Why cook when you can dine at these sizzling spots?
Don’t heat up your kitchen this summer. All along the North Shore, a unique mix of high-end restaurants and casual bistros are sure to please every palate, whether you’re in the mood for an upscale dining experience at a steak house, a family dinner at a traditional Italian restaurant or a tantalizing treat for your taste buds at a gastropub.
Market Bistro in Jericho is known for its dedication to using the freshest and finest food from local farms, wineries and breweries. With a pleasing geometric bar, barrels of beer and a chalkboard highlighting local suppliers and seasonal offerings, the restaurant has a modern and chic, yet farm stand–like atmosphere.
Lunch and dinner menus differ slightly, but offer snacks, such as market pickles; salads like baby beets; small plates like bison sliders and meatballs; and main dishes of risotto, rack of lamb, tuna and organic chicken; plus desserts like biscotti, McIntosh apple crisp and a stuffed brownie filled with homemade marshmallow and graham cracker ice cream.
Market Bistro is located at 519 North Broadway in Jericho; www.marketbistroli.com; 516-513-1487.
Winner of Open Table’s Diners’ Choice in 2015, Rare 650 in Syosset is dedicated to presenting “properly” cooked steak, well-prepared raw seafood, an elegant atmosphere and exquisite cuisine. With spacious, Hamptons-inspired dining rooms, outdoor seating and a gorgeous new conservatory, guests know they’re in for an exceptional experience before they even order.
Like its sister restaurants, Blackstone in Melville and Insignia in Smithtown, Rare 650 is more than a steakhouse. Beginning with starters like lobster bisque, grilled Mediterranean octopus and various salads, diners can also choose sushi and sashimi, including classic rolls, assorted sushi platters and Rare rolls, like the RareKobe, which has Kobe beef and avocado with spicy tuna and spicy king crab on top.
For main courses, offerings range from USDA prime dry-aged steaks and chops, including classic porterhouse, filet mignon and Colorado lamb chops, to salmon, chicken, shrimp and lobster, with side options that include a selection of potatoes and vegetables, plus black truffle macaroni and cheese.
In addition to desserts like homemade donuts, specialty drinks with homemade pineapple-infused Clementine vodka and an extensive wine list that has won the prestigious Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence for five years in a row, Rare 650 attracts guests for family dinners, special occasions, corporate events and weddings.
Rare 650 is located at 650 Jericho Turnpike in Syosset; www.rare650.com; 516-496-8000.
One of the great American steak houses, with its original restaurant in Brooklyn and a second in Great Neck, Peter Luger is synonymous with history, quality and amazing beef. Its menu is very basic, with daily lunch specials of USDA prime cuts of steak and ribs, as well as options of fish, chicken and a burger, and dinner appetizers of salads, jumbo shrimp cocktails, extra-thick bacon and sliced tomatoes with the famous Luger sauce.
The traditional dinner of steak for one, two, three or four, along with sides like creamed spinach and special German fried potatoes with Luger sauce, are what the restaurant is best-known for; but diners can also order lobster, chicken, lamb chops, ribs, and salmon or filet of sole.
Desserts include apple strudel, cheesecake, fruit tarts and pecan pie, all served with homemade “schlag,” AKA whipped cream. For private functions, Peter Luger’s party room seats as many as 60. Come prepared with cash—the restaurant doesn’t accept credit cards.
Peter Luger is located at 255 Northern Boulevard in Great Neck; www.peterluger.com; 516-487-8800.
With warm lighting, carpeted floors and a plethora of wine for both decoration and drinking, Franina’s inviting setting and food offer a taste of Tuscany in both its Syosset locale as well as the many parties it caters. In addition to its weekday lunch menu and full dinner menu, Franina’s catering and party menus offer a deluxe option, corporate lunch and four- or five-course meals that generally include antipasto, pasta, an entrée and cake for the occasion.
Voted as one of America’s top restaurants in 2014 by Zagat.com, Franina serves food like salsiccie di cinghiale, which is grilled wild boar sausage, sautéed broccoli rabe and spicy cherry peppers, as well as a variety of pasta dishes, meat and fish.
With its food prepared from organic fruits and vegetables from local farms and all-natural premium meats and pastas that are hand-cut and homemade, it’s clear why people choose Franina as their go-to catering spot for Italian food.
Franina Restaurant is located at 58 Jericho Turnpike in Syosset; www.franina.com; 516-496-9770.
A charming and casual bistro with a large antique bar in the front and a fireplace in the back, The Brass Rail in Locust Valley is considered a gastropub, serving both high-end food as well as beer. A bar menu with guacamole and chips, cocktail franks, baked clams and Buffalo wings, along with an extensive wine list, beer, cordials, scotch and cognac are available.
The restaurant menu offers reasonably priced options such as soups, salads, small plates, chilled seafood, entrées of fish, pasta, steak and sandwiches, and sides of onion rings, fries, vegetables, macaroni and cheese, and risotto.
Dessert offerings include chocolate chip cookies and several flavors of gelato. Brunch and daily specials, such as lasagna and garlic bread on Tuesdays and roast beef and Yorkshire pudding on Sundays, are also available. The Brass Rail is a neighborly place to eat, drink and be merry any day of the week.
The Brass Rail is located at 107 Forest Avenue in Locust Valley; www.thebrassraillocustvalley.com; 516-723-9103.
La Bussola Ristorante
Family owned since 1980, La Bussola in Glen Cove is the original of the three restaurants with the same name across the Island that are run by a father and his sons. Written mostly in Italian, the menu offers antipasti, pasta, zuppe e insalata (soup and salad), secondi piatti (main dishes) and cortorni (side dishes). The authentic cuisine includes dishes like the special Bussola salad, roasted quail with artichokes and polenta, a stuffed mushroom appetizer and gnocchi with prosciutto, mushrooms and Parmesan cream.
The lunch menu presents fewer options, but also offers an assortment of Italian cured meat, cheese and olives to start the meal. La Bussola, which just celebrated its 36th anniversary, guarantees a first-class dining and party experience, and can host as many as 120 people for private events, with the capability to accommodate special dietary needs, such as vegetarian and gluten free.
La Bussola Ristorante is located at 40 School Street in Glen Cove; www.piccolabussolarestaurant.com/glen-cove; 516-671-2100.
Located right near Manhasset Bay, La Piccola Liguria is a small, unassuming restaurant that Port Washington locals love for its exceptional Northern Italian food, water views and excellent wine list. Its menu is hard to find online, but worth perusing in its cozy floral-motif restaurant with offerings of antipasto like clams on ice and fresh mozzarella, arugula and endive salad; pasta like angel hair primavera and penne alla vodka; and entrées of shrimp francese, chicken parmigiana and veal Romano.
La Piccola Liguria is located at 47 Shore Road in Port Washington; 516-767-6490.
The Heirloom Tavern
Kent Monkan, a professional chef originally from Huntington, is the owner of both
The Brass Rail and The Heirloom Tavern in Glen Head. Although both restaurants are designed in a similar format, they offer completely different menus. The Heirloom Tavern also offers a bar menu with fairly priced bar plates with dishes like scotch eggs, veal meatballs and lobster tacos, along with an extensive wine and alcohol list.
On its restaurant menu, there are salads, soups like seafood gumbo, small plates such as lettuce wraps and foie gras, sandwiches including lamb gyros and cheese steaks, pastas, seafood, meat and sides like ratatouille.
For dessert, unique offerings include flourless chocolate cake, bacon bread pudding and New Orleans–style beignets. Also available in this gastropub are brunch and specials for every day of the week, like fried chicken on Wednesdays and seafood paella on Fridays. With such varied food from all over the world, The Heirloom Tavern is another tasty option for great food at reasonable prices.
The Heirloom Tavern is located at 32 Railroad Avenue in Glen Head; www.heirloomtavern.com; 516-686-6633.