallops at Jonathans are a work of art.

Master Chef Best Chinese Fusion Restaurant: New Fine Dining in Syosset

Clockwise from top: Peking Duck Roll has the lightest and tasty crust we have experienced and the inside is as good, Shanghai Soup Dumplings with the soup inside the dumplings instead of the other way around, and Baby Shrimp with Pea Shoots- this special is a wow dish filled with flavors.

Fusing 5,000 years of Chinese culinary arts with American culinary preferences is Master Chef Best Chinese Fusion Restaurant, which drew a crowd upon its debut in Syosset last month.

After valet parking, the elegance continued as we stepped into the opulent-yet-relaxing center hall with marble floor and magnificent appointments. To the left is the bar area with tables and to the right is a lovely themed dining area decorated with ergonomic-backed silk-lined chairs, silk drapes and silk placemats. Tables are set with golden embossed china, beautiful chopsticks, golden napkin holders, and red napkins.

Patrons will be pleasantly surprised at how good a spare rib can taste, or how an egg roll shell can be flakier than a croissant, or how soup broth can be inside the wonton instead of the wonton being in the soup. The chef uses prime meats, fresh seafood, market vegetables, spot-made sauces, and only the finest ingredients.

We were seated by the host/general manager William Chin, a second-generation former chef who was attentive to each table. Owner Henry Liu hired Chef Chung Fane Ho, who was trained at a renowned culinary school in his native Taiwan. He has been a chef in the U.S. for more than 30 years, making Cantonese and Shanghai dishes that use less oil and grease.

At Master Chef, everything is made to order. This establishment takes diners to a new level of Chinese dining where signature dishes are created with a passion that makes each plate special and unique.

An assortment of teas is offered. We decided on Buddha tea, a combination of black tea and jasmine.

Our meal started with meaty, juicy spare ribs served with pickled cabbage and radish slices. The dipping sauce was a soy sauce with ginger. The ribs, we were told, were cooked for four hours in the oven, then grilled with the marinade added only at the end.

The marinade, as all sauces served at Master Chef, is made fresh, not kept in a bucket in the fridge. Each sauce is different for each dish. Another captivating dipping sauce was made of black vinegar with ginger slivers.

Next came the soup dumpling, a dish with influence from Shanghai. Miracle wontons are served in a steamer and taken out with a spoon. Cut into the dumpling and, voila, the soup leaves the dumpling and spills out into your spoon.

After that came the crispy, flaky, duck egg roll, with a hint of cilantro and miso, black sesame seed, hoisin sauce, served over parsley and cabbage.

That was followed by the Cantonese-style fried calamari prepared with salt and pepper, red and green bell pepper, onion and scallion — crispy, flavorful crust on tender pieces of calamari.

The main course was rack of lamb grilled with cumin and garlic powder, prepared medium rare, with a side of radish and black vinegar and sugar. We also had eggplant rolls stuffed with shrimp and scallops topped with shaved scallions in a garlic sauce, and baby shrimp over pea shoots in a light white wine sauce. The Taiwanese rice dish was minced pork belly that melts in your mouth over white rice, enhanced with five spices and marinated radishes.

Asian desserts are often heated. Here the desserts are made by only the best bakers in the tri-state area. We sampled a cake made of many layers of crepes with a green tea cream. A perfect ending to this lavish meal was the key lime cheesecake – decadent and refreshing.

We had an aristocratic dining adventure where detail matched the quality, in a luxurious atmosphere highlighted with beautiful illustrations of real Chinese food.

Master Chef is a must-try. We are confident that it will quickly become one of the most sought-after dining establishments. We are pleased we were here to see it spanking new.

Master Chef: 6600 Jericho Turnpike, Syosset. 516-931-6222. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Lunch $9.95-$12.95, Appetizers $6-$12, Entrees $12-$46, Desserts $6-$8

Jeff is a practicing attorney. Vera is a retired schoolteacher. Both love Long Island food and wine and are delighted to share their discoveries with you. Contact them at lipressfood@gmail.com

Across the Mediterranean: The Cove and Sufiya’s Mediterranean Grill

Perfectly prepared octopus at The Cove.

What better way to bring summer to an end than to enjoy a terrific dinner at The Cove while watching the sunset over the water? This lovely, picturesque venue on Glen Cove Creek, formerly the site of Steamboat Landing, opened in 2016.

Its award-winning Chef Jack Yiannakou, from Cyprus, is a master of authentic Mediterranean cuisine who trained at Ava, the renowned Manhattan Greek restaurant This is not your everyday Greek restaurant.

The Cove’s owner, George Iordanou, a Greek Cypriot, had for 20 years owned Noir, the French restaurant at Manhattan’s Kimberly Hotel. Philip, George’s son, skillfully manages this well-run destination.   

We began with a tasty and highly recommended bottle of Assyrtiko from Northern Greece, which was full bodied, different from the vintages we have long enjoyed from Santorini.

Our meal started with grilled octopus on chickpea puree, adorned with capers, bell pepper, parsley, and celery for a delightful chorus of tastes, colors, and textures, supplemented with a lift of lemon. We continued with a tuna tartare, freshly cut with a dose of cilantro, avocado, soy glaze and crunchy toasted quinoa.  

A favorite, the village Greek salad, had tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, olives, imported feta, dressed with extra virgin olive oil, lemon and herbs and spices.  

We were tempted by oysters, Little Neck clams, and ceviche tacos, white fish marinated in lime with jalapeno and red onion. Other small plate items were the Mediterranean dips (tzatzkiki, hummus, spicy feta, and taramosalata fish eggs, olive oil and lemon juice for a delectable spread), and the baked-in-olive-oil haloumi, a Cyprus cheese, usually made of goat’s and sheep’s milk that resembles mozzarella.

For our entree, we chose the special, dorado, prepared Mediterranean style fish drizzled with olive oil and lemon. The filleting comes after the fish is grilled whole, leaving it tasteful and moist. Lemon potatoes are a great accompaniment to any Mediterranean dish.

There are alternatives to fish, such as steak, hamburger, pasta, and lamb.

A refreshing end to our meal came via a tangy lemon tarte Tatin and a creamy tiramisu.    

The Cove, 74 Shore Rd, Glen Cove, TheCoveNY.com, 516-676-1211.

Sufiya’s Mediterranean Grill took over the Merrick spot that was Nicholas James. The interior was redone with French windows, allowing for outdoor seating.

Sufiya’s, which has another location in East Meadow, features Persian cuisine, so it serves wonderfully grilled selections that are a home run for vegetarians. Portions are generous. Along with salads, selections include a homemade vegetarian moussaka baked eggplant, potatoes, zucchini and peppers in a tomato sauce; a fresh grilled plate of seasonal vegetables; eggplant grilled with mushrooms, peppers, onions, zucchini and plum tomato; and large falafel of chickpea balls served with hummus seasoned with herbs. All are served with choice of white or brown basmati rice.  

For the carnivores, there are kebabs, beef stew, lamb stew, or lamb shank, all served with white or brown basmati rice and grilled vegetables .  

We ordered a bottle of Cankaya Turkish white wine.  

The heritage shines through with the array of appetizers. Eggplant is in the kashkeh bademjan and baba ganoush. Chickpeas are the main ingredient in the sambuseh, falafel, and hummus. You might try dolmeh (rice seasoned with Mediterranean herbs and spices wrapped in grape leaves), a panir (feta cheese, olive oil and walnuts), spanakopita, or sigara borek if you prefer filo and feta, and mast-o-khiar (yogurt cucumber and mint). We picked at freshly marinated pickles and olives while we perused the menu.  

We couldn’t make up our minds between the distinctive salads, including tabouli, house, Greek and other options. We went with the shirazi salad of diced cucumber, tomato, red onion, and parsley in a lemon dressing, which came with our entrée.   

The freshly grilled striped bass was our choice of fish. Sensational! The shrimp kebab was appropriate because Sufiya’s specializes in perfectly grilled, colorful kebabs.

Refreshing homemade Persian ice cream was the dessert featuring a blend of pistachio with saffron cream.

Sufiya’s Grill, 2057 Merrick Rd., Merrick, SufiyasGrill.com 516-644-2201.  Jeff is a practicing attorney. Vera is a retired school teacher. Both love Long Island food and wine and are delighted to share their discoveries with you. Contact them via lipressfood@gmail.com.

Best Of The Wursts: Bistros And Clam Bars

Popei’s shrimp, calamari and bay scallops with spinach over zucchini linguini.

Aperitif Bistro and Wine Bar in Rockville Centre is owned by Peter Oktas and Julio Velasquez, the same owners as Sage Bistro in Bellmore, Sage BistroModerne in Woodbury, and another Aperitif in Bayside.

It stands out among fine restaurants. The large venue has warm red hues, a wraparound bar island and an outdoor dining patio. It is not uncommon to be treated to live music.

Here you’ll find assorted small plates and entrees not found elsewhere. The extensive wine list has many modestly priced and some rarities. The complimentary crispy French bread is authentic. Jeff usually asks for thirds.

Try mussels, a French bistro favorite, as a small plate or an entrée. Other bistro dishes are foie gras and chicken liver mousse joined by red onion marmalade and toast points, steak tartare, Brie fondue with apple pieces or bread for dipping, escargots, tuna tartare, and French onion soup.

The charcuterie plate includes Roquefort, truffle pecorino, midnight moon goat, and Manchego cheeses. Accompanying these can be saucisson sec, prosciutto di Parma, duck rillettes, duck prosciutto, dry cured chorizo, chicken liver and foie gras mousse. Pick three for $12, five for $18, or the Aperitif board for $25.

Typical French main dishes include the sole meuniere served with julienne vegetables and potato puree; coq au vin braised in red wine with bacon, mushrooms, vegetables, and mashed potatoes; canard served with julienne vegetables and basmati rice, and a boeuf Bourguignon with carrots, bacon, mushrooms and mashed potatoes.

We enjoy dining here because with their small plates we can have many different tastes at a reasonable price. Our most recent visit was with another couple so we maximized our choices.

We started with well-executed tuna tartare; authentic steak tartare; a grilled shrimp tower with hearts of palm, avocado, frisee, and a delicate tang of citrus; grilled octopus with chorizo, fingerling potatoes, and cherry peppers; zucchini pancakes served with a dill sauce; chopped salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, pepper, onion and Romaine in a lemon dressing; and a marinated artichoke with arugula salad served with a lemon truffle vinaigrette and Parmesan cheese.

Naturally, for dessert, there’s crème brulee, mousse, profiteroles, soufflé, and crepe suzette, but we prefer the apple tarte tatin. A cheese plate is also available. Don’t forget their specialty coffee.

Aperitif Bistro and Wine Bar, 242 Sunrise Hwy., Rockville Centre, 516-594-3404.

Popei’s Clam Bar and Seafood Restaurant has been family owned and operated in Bethpage for 35 years and remains a popular mainstay for family dining, even on a weekday evening.

Two pages of the menu list starters, not including the homemade soups on a third page. Another two pages are for specials — one with nightly specials and another with specials for the evening. Entrees are served with a salad and choice of potato or linguini. The selections are eclectic and extensive even though the restaurant is billed as a clam bar and seafood restaurant. Our grandson, Matt, picked the venue because he loves their chicken wings.

The meal starts with delicious garlic bread, a marriage of olive oil, butter, garlic and paprika, made fresh daily. All wines can be had by the glass or the bottle. The reasonable bottle prices range from $28 to $47.

We kicked off the meal with appetizers of fresh seafood fried, steamed, baked, Thai style, on the half shell, peel and eat. For mains, we shared baked ravioli, shrimp topped with mozzarella, a lobster and shrimp fettuccine in an alfredo sauce, chicken Parmesan, and blackened sea bass served over spinach ($27.99). All fish can be prepared blackened, Cajun, broiled or Mediterranean. Zucchini linguini or gluten-free pasta is also offered instead of starch.

Desserts include an apple pie that is billed as Granny Jo’s Apple Pie. You can also find cheesecake, cannoli, chocolate lava cake, and carrot cake. Our granddaughters selected the Nestle’s Toll House cookie topped with ice cream and whipped cream and Mighty Rob’s waffle sundae for two.

Popei’s is a fun place to go for dinner with the family and it won’t break the bank.

Popei’s Clam Bar is located at 384 North Wantagh Ave., Bethpage. They can be reached at popeisbethpage.com or 516-822-9169.

Jeff is a practicing attorney. Vera is a retired schoolteacher. Both love Long Island food and
wine and are delighted to share their discoveries with you. Contact them via lipressfood@gmail.com.

Best of The Wursts: From Nautilus to Nonna

Steak night at Nautilus Cafe can't be beat.

La Nonna Bella is a bona fide Italian restaurant in Garden City operated by chef Lino DeVivo, who comes from Conversano, a Bari suburb in Puglia on eastern Italy’s Adriatic coast.

Puglia is renowned for wholesome and diverse tastes of simple and healthy recipes passed down for generations. La Nonna Bella means the beautiful grandma, and you can taste  grandma’s love in the recipes here.

DeVivo presents dishes from this region that yields like the native orecchiette pasta made from duram wheat. Pastas from Puglia tend to be made from only flour and water because eggs were once a luxury. At La Bella Nonna, as in Italy, the ingredients are fresh, wide ranging and simply prepared.

Our waiter, Nelson, recommended several appetizers: Carpaccio de Manzo adorned with arugula and shaved parmesan cheese; Insalata Di Polpo e patate with celery, olives, and drizzled with a lemon garlic-infused olive oil; and a special, tartare of succulent shrimp, balanced with avocado, corn, wasabi mayo, and balsamic.

We had the choice of having branzino served as a whole fish filet or whole and deboned tableside. We chose cooked whole because there is so much flavor that comes from the bone. The server masterfully trims the fish, but if you prefer, DeVivo will debone it in the kitchen. The fish was served with fresh herbed olive oil and assorted delectable vegetables.

Amongst the homemade pastas is Gnocchi di Alberobello with olive gnocchi with cherry tomatoes, roasted garlic, extra virgin olive oil, arugula and shaved ricotta. Don’t pass up the Cavatelli Conversanese, homemade cavatelli sautéed with caramelized onion, spinach and smashed fava beans, reminiscent of DeVivo’s hometown. The other selections of meat, fish and fowl remain tempting for future visits.

The substantial wine list has wines from Toscana, Puglia, Calabria and Piemonte, ranging from $38 to $370.

We opted for berries for dessert after our generous meal, although we were very tempted by the homemade bomboloni, aka donuts – one filled with Italian custard, another with nutella, and the third with cannoli cream.

La Nonna Bella, 660 Franklin Ave., Garden City, 516-248-0366. lanonnabella.com

NAUTILUS CAFÉ

Freeport’s Nautical Mile is renowned for seafood restaurants. Recently we visited the Nautilus Café, which has been on Woodcleft Avenue since 1988. The restaurant continues to deservedly enjoy an excellent reputation for fresh fish and meats.

Brian Crofton is owner and executive chef of this staple waterfront eatery where wood walls complete the feel of being on a boat. Our attentive waitress, Vicki, guided us through an impressive list of specials as a creative bread assortment arrived.

Wednesday night is steak night, when the menu includes choice of a cocktail, salad or soup of the day, and potato or vegetable. The main dish is boneless prime rib, grilled marinated skirt steak, aged shell steak or veal porterhouse chop.

Our appetizer was tender sesame-crusted rare tuna harmonized with soy sauce, cucumber wasabi sauce, and ginger sesame sauce.

All dishes come with a Caesar or house salad. The Caesar was freshly dressed so as not to overpower the crisp, fresh romaine lettuce. The flavorful dressing is prepared daily from
scratch. It was amongst the best Caesar salads we have had outside of the famous Brown Derby in Los Angeles.

We couldn’t resist the great deal on the steak night menus and ordered the succulent porterhouse veal chop unified with a new twist of vegetable, burnt broccoli. The veal chop was thick, moist and broiled to our liking.

Fresh swordfish was a special that night. We chose to have the well-executed blackened swordfish. Too often swordfish is dry and overcooked, but not at the Nautilus. It was thick, delicate, delectable and perfectly cooked.

We resisted the sweets and finished with fresh strawberries, but without the fresh homemade whipped cream. We did eye the selections at neighboring tables. The sizzling apple crumb pie, frozen mud pie and warm chocolate lava cake looked tempting.

The Nautilus Café also has a nice wine selection of reds, whites and sparking varieties ranging from $30 to $145 per bottle along with by-theglass selections.

Nautilus Cafe, 46 Woodcleft Avenue, Freeport, 516-379-2566. nautiluscafe.com

Jeff is a practicing attorney. Vera is a retired schoolteacher. Both love Long Island food and wine and are delighted to share their discoveries with you. Contact them at lipressfood@gmail.com

Best of The Wursts: Steak, Sushi & Trattoria

Monsoon, housed in the old Bank of Babylon building, stands out from the crowd on the main drag. The New York Strip steak at Monsoon takes patrons by storm.

An experience to behold is dining at Monsoon in the former Bank of Babylon building, run by the trendy Bohlsen Restaurant Group, renowned for restaurants such as Prime, Tellers, and Verace.

Monsoon’s Manager, Doug Riley, oversees an enthusiastic staff serving creative, tasty and attractively presented food. The eco-friendly modern elegant décor includes a mezzanine overlooking the action. The lighting and music form a cool setting featuring a lively bar as you enter.

Chef Jack Grace devised a distinct Asian-influenced menu with sushi, sashimi, rolls, dim sum, dumplings, steamed buns, and more. Monsoon is also known for its steaks. The notion is that dishes should be shared.

We chose an exciting specialty roll, the Japanese Cowboy, made with Wagyu beef, lobster, and avocado with dips of eel sauce and yuzu mayo. We also enjoyed a sushi sashimi sampler, finishing our small-plate tasting. We rounded off our small plate tasting with crab cakes that were crabby, not bready.

The heart of our experience was steak and duck. The New York strip steak was superb — aged 21 days and served perfectly rare, harmonizing with a duo of crispy shrimp and lobster wontons and accompanied by a subtly dressed watercress salad. The Peking duck, made in a special roasting oven, was moist inside and crispy outside, served with steamed buns, thinly sliced cucumber, scallions, and hoisin sauce.

We ordered a side of wok-charred mushrooms popping with crispy shallots. Wines are on tap or by the bottle. The signature dessert, the Tempura Fried Oreos, has a chocolate dipping sauce supplemented with powdered chili.

A meal often leaves you thinking about the best part. This time, we had a conflict because each dish was as terrific as the other.

Monsoon: Steak & Sushi, 48 Deer Park Ave., Babylon, 631-587-4400, monsoonny.com. 5-11 p.m. Mon. to Thurs, 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Fri. and Sat., 4-9 p.m. Sunday.

DA GIGI TRATTORIA & BAR

Many homemade pasta manufacturers deliver to restaurants serving “fresh” pasta, but they cannot compare with the freshness of the few that serve pasta made on premises, or pasta fatta in casa.

We recently discovered Da Gigi in Lynbrook, whose fresh homemade pasta is the real deal. This destination restaurant is not easy to find, which may be why it has been Lynbrook’s best-kept secret — until now. The evening started with complimentary pesto bruschetta with thinly sliced pepperoni to tempt our palate as we perused the menu.

Although not extensive, the wine list includes a nice selection priced from $25 to $85 per bottle, with each also available by the glass. We went right to the top and enjoyed a Brunello di Montalcino.

Our granddaughter was with us, so we had the opportunity to sample even more than usual. We started with polpettine al sugo, a remarkable casserole of tiny veal meatballs dancing in a light tomato sauce garnished with melted Auricchio cheese — our granddaughter’s favorite. The polpo alla Siciliana (grilled octopus), served over shaved fennel, was presented with orange slices. The burrata Pugliese is a soft mozzarella escorted by zucchini flowers, baby spinach and roasted peppers.

On a subsequent visit, we tried the salumi e formaggi, selecting from a choice of eight cured meats and eight cheeses. Strongly recommended for a Tuscan dining experience.

We love tuna tartare, which was a special. Chef Will Merget says he cuts tuna to order, then dices and mixes it for the tartare. The freshness was apparent.

We shared three wonderful pastas: the bigoli al torchio al ragu anatra (duck tomato ragu), trofie al pesto and the special, squid ink black capellini served with seafood. Trofie is our favorite pasta, native to Liguria, the Italian Riviera. From Genoa east it is served with potatoes and fagiolini (string beans). Da Gigi adopts the western version of pasta and pesto, no additions.

The trifle we are accustomed to is rolled like a mini-crescent roll. Da Gigi’s was made in a pasta pressing machine and appeared much like a fusilli. It was tasty with structure, like fresh pasta should be. Buono! The brasato di bue alla piemontese, braised boneless short rib in red wine sauce, was a reminder of our Torino dinners.

Dessert was homemade tiramisu, well worth the calories.

Da Gigi Trattoria, 174 Merrick Rd., Lynbrook, 516-599-0298, ptwelvecatering.com. 5-10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday.

Jeff is a practicing attorney. Vera is a retired schoolteacher. Both love Long Island food and wine and are delighted to share their discoveries with you. Send your recommendations to lipressfood@gmail.com

Long Beach Offers Barrier Beach Banquet

From beginning to end, dining at Atlantica at the Allegria is superb.

Too often we patronize national chain stores and not local momand-pop stores — but that’s not a problem in Long Beach!

Lido Kosher Delicatessen has been family owned, under strict supervision, on the East End of Long Beach for more than 70 years, and by the current owner, Wally Goetz, for more than 30. He comes from a long line of kosher food purveyors.

At the entrance is the take-out counter, the grill behind it with the hot dogs cooking, and the showcase of the house-prepared foods. In the full-service dining area, enjoy bowls of pickles and fresh, homemade cole slaw. Order that corned beef, pastrami, or brisket piled high. The pastrami and corned beef are cured by the family in their own plant.

The deli provides free delivery to many local areas, ships orders to almost anywhere nationwide and offers a catering menu of freshly prepared kosher foods to satisfy all palates. Wally also joins the growing array of food trucks on Riverside Boulevard at the beach – the Shoregasboard Food Court.

A hot dog costs $3.99. Add a knish for $3.99. Try the lunch specials seven days a week. There are even vegan options.

Jeff loves the pastrami and never varies. His friend, Dan, is crazy over the Meshugana – brisket with mashed potato on scooped-out garlic bread with a side of gravy.

Some may like chains, but we like the locals. Lido Kosher Deli is a true relic.

Lido Kosher Delicatessen. 641 ½ East Park Ave., Long Beach. Phone 516-431-4411. Appetizers are $3.99-$9.99. Sandwiches are $11.45-$17.95. Complete dinners are $22.95-$27.95. Salad platters are $12.95-$22.95. Open daily for lunch, dinner, delivery, and takeout.

Lido Deli

RESTAURANT HAPPENINGS

Maxwell’s in Islip is putting the “fun” in Sunday. Starting at 11:30 a.m., the boozy brunch kicks-off and the DJ starts spinning. Try the fork and knife hungry man sandwich and the berries-stuffed French toast.

The Flour Shoppe Cafe of Rockville Centre, where everything is farm fresh and made in-house, has plans to open two more locations. Stay tuned!

ATLANTICA AT THE ALLEGRIA

Picture a perfect summer day with French doors wide open overlooking the boardwalk as the ocean breeze rolls in. That is what diners experience at Atlantica at the Allegria Hotel in Long Beach.

With breathtaking ocean views and beautiful décor, this is the perfect spot on the beach. The restaurant is undergoing a rebirth and under new management. Couple this with food and service that is attentive, yet not pretentious.

We arrived and were greeted by a hostess who sat us immediately. Stuart Fast has been the food and beverage manager for over a year. He had experience in the restaurant business and knows how to train a staff to ensure patrons are well taken care of.

Enjoy the seasonal menus created by Executive Chef John Maffei, who previously worked for the Hyatt organization. After its opening, Atlantica catered to tourists, but under this management, it has been focusing on the community.

We started with seven huge shrimp, lightly poached in Prosecco, bursting with flavor, supremely tender and accompanied with a cocktail sauce. The Caesar salad was done with a light dressing with carrot croutons instead of heavy bread croutons, as part of the gluten-free selections that will be expanded.

Jeff is always searching for the perfect hamburger and could not resist their short rib and brisket burger blended in-house. The generous portion of meat is hugged by Vermont cheddar cheese, served on a hearty bun with lettuce and tomato, and joined with freshly cut French fries.

Vera loves osso bucco and enjoyed the tender lamb shank braised in Pinot Noir wine. They accommodated her request to switch the potato side to bok choy, which was a great combination.

Each was perfectly prepared and beautifully presented. There were many choices to end the perfect meal. We chose the apple tartlet served with vanilla ice cream and ginger slivers.

Atlantica at the Allegria, 80 West Bwy., Long Beach. Phone 516-992-3730. Dinner appetizers from $10-18 and entrees from $20-$34. Wines by the glass are from $9 to $14. Bottles start at $34. Open daily for breakfast and dinner, lunch Monday through Saturday and Sunday Brunch.

Jeff is a practicing attorney. Vera is a retired school teacher. Both love Long Island food and wine and are delighted to share their discoveries with you. Contact them vialipressfood@gmail.com