Theresa Metzler

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3 New Restaurants To Try on Long Island

Mission Taco serves up authentic but not traditional street eats and cocktails.

ORGANIC KRUSH

On a mission to create a restaurant that is both organic and environmentally sustainable is Organic Krush, which offers a menu that is free from GMOs, pesticides, and artificial ingredients. 

Proving popular in Woodbury and Amagansett, the local chain opened shops in Plainview and Roslyn in June and is slated to open a fifth Long Island location in Rockville Centre this fall.

Organic Krush is known for a wide variety of beverages, from its fruity tropical twister smoothie ($8) to a refreshing truly green juice ($10). Aside from drinks, the menu is packed full of delicious, and affordable, classics. The breakfast menu has specials like heaven-sent hot oatmeal ($7) and an alluring create-your-own dinner, with a wide variety of meats, veggies, and dressings. 

Multiple locations, organickrush.com 

LONG ISLAND PEKIN

Babylon residents have welcomed a new and authentic Chinese restaurant into their neighborhood. 

Cofounder Jason Lee was thrilled to introduce a locally unique menu that honored both contemporary and traditional Chinese dishes. The restaurant has already been well received after being open just over a few weeks. 

Customers rave over the Peking duck baos ($7) and pork dumplings ($8), something the Long Island Peking owners specialize in. Lee is well known in New York City as the owner of a famed Chinese restaurant that also serves up these exquisite dishes.

96 E. Main St., Babylon, longislandpekin.com 

MISSION TACO

Debuting this summer, Mission Taco proudly proclaims its menu to be “authentically inauthentic” with a unique take on traditional Mexican classics. 

The taco joint offers Mexican taste blended with modern culinary techniques. The beverage menu showcases 20 different types of craft beer as well as cold-pressed juices and kombucha. But like any good Mexican-inspired restaurant, Mission Taco takes its tequila and cocktail list to the next level. 

Don’t hesitate to try their mission margarita ($14), a splendid mix of El Espolòn tequila, fruity citrus cordial, and sea salt foam. Or, take a bite of their carne asada taco ($6), packed with steamy sliced Angus steak, cilantro, white onion, and dark cherry chimichurri. Mission Taco prides itself on serving up these delicious bites on 100 percent non-GMO corn tortillas. 

371 New York Ave., Huntington, missiontacoli.com

7 Surprising Statistics About Long Island

Long Island

From the geography of Long Island to the population that lives on it, this strip of sand we call home has generated some interesting statistics over the years. Here are seven.

7. When including Brooklyn and Queens, the Island is home to roughly 7.5 million people.That outnumbers the populations of both Ireland and Jamaica!

6. Long Island has 125 public school districts and more than 650 schools. There are roughly 476,000 students and about 36,000 teachers at schools on the Island.

5. Long Island is 23 miles wide and 118 miles long at its most distant points.

The City of Long Beach is among Long Island’s most popular oceanfronts come summer.

The Island’s shoreline extends an estimated 1,600 miles.

4. Long Island’s municipalities include 95 different villages.

Huntington Bay village hall.

In Nassau County alone, there are a whopping 64 incorporated villages.

3. Minorities now make up over a third of the population. As of 2018, 35 percent of residents identify as black, Asian, or Hispanic. The growing population of minorities has increased more than 10 percent in the last two decades.

2. Four barrier islands protect Long Island from the Ocean.

This map shows where Fire Island is compared to greater Long Island.

Long Beach, Fire Island, Jones Beach, and Westhampton Beach make up the barrier beaches that spare the South Shore from the Atlantic Ocean.

1. Long Island is home to more than a third of the total population of New York State.There are nearly 3 million people living in Nassau and Suffolk, but when the residents of Queens and Brooklyn are included, the Island’s total population is more than 7 million.

3 New Restaurants To Try on Long Island

Surf Donuts serves up fresh takes on fried bread.

SURF DONUTS

A new donut shop in Babylon has made the dream of eating a piña colada a reality. 

The piña colada donut is among countless unique takes on fried bread that the shop is serving up. From a layered strawberry shortcake to a Fruity Pebbles-covered donut ($3), the variety of flavors goes on. Try their line of crumb cake donuts, or even one with a cannoli stuffed inside. 

The donut shop is a family-owned and -operated business that bakes donuts fresh each morning. Surf Donuts makes its gourmet yeast donuts to create a lighter and fluffier pastry when compared to traditional cake donuts. 

Surf Donuts is open six days a week, Tuesday through Sunday. 

10 Grove Place, Babylon, surfdonuts.com

GATSBY ON THE OCEAN

This literary-themed seafood spot debuted at the Jones Beach West Bathhouse just in time for summer.

Gatsby on the Ocean caters to all types of customers, from casual diners to grand wedding celebrations. A step into the restaurant can quickly become a step right into the 1930s. The aesthetics of the site are a blend of modern and art deco, and can be customized for practically any theme or event.

The menu offers fresh ingredients blended into new American culinary style. The classically trained chef, Andrew Helliwell, has crafted the menu to center on seafood. Enjoy beautiful ocean views while sipping on an extensive selection of fine wine from local New York State wineries. Or, try out the Gatsby Golden Ale, the restaurant’s locally brewed craft beer.

2000 Ocean Parkway, Wantagh, gatsbyontheocean.com  

BAYOU JONES

Cajun food lovers who miss The Bayou, the N’awlins-style eatery in Bellmore that closed in April, are in for a delightful surprise with the opening of Bayou Jones, which took the place of Rattlesnake Jones in June.

R.S. Jones transformed into a brand new Southern-style kitchen and bar serving up feel-good favorites, from their Southern-style fried pickles to their flame-seared Cajun dishes. 

As with both The Bayou and Rattlesnake Jones, expect a memorable dining experience at Bayou Jones.

153 Merrick Ave, Merrick, bayoujones.com

Long Island Celebrates Walt Whitman Bicentennial With Weekend Celebrations

Walt-Whitman
Walt Whitman

May 31 marks the 200th birthday of world-renowned poet and Long Island native Walt Whitman, whose work Leaves of Grass is considered one of the most extraordinary collections of poetry ever published.

The Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site in Huntington will be hosting celebrations for the occasion packed full of fun events for all to enjoy throughout the bicentennial weekend. Events include poetry readings, panels, workshops, and music.

There will be a panel presentation by scholars David Reynolds and Jerome Loving, who have spent their careers analyzing Whitman’s body of work and life story, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday at the historic site. Loving wrote Walt Whitman: The Song of Himself, which includes previously unearthed newspaper writings. Reynolds is an award-winning author who wrote Walt Whitman’s America: A Cultural Biography.

Shortly after the panel, there will be a Poet’s Corner that will include readings from Whitman’s greatest works running from 12 to 5 p.m. Additionally, visitors will have the chance to listen to music from Whitman’s era, alongside creating fun, colorful crafts. Whitman enthusiasts will then hold a Happy Birthday Hour in celebration of the author. Members will lead a toast starting at 5 p.m.

The organizers will also host weekend-long events at Radisson Hotel in Hauppauge starting at 6 p.m. Friday, with readings of Whitman’s Apprentices at 7 p.m. and Poets to Come at 8:30 p.m. Additional readers, panels, and performances follow at the hotel Saturday and Sunday.

Related Story: Walt Whitman’s Long Island Roots

At the historic site, there will also be an exquisite Poet’s Picnic from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday that will conclude with a musical presentation, that will include musical selections from Whitman’s era, among other events at the birthplace through Sunday.

The bicentennial event will be a stand-out event showcasing all of the beloved aspects of Walt Whitman’s life, and greatest work. Guests are encouraged to join, and help donate to the celebration.

In addition, the Huntington site will be holding tours of Whitman’s birth home from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday with a $5 fee. The site is home to where Whitman’s parents raised him, alongside his two siblings in the early 19th century.

For a full listing of events, visit waltwhitman200.com and waltwhitman.org $15-$100. May 31-June 2.  

Events will be held at Radisson Hotel, 110 Vanderbilt Motor Pkwy., Hauppauge, and at Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site, 246 Walt Whitman Rd., Huntington Station.

Suffolk Unveils New Non-Emergency 311 Call Service

Eastern Long Island residents will now be able to get answers to questions or make non-emergency complaints by calling Suffolk County’s new 311 hotline, officials announced Tuesday.

In addition to improving residents’ interactions and overall experience with local government, Suffolk311 serves as a management tool that helps officials better allocate resources and taxpayer dollars, officials said. It will additionally enhance public safety efforts by reducing the burden on 911 emergency call centers that receive tens of thousands of non-emergency calls each year.

“One call does it all” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone told reporters during a news conference at the 311 call center in Hauppauge, quoting the hashtag and slogan that the county is using to promote the new system.

Suffolk311 is the first suburban county 311 call center in New York State. New York City launched its 311 hotline in 2003 and the Town of North Hempstead founded its 311 in 2005. North Hempstead touted receiving its two millionth call to 311 this month.

Suffolk’s 311 will have six dispatchers on duty from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The trial version of the center received between 50 and 100 calls each day. Bellone said the number of dispatchers will grow as the program expands.

He also remarked that the cost of expansion will be minimal, and “a huge win for taxpayers”.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geri Hart joined Bellone for the announcement.

“This is an important day for public safety in Suffolk County,” Hart said. “This is a terrific, terrific opportunity for us to remain laser-focused on the emergency calls we do receive”.

An app and website for Suffolk311 and are expected to launch in the coming month.