HOME > Chowhound > New York State (exc. NYC) >


Nassau County

  • j

At the risk of offending, and sincere aplogies if that is the case, I'd like to go on record and say that among nassau county, the 5 boroughs and westchester county, that nassau county, by a landslide, has the worst dining/eating options. Its mind boggling how terribly mediocre everything is, especially given all the great options that are available in the immediately surrounding areas. I'd like to be proven wrong, so I am begging for help here.
So we are clear, suggestions for places that are poor replica's/facisimiles and/or spinoffs from places that are elsewhere are a non-starter, such as "small-plate" style places, that serve "sliders" and poorly made $14 drinks. I'm looking for a place that is its own entity, that does not care what others think, and has food so good that when you are eating, you are already thinking about the next time you can make it back. A place (or item) that is universally good (like the grandma slice at Umberto's, the fried clams/soft shell crabs/scallop's at Bigelow's), regardless of whether its expensive or not, regadless of whether its been around for 1 year or 50 years. Please no sushi places that have "inventive rolls"; please no generic steakhouses; and please nothing in a strip mall along Old Country Road or whatever road.
Please help!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. There is always Olive Garden!!!! Just kidding.
    How about Mara's Homemade in Syosset?
    We also like Arturo's in Bellerose. Is that Queens?
    Otherwise, no other Nassau suggestions.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Motosport

      I almost hate to respond to the note about Mara's, because I tried it exactly once, which isn't really a good basis for an evaluation. But with that caveat, the meal I had there was pretty bad. And it wasn't a one-shot bad--there were eight of us, and the best the food rose to was mediocre. The brisket I had was like shoe leather, the gator bites had tiny, tiny flakes of meat.. I keep meaning to give it a second chance, since others have spoken well of it, but haven't had the opportunity.

      1. re: Motosport

        "We also like Arturo's in Bellerose. Is that Queens?
        Otherwise, no other Nassau suggestions."


        1. re: Gastronomos

          If it is Queens, it's a matter of inches or feet. Bellerose straddles the line and has both Nassau and Queens businesses and addresses.

          1. re: mcf

            I can't find an Arturo's in Bellerose, just Floral Park (minutes away). They have a 516 area code.


            1. re: Scott_R

              From its location, it's completely understandable that one would mistake it for Bellerose Nassau, which is in the Floral Park school district, for example.

              1. re: mcf

                regardless of current 'borders', is the food worth the trip?
                the website Scott_R supplied shows high prices and photos of food with diner style plating (and plates). not the most appetizing look. but i am willing to travel for good Chow...

                1. re: Gastronomos

                  Those prices are pretty middle of the range for mid range Italian, in my experience, in Suffolk as well. I haven't eaten there, cannot speak to the quality of the food, but I agree with you about the photos.

                  I think it's more old style family Italian, from the 60s. One reason a lot of folks like places like it.

                  1. re: mcf

                    Their gamberini fra diavolo is amazing!! The strolling mandolin minstrel is great fun. Ask him to play "Stairway to heaven"
                    Perfect freshly prepared zabaglione!!!

              2. re: Scott_R

                The food is good, very good.
                Have been eating their since my early 30's I am now almost 60!

        2. Elissa in North Bellmore is a little gem.

          1. Nassau County has a large Indian and Pakistani population and, hence, very good restaurants from the Subcontinent. Three to try: House of Dosas and New Chilli and Curry in Hicksville, Southern Spice in New Hyde Park.

            For extremely non-inventive (and excellent) sushi, get to know the sushi chefs at Yamaguchi in Port Washington, Taka in Westbury.

            Lola in Great Neck and Market Bistro in Jericho are two ambitious and distinctive restaurants that are not pretending to be in Manhattan.

            1. Pollo el Paisa in westbury for its rotiisserie chicken fits your bill.

              1. I agree that Nassau has few really good and interesting restaurants. We really don't eat out locally that much as a result. When we do, I agree with the suggestions made by and large by emarcus. That said, I haven't been to Southern Spice since they moved out from Flushing; New Chili and Curry we like a lot altho we tend to order from the Chinese side rather than the Indian. In my experience, most South Asians do not eat Indian out. They're eating Chinese food as it is usually prepared in India. We also like Yamaguchi. For hamburgers we go to Major's in East Meadow. For Chinese, We like The Orient in Bethpage and Fortune Wheel in Levittown; Both serve good Cantonese that is harder and harder to actually find in Flushing. Waiting for D. Meyer to open Shake Shack in the new Mall in Westbury. For fish, its Arties in Oceanside.That's about all I can think off....its depressing. For interesting food we tend to go to Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan in that order.

                1. Agree! Lived in Nassau for 20+ years, eat out often, and still searching for something that makes us want to keep going back. We usually head to Queens or Brooklyn. Since our favorite Chinese food (Shanghai Grill in Port Washington) closed and reopend as another Asian conFusion, current problem has been finding a replacement somewhere, anywhere in Nassau County. Doesn't have to be mind blowing, just good enough to satisfy that Sunday evening fix!

                  1. Nassau has Hicksville, a mecca for some of LI's best ethnic foods, anyway... I live in Huntington village, enjoy a lot of good dining options, but just as often head for Hicksville for variety. Shanghai Pavilion is gone??? Is that what you meant or is it another place? That was very good.

                    1. I'm sliding this in as sort-of Nassau, but I've become rhapsodic about the Vietnamese food truck off Spagnoli Rd--literally just barely inside the Suffolk border:
                      For me, your description hit it on the nail: I was already thinking about the next meal as I was finishing what I had.

                      1. I just moved to Nassau after 10+ years in Brooklyn and Manhattan. It has been tough. That said, I'm starting to warm up to:

                        Left Coast Kitchen in Merrick
                        Salumi in Massapequa
                        SriPraPhai in Williston Park (sister of the Woodside Branch--top-notch)

                        It's funny, we moved to Rockville Centre, in part, because everyone told us it had great restaurants. After trying many, I've settled on Nicks for Pizza (another Queens expat, and, for my money, pizza that can hang with anything from Brooklyn) and a burger at Grillfire (but only sitting at the bar, and even though the fries suck). Please help me.

                        1. Peter Luger. It may be about 10 feet from the Queens line, but it counts. There are a couple of outstanding features about the place that differentiate it from the Brooklyn branch. They do a whole lobster, minimum three pounds, reservations are easy to get and they serve the burger to kids at night. The steak and sides are every bit as good as what you get in Brooklyn.
                          Also, I love Lola as well, it is a fantastic restaurant, my kids call it the Top Chef restaurant. Great pizza can be found at Sal's coal oven in Port Washington and excellent soul food at L.L. Dent. Yes, it is located in a strip mall along Old Country Road. Take my word for it, try it. Try the Dominican Diner at the corner of Front and Uniondale for awesome mofongo and other traditional items. Diane's Trattoria in Roslyn does Italian unlike the other million Italian spots by recreating the cuisine of a Roman trattoria in a comfortable relaxed atmosphere. In your area, have you tried a steamed lobster by the water at Jordan's, the oblong pizza at Sorrento's in Long Beach or a double double from All American in Massapequa? How about Hummus,Falafel and Shwarma from Hummus World in Roslyn?
                          There are not alot of great high end restaurants in Nassau. Like most others I seek that out in the city, but it is out there so when you find it, let us know. Enjoy the hunt.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: stuartlafonda

                            Everything stuartlafonda said, plus Bigelow's in your own home town of Rockville Centre and Itgen's in nearby Valley Stream (hot fudge: perfect for cold weather).

                            1. re: stuartlafonda

                              Is Jordan's still around, post-Sandy?

                              1. re: Scott_R

                                Yes. Eat inside in the little room or take it to go. The Lobster Bar was already closed for the season.

                              2. re: stuartlafonda

                                Amazing reply, stuartlafonda--thank you. As for Lugers and Jordans, I was familiar with them before moving to LI--they are great spots that should not be taken for granted.

                                Lola is on my list of places to try--I will get there soon. As for the rest of your recs, I will definitely get to all of them--thanks.

                                I know there are not a lot of high end spots in Nassau, I'm just looking for something casual and quality. I feel that most of the places people recommend try to be high end with quasi-fancy decor and overpriced menus and bad wine lists. It can be frustrating.

                                1. re: stuartlafonda

                                  Just a small correction. The coal oven pizza place in Port Washington is named Salvatore's.

                                  Stuart - did you get to try Baxer Flats last summer? See my post below if you didn't,

                                2. My three favorite restaurants in Nassau County are New Chilli and Curry, which is Hakka cuisine combining Indian and Chinese (quite different and delicious), Sri Pra Phai (love that crispy fried watercress) and Las Vinas in Manhasset.

                                  I am surprised no one has mentioned Las Vinas, but who would have imagined there would be such a good restaurant in Manhasset, of all places. Las Vinas is Peruvian, serves excellent tapas, including Jalea and 4 different ceviches, and main dishes too. Every dish has so much flavor in it! Yum. Everyone we have taken there has loved it. You really have to try the place. Biscuits and Barbecue is worth checking out, too. It's a cajun enterprise and the Alligator sausage is scrumptious. The collards are good as are so many other dishes they serve. My son got their banana pudding last week and it was very special. It is in a tiny diner in Mineola. Check out their review in Anton Press papers.

                                  There is a Dosa place on Route 107 in Hicksville called House of Dosas that is all vegetarian. If you like Dosas, you will like this place.

                                  I live in Port Washington. Wild Honey is very good for well-prepared modern food. I don't know what else to call it. Both Bistro Etcetera and Kazan just received good reviews in Newsday. Kazan has Uzbeki food. La P'tite Framboise (sp?) is constantly crowded with a wait. And Chez Noelle has been called the best French food on the Island. Joan Remick even liked it. During the summer there is a clam shack on a Marina in Manorhaven called Baxter Flats. They cook up the freshest fish and it is excellent food. You can bring your own wine. The only seating is outdoors. Another must try.

                                  Port also has a fun and tasty event called the Soup-er Bowl every year on the Saturday before Superbowl Sunday. About 10 - 15 local restaurants serve up samples of one of their soups, all for a $7 admission charge. Check it out. Look on Patch or the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce website.

                                  Port has some very special bakeries, too. Main Street Bakery and St. Honore are two of them.

                                  Keep looking. You will find good food. And then let us know what you find.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: starny

                                    Since I wrote this yesterday, I decided to try Cafe Buenos Aires. It is in Huntington, and therefore not in Nassau County. It was a fun environment, although very noisy. The bartender and Maitre D' were both very nice. It has the same ownership as Bistros Citron and Cassis, La P'tite Framboise, and probably a few other restaurants. They are all very well done restaurants where you won't get a bad meal. I must say, however, that it is no where near as good as Las Vinas. The bartender pointed me to the Gnocci hot tapas dish and he was right. It was great.

                                    While contemplating this post, I remembered that the fairly new Mitch and Toni's is co-owned by the former chef, Mitch, from Bistro M in Glen Head. Bistro M was a fine, fine restaurant. I haven't eaten at Mitch and Toni's often because it is somewhat pricey. So, I can't vouch for how really good they are. They do have a cheap beer night and they offer a lot of different beers.

                                    Lastly, I haven't been to Fortune Wheel on Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown of Hempstead Tpke. for many years, but if it anything like it used to be, it is very good. The make (made) wonderful Dim Sum and very good Cantonese Food. Now that there is no Shanghai Pavillion, it is (was) the best Chinese food I could get out here.

                                  2. Had a wonderful off-menu dinner last weekend at The Orient in Bethpage: Oyster-Tofu soup, fried frogs legs, razor clams in black bean sauce. As its been said many times on this board, you have to negotiate your order with owner Tommy Tan.

                                    16 Replies
                                    1. re: dixdiner

                                      For a straight up , meal and reasonable $$$$, try Crabtree's in Floral Park.
                                      Something casual on a Sunday night, (although I think it is a chain) La Boteca on Covert Avenue, also in Floral Park.....I say this store, as I was directed there from one of the servers, who work at La Boteca in Roosevelt field....
                                      We were told to ask for the owner Paul, and ask for his suggestion of the day....After asking us what we were in the mood for .....He went in the kitchen and made us a pasta with a simple garlic and oil, and a sole with lemon and butter, with some sauteed tomatoes and greens over the top....OVER THE TOP it was....and fairly reasonable....
                                      Would you call it a chain, if the owner, goes in the kitchen and makes the food to order for you????

                                        1. re: mcf

                                          MCF..You are correct...definetly ,,....but a franchise where the owner is active....at least that was my experience..

                                          l lived in Roslyn for 28 years, moved 3 years ago. ..have you been to any of their establisments?

                                          1. re: PHREDDY

                                            No, not yet, anyway, though there is one right here in town. I'm not saying it's not good just because it's a chain or that you didn't get proper attention.

                                            1. re: mcf

                                              MCF....you are correct, I pointed to this specific one because of the service we got...I can only assume all have similar menus.

                                              1. re: PHREDDY

                                                Similar, but not the same. One big difference is that only certain locations offer gluten-free versions of (some of) their panini.

                                                1. re: Scott_R

                                                  I did not know that, thank you! for pointing that out. As you noted "similar"...I have only been to the one in Roosevelt Field and the one on Covert Ave....they were basically similar menus, but I guess since they are individually owned, they have some lattitude with their specials.

                                        2. re: PHREDDY

                                          A friend brought me to La Bottega Garden City South (my first ever visit to any of the locations) and had me sit down and order a panini listed on the menu. Don't remember what was in it, but I remember that I won't avoid this place if invited again.

                                            1. re: emarcus

                                              Perhaps only to us Paninari.... LOL! :-)

                                              1. re: Gastronomos

                                                Just follow up note...passed by La Bottega , on Covert Ave/ Floral Park noticed the name is no longer Bottega, but called El Capo...with a sign saying "same great food and owners, just a new name!.....

                                                1. re: PHREDDY

                                                  Three La Bottegas split off from the franchise; the others are the locations in Massapequa and in Huntington, which are Zona and New York Panini, respectively.

                                              2. re: emarcus

                                                ...three panini four!

                                                I love this game. ;-)

                                                1. re: emarcus

                                                  One cappuccino, two cappuccini
                                                  One zucchino, two zucchini

                                                  And then there's spaghetti....

                                                  1. re: emarcus

                                                    Red fish, blue fish.

                                                    Couldn't resist.

                                                  2. re: Gastronomos

                                                    For what it is, unpretentious, smallish , good for a decent quick meal....

                                              3. I am waiting desperately for you to find the holy grail... Long Island is an abyss of food at any level above crap.....

                                                10 Replies
                                                1. re: Gastronomos

                                                  In six years you have posted approximately 35 times and other then your two recent general complaints it is been virtuually nothing but trashing Greek restaurants. Your other post calls for food fit for human consumption, Have you tried the aforementioned restaurants? If not, why not? In last Friday's Newsday there was a story of a Long Island restaurant with a chef nominated for a James Beard Award, maybe you should start there. By the way, Lupa is one of your favorite restaurants? Really? It's not even one of Mario's favorite restaurants.Yes I have been there.

                                                  1. re: stuartlafonda

                                                    Thanks for the feedback. Yep. you definitely got me pegged.
                                                    Just as this original post states. no steakhouses.
                                                    Peter Luger, is a steakhouse.
                                                    I won't comment on it, it's... a steakhouse.
                                                    L.L. Dent... cold, crusty, stale...
                                                    3 visits and we were DONE!
                                                    And I agree wholeheartedly on your Double Double at All American. And the fries are Great!

                                                    1. re: stuartlafonda

                                                      BTW, I've been on chowhound a LOOONG time. Waaay before "6 years ago", back when this was a very simple place. It's a shame that only a few of my posts are available and those only from 2006 onward. And, by chance it seems that they zero in on the lack of Greek food to be found in North America. I posted about a lot of places way back when, that weren't Greek, steakhouses, diners or other premade frozen and microwave to order places with a desperate need for seasoning of any kind at all. But, thanks for the feedback. I guess Lola is where I have to go to find food. Peace.

                                                      1. re: Gastronomos

                                                        ............. and try Erica's suggestion of Market Bistro in Jericho.... and some North Fork joints...... and Mirabelle........
                                                        and some pizza... and some Indian............and yes, LI is no food heaven, the best thing about it is the proximity to the greatness of Queens............. and report back!

                                                        Peace to you.

                                                        1. re: stuartlafonda

                                                          "............and yes, LI is no food heaven, the best thing about it is the proximity to the greatness of Queens............."


                                                        2. re: Gastronomos

                                                          So here's what I don't get: I live on Long Island, and I have a long list of places I love to eat, from cheapo to high end, from Nassau to Montauk. Just eating one's way through Hicksville is a feast, and for not much money.

                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                            Mcf, thank you for the hicksville suggestion. I enjoy SE Asian occasionally. Hicksville is my usual stop, outside of queens. Still, outside of heavily spiced food and some occasional good "hits" that upon ordering again on a subsequent visit falls short of what was... inconsistent is what I find mist if these places to be. Your long list is of interest to me, but just as this original post, please no steakhouses, or sushi.
                                                            BUT! (I know I'm gonna get a lot of heat for this) if you know a diner, drive in, or dive on LI, (All American is awesome and been going there since I was a kid), I would love to hear about it. Peace.

                                                            1. re: Gastronomos

                                                              Most of what places do you find inconsistent? Name the ones from Hicksville you've found that way so we can compare notes.

                                                              The ones I listed on your duplicate thread are extremely consistent in my and other diner's experiences. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8946...

                                                              You first; I asked you to name the places you've tried and haven't liked so we may know what to avoid suggesting.

                                                              It's a big Island and county.

                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                Yeah. The *duplicate* thread... I don't get on here as much as I used to back when it was a simple place, every now and again I remember Mr. Leff and this site and when I get tired of all those around me dying for those Big Box "greek" diners and the awful food they serve or someone telling me I HAVE to try Baci in westbury, or, my favorite, "you like 'different' things... try blah blah blah , the food is 'spicy'...( bland and boring with a huge helping of hot sauce)... I come back here and post. THEN I check and see that someone already posted more eloquently about the same exact problem. I occasionally check threads of people I know have vastly different taste than mine. That's a good 'must avoid' for me and saves me a bad trip. It works both ways.
                                                                I know I'm tired of dining in generic steakhouses. I know I can't sit in another 'greek' diner again, I know I like to cook at home, but, I drive all over Nassau and western Suffolk. There had GOT to be something...somewhere. not that any of us waiting for Guy Fieri to stop anywhere on LI, but, at this point, it sure couldn't hurt.... if only to point in some direction what 'could ' be... or anything....

                                                                1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                  Okay, so, I'm really trying to be helpful, and it would be SO MUCH EASIER if you could say what you have liked, and which places I've (or others have) listed that you don't like. Failing that, I guess I'd suggest reading the most frequent Nass/Suff posters,like Coll, Motosport (those two REALLY get around, high milers with good tastebuds!), Scott_R(breakfast and coffee house specialist), for Nassau in particular, stuartlafonda, robinsilver, and for more high miles, emarcus(Newsday food write whose tastebuds I'd follow anywhere, has a great food blog on the paper's site)... and perhaps some others on this thread or others I may be missing... I've been cooking at home a lot more the past few years, but again, it's hard to know without more information form you, other than "big box" Greek, what you've liked and haven't liked. HTH.

                                                    2. Stango's Italian Restaurant has been showing me the love in Glen Cove for the last million years. Go eat there and quitcherbitchin!!

                                                      1. La Taberna in Island Park (North Long Beach).

                                                        Homemade chips gratis to start and excellent sangria. This porteugeuse spot is a favorite. The grilled meat platter for 2 is a steal served with sides of rice and potatoes(!) and delish vegetables. My sister loves the stuffed lobster.

                                                        Almost didn't want to share ;)

                                                        1. Finally tried Market Bistro in Jericho, today for my weekly lunch with MIL... First of all, great tunes today, so that's a good start.

                                                          Very professional and personable servers.

                                                          MIL had pan roasted salmon over winter vegetables with bacon and it had a beautiful crust and was very most inside (despite that fact that she orders it at least med/well). Very well executed.

                                                          I had the 1946 burger, medium cooked perfectly to order and really liked it. I was offered a market salad when I said no fries in response to a query (love that), and it was good except for the lack of salt in it or on the table. Salt isn't a thing you can judge for others, its taste is entirely based upon individual biochemistry, and I'm starting to need salt on my food wherever I go, either due to mine, or because everyone is reducing salt (stupid and unhealthy) to ridiculous lows. It's no insult to the chef to add salt to suit ability to taste it in foods, after first sampling the dish.

                                                          Dessert was flourless chocolate cake, very dark cocoa flavor, with an addictive caramel ice cream with a strong burnt sugar taste I couldn't get enough of, and I typically skip desserts.

                                                          I expect we'll return often; it's near MIL's assisted living and despite her cognitive limiitations, she gave it a big thumbs up.

                                                          1. Have you tried Vine on Merrick Road in Merrick? It's a really great place. Good food and drink. I recommend a party of four to go together. It's that type of place.

                                                            1. jnjn, if you still come around here, did you find anything to suit your fancy?

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                I found Hemingway's in Wantagh with family for lunch yesterday. We liked it.

                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                  You ventured down to the south shore? Nice. I'm glad you liked Hemingway's. I've been a couple of times for lunch myself, though not recently. Good looking place.
                                                                  I recall an entrée sized appetizer of Kung Pao Calamari & Shrimp. I remembered the second time I ordered it to request the overly sweet bottled sauce to be omitted. They do fry up the shrimp and calamari real nice and crisp like.

                                                                  1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                    I had a salad with steak. I did like the surroundings, much nicer than George Martin in Rockville Centre. My niece lives south of here, hence the migration. :-)

                                                                    I think they had sandwiches on ciabatta, nothing friend or sauced. My salad was too big for me to finish, and I eat half my meals over big salads. Lots of blue cheese, too.

                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                      If you are venturing south again, I'd like to recommend Morning Rose Cafe for Brunch or Lunch.
                                                                      I do believe the place is serving very good food. I've tried everything on the menu and have enjoyed everything on the menu. Weekdays better than very crowded weekends with long waits.

                                                              2. Lola is kicking butt these days. Chef Ginor has been adding Thai and other Asian dishes to the specials. He has an extensive backround in the food of Thailand, and it shows. Red curry with duck was delicious. Restaurant Week just started and yesterday I had the Fried Chicken/Collard Greens and Smoked Potato Puree dish. It was awesome. The chicken was perfectly fried, delicious crust and juicy. Greens were also very good, The potato part was a mess as it was a puree, and not very smokey tasting and just got all over everything else on the plate. I saw a lot of other great looking things going to other tables. Portions are very large and well worth the price from that standpoint alone.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: stuartlafonda

                                                                  The chicken is raised at a poultry farm in the Hudson Valley. Lola's owner is said to own the farm. While I have no facts to support this idea, I suspect there are other restauranteur owners as well. The reason I mentioned it is that the chicken is the best I have ever tasted! Amazingly, last weekend in the Poconos I was able to eat chicken raised at Campanelli's farm and it was equally wonderful! I am very happy for these small poultry operations.

                                                                  Lola also makes a roasted brussel sprout dish that goes beyond any I have ever had, or made.

                                                                  1. re: starny

                                                                    Google Michael Ginor, he has a very interesting back round. He loves to talk about himself, his travels and food. He is a very genuine guy. Incredibly interesting as well. A few weeks ago he mentioned his new business venture, a poultry farm, though I forget the name. That is in addition to his co ownership of The Hudson Valley Foe Gras Company. He is not at the restaurant as often has he had been in the past having turned the reins over to a new executive chef, and a very talented one, but his signature is all over the menu. On my next visit I will find out and post it on Chowhound.

                                                                2. For what it is worth, I was there yesterday and I can say that you can get excellent brick oven pizzas at Red Tomato in East Norwich.