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finding decent food in no mans land LI

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anywhere between Huntington and the Hamptons or the North Fork, food choices are many, but decent food, for a night out, is far between.
We went to the Sea Basin last night in Rocky Point. It's been there for a decade or more.
But it is a Greek diner that serves "Italian" food. Portions are huge, quality is good, service is fine. Everything tastes the same and is rather heavy or overdone in prep. Skip it.

Il Porto Bello
1090 Route 112
Port Jefferson Station NY 11776

Good food for the money with taste. Service a little spotty on a busy night. Good sized portions without being "food for the week".

Pasta Pasta, which has been around for years, up in PJ proper, is the same, but a bit more expensive and classy looking.

Ruvo, a recent addition to PJ, received a mixed view from family that was there recently.

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  1. What about La Plage in Wading River. I've never had a less than spectacular time there. And since you're talking Port Jeff, of course the pizza place with the coal oven, but also Costa de Espana has great food and atmosphere.

    1. We feel exactly the same about the lack of good places to eat on LI. We spend our summers on the North Fork each year and we really enjoy going to the Cooperidge Inn. It is on Rt. 25A, near Edwards Ave. It's east of Wading River, say 15 min. Sorry I can't be more specific. They also serve a Sunday buffet but we have yet to go.
      Anyone know anything about Giorgio's at the Bluffs in Baiting Hollow? Is it still working as a restaurant or is it exclusively for catered events? We have gone there many times and always enjoyed the atmosphere and the food.
      Great thread. I'm looking forward to more responses on this topic.

      1 Reply
      1. re: LIMary

        As reported on other threads, Cooperage has gone way downhill in the last few years. Even the atmosphere is like a mass feeding. Georgios does a very nice brunch open to the public, my friends told me they went for dinner too: very good, but not sure of the schedule.
        I understand Stonewalls in Riverhead (off Sound Ave) is exceptional, and also does prix fixe. http://www.stonewalls-restaurant.com/

      2. If you went just past Sea Basin and took a left on Main Street in Rocky Point, you'd come to Graces, on the right, in the old train station. Everything there is cooked from scratch -- no frozen or pre-prepared or instant anything. Food choices are mostly of the comfort food variety, although comfort food of more than one nation, and wonderful comfort food. Prices are decent value. I particularly love the brandied bread pudding they have for dessert. My friend always orders their chicken sate appetizer as his meal. The decor isn't elegant but it is clean and homey. I've never been disappointed in a meal there. I haven't lived on Long Island now for almost three years so I hope this mention isn't outdated.

        1 Reply
        1. re: susanl143

          I stopped in there today just to check it out, it looks just as you said and lots of friendly people hanging at the bar, I'll definitely try it for dinner soon.

        2. Mirabelle in St. James is located between Huntington and "the Hamptons" and is one of the best restaurants in the New York metropolitan area. http://restaurantmirabelle.com/
          I haven't been to Casa Rustica in Smithtown in a long time, but it used to be good. http://www.casarustica.net/
          Also, Bella Vita City Grill, right down the road from Mirabelle is good, if not great. http://www.bellavitacitygrill.com/?p=...

          1. Pricey - try the Lakehouse in Bay Shore.
            Meduim Priced - Bayview Inn in Jamesport, Emmersons in Babylon and In Season in Islip.

            1. Kitchen A Bistro in St. James. Menu changes daily and you need to bring your own wine. Reservations are a must on weekends

              1. I've not yet made either La Plage, Bella Vita or Mirabelle, though I've heard all are quite good.
                Costa de Espana was disappointing for lunch, but I might try again for din.
                Kitchen Bistro was also weak at lunch with the staff blaring their favorite annoying music.

                1. we made Bella Vita last night. While it wasn't the best Italian I've had for the price. It didn't suck.
                  The chef served an amuse bousch of white bean salad that was very tasty. The bread basket included crisped garlic bread, walnut raisin loaf and boule slices with butter.
                  I suppose the butter and raisen walnut are a localized thing. In the city or a better restaurant I'd see just the "peasant" loaf and a plate of plain or flavored olive oil.

                  My mom and I split a portabello salad with Parma Prosciutto, Roast Pepper, Caramelized Onions & Ricotta Salata. Though the dressing was a tad too sweet, the salad was very good.
                  For mains, my brother had shrimp scampi with, basil and sun drieds. He enjoyed although commented that 5 shrimp for $22 seemed a bit short. I'd agree. 20 shrimp at the fish store sell $10.
                  My mom had the Pan Roasted Striped Bass ‘Livornese’ Gaeta Olives & Capers in a Spicy Plum Tomato Sauce. It had rice and string beans for sides. She felt, and I'd agree. that a little angel hair would have been a better choice for an Italian restaurant.
                  I had Cavatelli Rustica w/Broccoli Rabe, Cheese & Parsley Sausage, Marinated Plum Tomatoes, Melted Gorgonzola Cheese which I thoroughly enjoyed. I did take a bit home in what must be the cheapest take away box I've ever had, especially for something with a liquidy sauce. The container split and spilled; which is the last thing I took away in my head. For 10¢ more .....
                  For dessert we had cappuccino, very good and "NY" cheesecake and apple crumble.
                  My mom enjoyed the cheesecake, though that wouldn't have been my choice at an Italian restaurant, but the didn't have much in the way of Italian desserts.
                  The apple crumble was house made and very good.
                  Service was very good, though a bit slow for a fairly empty house.
                  I'd place Bella Vita on par with Pasta Pasta, but PP is fairer priced.

                  1. One of my top places is Butterfields in Hauppauge. Chef Jerry is definitely a flavor junkie, that's why my wife and I go often. Service is good, the place can get a bit loud if it's full. Definitely worth a try.
                    Carnival in PJS, Nesconset Shopping Plaza is also a place to try. Pizza place up front but large dining room in the back. Very nice atmosphere, good service, an interesting large italian menu.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: LIfoodie

                      We did Butterfields about 3 months ago and I want to note that the food is good except that the portions of the protein part of the entree are minimal and the noise level is unbearable. It is overpriced for the undersized main part of the entree. For example, I could of made 3 Butterfield main courses from a single portion of tuna from the Cooperage.. The structure of the restaurant has hard walls and ceiling and they sometimes have music playing. You may as well go to eat alone or learn sighn language. It is not pleasurable dining.

                    2. we hit Carnival a few times and weren't impressed. Bella Vita & PP in PJ are definitely better.

                      1. Pentimento, Stony Brook Village. Have been there twice recently and had outstanding, reasonably priced meals both times. Italian fare, homemade pasta, great house merlot by the glass, excellent service and a beautiful room. I would go there just for the basket containing 3 kinds of fresh-baked bread and crock of garlicky white bean spread instead of butter. Seafood entrees are generously proportioned and perfectly cooked, and home-made pastas also very good. Blows away Carnival, which has gone soooo far downhill in recent years that we don't even get pizza takeout from there anymore (prices have also soared through the roof!).

                        1. last night we went to La Plage with lovely views of the Shoreham plant and the Connecticut shore. But the food was better then the views.
                          We had squash soup, that could have been hotter, but it was very tasty with a faint hint of cinnamon. Tart apple salad w/Danish blue and Jarez vinegar, and beet salad on arugula with goat cheese were very good.
                          For mains we had, local striped bass, pan seared scallops, a sort of seafood fra diavolo and bacon wrapped shrimp; all were very good. For dessert almond cake with almond ice cream and berries and cappuccino all of which was good.
                          Disappointmenting was the bottle of '98 Lan Rioja, that I knew nothing about; nor did the restaurant. That's a weak point. If you have as an extensive wine list as theirs, then either have knowledge of your stock or a written description about them; or be prepared to suggest alternatives you do know.
                          But this is a very small restaurant that seats perhaps 30. I'd bet Saturday is nutty enough without having to think about wine.
                          Unfortunately, the next table of 8 "adults" was a drunken screeching collection of North Shore white trash whose decibel level probably exceeded their check.
                          It's too bad a decibel meter can't be attached to electric shock in the chairs that triggers over 90db. It's hard to believe how loud and incredibly rude people can be in public places. Even the staff was apologizing. But they appeared to be regulars so I imagine that's why they weren't shut down.
                          In spite of these negatives, I'd go back, but never on a weekend night.
                          Around $75 pp with tip.

                          1. I've loved Benten for Japanese in Mt. Sinai on Rte. 25A for years, Show Win in Northport is great for creative sushi rolls..
                            Also, Blonde, in a strip mall shopping center on 25A in Miller Place is an unexpected treat for this area.
                            La Casa Pizza and Pasta had (I moved a few years ago) a fabulous dish, chicken Cardinale that was our biggest regret about moving.
                            For Indian, Curry Club in Setauket is about as good as Suffolk County has, and Thai Gourmet in Port Jeff Sta was excellent.
                            I agree that Pentimento in Stony Brook is worth a trip.
                            I had an awful meal on one of my few trips to La Plage, including terrible service, very out of character, but a total turn off. It involved fried calamari that was cold, greasy, and thick with uncooked batter, and that typified that whole meal. Haven't gone back since, though had always loved it before.

                            1. I suggest Blonde in Miller Place. My wife, daughter and I had dinner last Wednesday and, in a word, "Fabulous!" It was as good as any meal and dining experience we've recently had. It's in an unassuming setting, the Aliano strip mall, and it frontage simply has the restaurant name in a small sign. Through the front door and welcome to Oz. The servers were two 20-something ladies, dressed elegantly in Manhattan black and really knew their stuff. The suggestion of the house chardonney by the glass and the snapper over the creamy shrimp risotto was spot-on. I can't say enough about the friendly, unpretentious and knowlegeable service. The food -- appetizers, salads, entrees, desserts, drinks -- were across-the-board delicious. Oysters Rockefeller were tasty, briny, in the ocean that morning and served over a tiny and tasty dollop of potato puree (not rock salt). Nice touch. Fried calamari were, well, different. Upscale cousins to one's we're used to. I had pumpkin soup. What a treat. Creamy, loads of character and perfectly late autumn. If rack of lamb is on the menu, order it. This is a lamb chop! And soft as, you know, butter. Creme brulee for dessert was also exceptional and exceptionally creamy. I've had it a hundred times at many restaurants and this is as good as it gets. Bottom Line: Great service, great food, understated yet charming interior and very modestly priced.

                              1. we went to Blond last night. It was very good, other than the large loud drunken party of 16. But everyone has to make a $.
                                My mum and I both had the Mussels with Sherry Wine, Garlic and a Shallot-Chive Cream and Atlantic Salmon with Whipped Potatoes, Creamy Spinach, 
Candied Fennel and a Riesling Fried Caper Butter. Both quite good. The creme with the mussels is very light. I also didn't detect any cream in the spinach, which was fine by me, Good fresh spinach. My brother had Ahi Tuna (rare) with Coconut Infused Rice, Mushroom
                                Noodle Spring Roll with a Fig Preserve and Soy Glaze, that he enjoyed very much. They're a bit heavy on the potato portion, but you can leave it behind.
                                A nice multigrain bread is served before with a bit of EVOO.
                                We had 2 creme brulee, excellent and I had a Cinnamon Poached Bartlett Pear
                                Honey Scented Mascarpone Cheese, Seasonal Berries. This was a bit bland.
                                The only other disappointment was they were out of espresso for capp.
                                And we had a half bottle of Mt Veeder Cab. $200/tip for 3. A little pricey, but I'd go back.
                                Our waitress, Nicole was very nice and seemed to be the only one on last night, but handled the population well.
                                It's a small room, perhaps 40 people.

                                We also went to Oscars a few months back. I don't remember what we had, but everything was quite good.