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The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene

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Erica Marcus

Erica Marcus has covered food for Newsday since 1998. She has written features about the origins of Grandma pizza, the controversy over matzoh brei, the mystery of the soft-shell lobster and many many articles that attempt to justify the hundreds of dollars she spends every year on knives and knife-sharpening. Since 2005 she has written a weekly column, Burning Questions, in which she answers readers' questions. In 2002 her article “A Knish is Still a Knish” was nominated for a James Beard award, and in 2003 she won the New York Newswomen’s Club Front Page award for her “Food Without The Fuss: a history of TV Dinners.” After graduation from Swarthmore College, Erica took a job at Crown Publishers, first in production and later in editorial. She rose to the rank of Senior Editor and worked on a wide range of books, including many award-winning cookbooks. She left book publishing for newspaper journalism the same year she left Manhattan for her ancestral home of Brooklyn, where she still lives. She eats most of her meals on Long Island.

Closed in Huntington: The Shack

The Shack in Huntington, with a motto of

(Credit: Bruce Gilbert)

The Shack, situated on Gerard Street in downtown Huntington, has closed. The seafood-centric restaurant was the table-service offshoot of the The Shack in Centerport, a seasonal outdoor counter-serve spot for clam rolls, burgers and hot dogs.

The Huntington restaurant garnered one-and-a-half stars in a review in March of this year, with praise for such items as its briny whole baked clams...

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Closed in Wantagh: Cherrywood Pizzeria & Restaurant

Cherrywood Pizzeria & Restaurant on April 24, 2009.

(Credit: Daniel Goodrich)

Cherrywood Pizzeria & Restaurant, a presence in Wantagh for the past 50 years, has closed, becoming part of local history.

The capacious strip mall eatery, which relocated several years ago from its original spot in the Cherrywood Shopping Center, was known for its Neapolitan, grandma and Sicilian pies but also served some nontraditional pizzas, like mac ‘n cheese and eggplant rollatini....

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Open in Melville: The Refuge Food & Spirits

The Refuge Food & Spirits takes over the

(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)

In a restaurant climate of bewildering menus and ever-rising prices, the owners of The Refuge are hoping to provide just that — refuge. With crowd-pleasing, value-priced Italian-American and Latin dishes, and an eclectic vintage decor that is equal parts "Remember the Alamo" and "Come with me to the Casbah," the new restaurant on Route 110 in Melville, which opened this week, takes aim at that dining...

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brook23 in Lynbrook: First bites

Lobster salad sliders are served at brook23 in

(Credit: Newsday / Peter M. Gianotti)

Gastropubs are pouring it on in Nassau and Suffolk, and brook23 bar + kitchen in Lynbrook is a sudsy, sporty addition to the show.

The casual spot has enough TVs tuned to sports to keep you up to date on any scores. You may be focused more on the food and beverages, which often are very good.

The kitchen sends out tasty slider-size lobster rolls and an especially flavorful "crispy double...

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Dinner at Oak Room Tavern in Sea Cliff

At Oak Room Tavern in Sea Cliff, the

(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)

On a Friday night, all of Sea Cliff seems to crowd into Oak Room Tavern, and for good reason: The nattily appointed little room pulses with conviviality and, starting at 9 p.m., live music.

In the kitchen, executive chef Shawn Patrick cooks with undeniable talent, though his tendency to overwork a dish often obscures his skill.

I was happy to see razor clams as a special appetizer, and...

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Grotta di Fuoco in Long Beach: First bites

Fettuccine carbonara is served at Grotta di Fuoco

(Credit: Newsday / Peter M. Gianotti)

Grotta di Fuoco is firing up dining out in Long Beach.

Go down the industrial metal steps and you're in a bustling, lively, sub-street space that could have been exported from Williamsburg or another hot quarter of Brooklyn. And the lively, rustic Italian food is a welcome addition to West Beech Street.

Try a wood-fired pizza capped with eggplant, fennel, pecorino cheese, arugula and...

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Chill-chasing chili

"Z best" chili at Zinburger at Walt Whitman

(Credit: Newsday / Joan Reminick)

The weather is starting to turn blustery. This calls for nothing more -- or less -- than a steaming-hot bowl of chili.

The hearty, soupy Tex-Mex dish knows many variations. Often, but not always, it’s made with beef along with chili peppers, cumin and tomatoes. Beans frequently turn up, too. You can also find versions made with pork, chicken or turkey. And for vegetarians, there’s meatless...

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Five Guys tests milkshakes

Five Guys Burgers and Fries is test-marketing shakes

(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)

Five Guys Burgers and Fries, a formerly shake-free zone, began testing milkshakes at select New York and New Jersey locations earlier this year. I’ve always admired the fries at Five Guys. My relationship with the burgers is more complicated. I don’t exactly like them ... and yet I can’t stop eating them. (Readers: Has this happened to you?)

So when I learned that six of the shake-testing...

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Open in Levittown: Firehouse Subs, first LI branch of national chain

The new Firehouse Subs in Levittown is decorated

(Credit: Firehouse Subs)

Firehouse Subs, a Florida-based national franchise chain, just opened its first Long Island branch in Levittown. The chain, which was founded by firefighters, offers an assortment of sandwiches, some under 500 calories. Each restaurant is decorated with memorabilia from the local fire department. A nonprofit arm of the business, the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, also aids local first...

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Artistry at The Orient in Bethpage

Steamed whole chicken is garnished with Chinese mustard

(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)

The Orient in Bethpage has a huge selection of dishes, some of them authentic Chinese, some of them American-Chinese classics, some of them the product of owner Tommy Tan’s fevered imagination. He is always excited to try out his new creations on customers and it’s rare that I leave the Orient without having gotten a taste of some new specialty, usually featuring filet mignon. (Tan seems to believe...

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