Big, booming Roosevelt Field has taken gastronomy far beyond the food court and is starting to look like Long Island's Restaurant Row.
The past few months has seen a spate of rapid-fire births: The Capital Grille, an upscale national red meat chain; Sixth & Pine, a full-fledged table-serve restaurant within Nordstrom; and Havana Central, part of a Manhattan-based chain, where empanadas often are served with salsa -- the musical kind.
"The sit-down restaurants you're seeing today are something relatively dramatic, more in your face than in the past," said Bruce Tobin, executive vice president of Simon Property Group, owner of Roosevelt Field.
Roosevelt Field serves multiple purposes for Julia Brown of Merrick, who calls the mall "a viable option for walking around these frigid days." This mother of three -- who has a fourth on the way -- has tried just about every restaurant here. When accompanied by her brood, she likes to hit La Bottega, or Skinny Pizza. She and her husband will go together to Seasons 52 for flatbread pizza and, perhaps a salad with salmon. "I like these healthy options," Brown said, adding that Houston's also has been a longtime choice. A new favorite is The Capital Grille. If there's time before or after eating, Brown may do some shopping.
It wasn't the lure of the stores that drew Suzanne Rose of Northport to Grand Lux Cafe. She and her husband were meeting their daughter and her boyfriend for dinner and chose the mall restaurant for its convenient location. Rose found the visit eye-opening. "A lot of other places I saw nearby looked nice, too," she said, adding that she now plans to return when in the vicinity to try Capital Grille or Seasons 52.
That kind of brand recognition is precisely what Joe Vetrano, president of Skinny Pizza, hopes to achieve from his eatery's mall location. "The more restaurants, the more the mall becomes a destination for people on Long Island to go and try all the different restaurants," Vetrano said.
Bringing in homegrown restaurant "chains" like La Bottega and Skinny Pizza fits in well with the mall's master plan. "We don't want it to be all nationals," said Tobin. "We want to bring in local flavor as much as possible. And we have to be ahead of trends because that's what our customers want."
Don't be surprised if a few new additions hatch in the months to come.