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KUSHI JAPANESE FUSION, Neconset The duck tortilla, bringing (Credit: Randee Daddona)

KUSHI JAPANESE FUSION, Neconset

The duck tortilla, bringing to mind Peking duck, is a standout.

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Best Cheap Eats reviews of 2012

Every week, food critic Joan Reminick reviews a different new restaurant. Here are her favorites of the year.

KUSHI JAPANESE FUSION, Neconset We say: Chef and
(Credit: Randee Daddona)

KUSHI JAPANESE FUSION, Neconset

We say: Chef and co-owner Eric Wu (left) is a raw-fish craftsman -- cutting, rolling and plating with artistry and elan.

See the review.

KUSHI JAPANESE FUSION, Neconset The duck tortilla, bringing
(Credit: Randee Daddona)

KUSHI JAPANESE FUSION, Neconset

The duck tortilla, bringing to mind Peking duck, is a standout.

See more photos.

PRETTY TONI'S CAFE, Valley Stream We say: Chef
(Credit: Alessandro Vecchi)

PRETTY TONI'S CAFE, Valley Stream

We say: Chef and co-owner Toni Clifton is a woman who cooks with passion, heart and skill. Her somewhat nontraditional version of soul food avoids pork products and large quantities of fat and sugar, yet its comfort factor runs high.

See the review.

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PRETTY TONI'S CAFE, Valley StreamThe delectable fried chicken
(Credit: Alessandro Vecchi)

PRETTY TONI'S CAFE, Valley Stream

The delectable fried chicken with red velvet waffles.

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BISCUITS & BARBEQUE, Mineola We say: Tucked inside
(Credit: Alessandro Vecchi)

BISCUITS & BARBEQUE, Mineola

We say: Tucked inside a 1940s railroad-car diner is some of the most satisfying Louisiana-style food in these parts.

See the review.

BISCUITS & BARBEQUE, MineolaThe catfish is a thick
(Credit: Alessandro Vecchi)

BISCUITS & BARBEQUE, Mineola

The catfish is a thick slab of blackened fish.

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PHAYATHAI, Lake Ronkonkoma We say: The reason behind
(Credit: Alessandro Vecchi)

PHAYATHAI, Lake Ronkonkoma

We say: The reason behind our ardor becomes clear with the first spoonful of chef-owner Veerawat Satsri's tom yum goong, the classic Thai shrimp hot and sour soup that's both ringing hot and rife with subtleties.

See the review.

PHAYATHAI, Lake Ronkonkoma Phayathai's tom kha gai --
(Credit: Alessandro Vecchi)

PHAYATHAI, Lake Ronkonkoma

Phayathai's tom kha gai -- chicken coconut soup -- has a sly electric undercurrent all its own.

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DAISHO OF JAPAN, Huntington We say: With the
(Credit: Adrian J. Fusssell)

DAISHO OF JAPAN, Huntington

We say: With the birth of Daisho of Japan in Huntington, the ramen-yakitori phenom lands on Long Island.

See the review.

DAISHO OF JAPAN, Huntington Daisho's pork ramen noodle
(Credit: Adrian J. Fusssell)

DAISHO OF JAPAN, Huntington

Daisho's pork ramen noodle soup is flavorful and rich, the noodles fresh and pliant. Also in the bowl are bean sprouts, cabbage and a hard-cooked egg.

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FANCY LEE, BabylonWe say: Dramatic lighting and sleek,
(Credit: Jeremy Bales)

FANCY LEE, Babylon

We say: Dramatic lighting and sleek, polished surfaces notwithstanding, Fancy Lee remains, at heart, a friendly neighborhood gathering spot. Here, a crack team of sushi chefs turns out a colorful array of raw fish creations.

See the review.

FANCY LEE, BabylonThe
(Credit: Jeremy Bales)

FANCY LEE, Babylon

The "ganga style" duck roll is a knockout: A flaky pancake, or roti, enfolds roasted duck and is drizzled with hoisin and spicy rémoulade.

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THE GOOD LIFE, Massapequa Park We say:A reproduction
(Credit: Alessandro Vecchi)

THE GOOD LIFE, Massapequa Park

We say:A reproduction of a red English phone booth guards the entryway of this gastro pub, signaling the presence of such British classics as fish and chips and shepherd's pie.

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THE GOOD LIFE, Massapequa Parkmac & cheese includes
(Credit: Alessandro Vecchi)

THE GOOD LIFE, Massapequa Park

mac & cheese includes a panko-English cheddar crust.

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HAVEN GRILL, Port Washington We say: At his
(Credit: Alessandro Vecchi)

HAVEN GRILL, Port Washington

We say: At his sprawling, grill-centric restaurant in Port Washington, Elio Sobrero offers a relatively healthy menu -- only to seduce you at the end with the kind of sweets he's built a reputation on.

Read the review.

HAVEN GRILL, Port Washington Among chef Elio Sobrero's
(Credit: Alessandro Vecchi)

HAVEN GRILL, Port Washington

Among chef Elio Sobrero's superb finales is a creation called chocolate velvet: a blend of bittersweet chocolate, eggs, whipped cream, rum and amaretto cookies molded together with thinly sliced pound cake.

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HOSHI SUSHI & HIBACHI, Patchogue We say: Talk
(Credit: Heather Walsh)

HOSHI SUSHI & HIBACHI, Patchogue

We say: Talk about fushion fare, with fresh and pretty sushi and rolls, a hibachi chef's knife-clanging food-flinging performance and a superstar tofu teriyaki.

Read the review.

HOSHI SUSHI & HIBACHI, PatchogueThe crazy roll: lightly
(Credit: Heather Walsh)

HOSHI SUSHI & HIBACHI, Patchogue

The crazy roll: lightly seared black pepper tuna with avocado, tempura flakes and spicy tuna.

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TAO, SyossetWe say: Given Long Island's dwindling collection
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

TAO, Syosset

We say: Given Long Island's dwindling collection of old-school Chinese restaurants, there's comfort to be taken in the opening of Tao.

Read the review.

TAO, SeldenKung pao chicken, made with dark meat,
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

TAO, Selden

Kung pao chicken, made with dark meat, is fiery and rife with peanuts, a memorable version of this familiar dish

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STUDIO GRILLE, SeldenWe say: Studio Grille makes a
(Credit: Doug Young)

STUDIO GRILLE, Selden

We say: Studio Grille makes a striking appearance: lofty industrial-style ceilings, coppery walls and dramatic lighting. The underlying surprise is that you can eat very well for lots less than the decor would have you imagine.

Read the review.

STUDIO GRILLE, SeldenSteamed shrimp dumplings are prepared with
(Credit: Doug Young)

STUDIO GRILLE, Selden

Steamed shrimp dumplings are prepared with shrimp, pork, shitake mushrooms and a ponzu dipping sauce.

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CHICHIMECAS, Farmingdale We say: Of the countless restaurants
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

CHICHIMECAS, Farmingdale

We say: Of the countless restaurants that have pulled in and out of the bi-level space near the Farmingdale LIRR tracks, Chichimecas may prove to be the keeper. One reason is the track record of owners Alejandro (Alex) and Maria González, who have made their two Huntington restaurants -- Oaxaca and Quetzalcoatl -- destinations for authentic Mexican fare. A spoonful of Alex González' heady, homey pozole, or pork and hominy soup, bespeaks his skill as executive chef.

Read the review.

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CHICHIMECAS, FarmingdalePulled pork is smoked on the premises.See
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

CHICHIMECAS, Farmingdale

Pulled pork is smoked on the premises.

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SICILIA RESTAURANT, LevittownWe say: Dominican-born chef Daniel De
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

SICILIA RESTAURANT, Levittown

We say: Dominican-born chef Daniel De Jesus cooks like a born Sicilian. Some of his recipes come from co-owner Domenic Giampino's Sicilian mother; others are simply well researched.

Read the review.

SICILIA RESTAURANT, LevittownThe arancini, fried rice balls with
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

SICILIA RESTAURANT, Levittown

The arancini, fried rice balls with a beef filling.

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AHUVA'S GRILL, HewlettWe say: Chef-owner Ahuva Tsadok ignites
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

AHUVA'S GRILL, Hewlett

We say: Chef-owner Ahuva Tsadok ignites and soothes the palate with a compelling repertoire of Yemenite Israeli dishes.

Read the review.

AHUVA'S GRILL, Hewlett The appetizer platter features freshly
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

AHUVA'S GRILL, Hewlett

The appetizer platter features freshly cooked falafel, tabouli, Turkish salad, hummus and babaganoush, all served with a side of traditional lafah bread.

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SUSHI KO, Merrick We say: No question, chef-owner
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

SUSHI KO, Merrick

We say: No question, chef-owner James Wang has respect for the sea's bounty. And while some of Wang's maki rolls may appear a bit ornate, they almost invariably come together well.

Read the review.

SUSHI KO, Merrick The hot white dragon roll,
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

SUSHI KO, Merrick

The hot white dragon roll, with escolar, jalapeño, seaweed salad, seared yellowtail and chili powder.

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THE PHOENIX, Seaford We say: In a red
(Credit: Steven Sunshine)

THE PHOENIX, Seaford

We say: In a red and black space that evokes a retro rock club, the high caliber of cuisine may come as something of a surprise.

Read the review.

THE PHOENIX, Seaford Spicy peanut soup, made with
(Credit: Steven Sunshine)

THE PHOENIX, Seaford

Spicy peanut soup, made with jalapeno grape salsa and garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds and crispy sweet potato.

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YAO'S DINER, CentereachWe say: Hardly a diner, Adam
(Credit: Doug Young)

YAO'S DINER, Centereach

We say: Hardly a diner, Adam Yao's is an attractive little eatery whose kitchen is commanded by a family friend from Beijing, Guo Jhang, a chef whose culinary style is decidedly Sichuan.

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YAO'S DINER, CentereachDeep-fried crabs in a spicy sauce.
(Credit: Doug Young)

YAO'S DINER, Centereach

Deep-fried crabs in a spicy sauce.

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CABO FRESH, Stony Brook We say: The operative
(Credit: Doug Young)

CABO FRESH, Stony Brook

We say: The operative word here is "fresh," with almost everything made on premises and from scratch.

Read the review.

CABO FRESH, Stony BrookA Baja bowl with fire-grilled
(Credit: Doug Young)

CABO FRESH, Stony Brook

A Baja bowl with fire-grilled chicken, served in a eco-friendly bowl.

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TORO PAZZO, Wantagh We say: Chef Rene Collado
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

TORO PAZZO, Wantagh

We say: Chef Rene Collado hails from the Dominican Republic but demonstrates that one doesn't have to be a born Italian to cook it convincingly.

Read the review.

TORO PAZZO, Wantagh Pollo al Toro Pazzo, roast
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

TORO PAZZO, Wantagh

Pollo al Toro Pazzo, roast chicken with peppers, hot Italian sausage and roasted peppers.

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CHAN'S SUSHI AND TERIYAKI, Lake RonkonkomaWe say: Don't
(Credit: Albert J. Orlando)

CHAN'S SUSHI AND TERIYAKI, Lake Ronkonkoma

We say: Don't let the strip mall exterior dissuade you. Inside, it's all about stylish serenity, with contemporary wood furnishings and burnished tiles in a neutral colors. And then there's the food.

Read the review.

CHAN'S SUSHI AND TERIYAKI, Lake RonkonkomaPeppered tuna tataki
(Credit: Albert J. Orlando)

CHAN'S SUSHI AND TERIYAKI, Lake Ronkonkoma

Peppered tuna tataki and the sushi deluxe combo.

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TEN 89 NOODLE HOUSE, Stony Brook We say:
(Credit: Doug Young)

TEN 89 NOODLE HOUSE, Stony Brook

We say: So near Stony Brook University it's practically on campus, the big reward here takes the form of noodle soups.

Read the review.

TEN 89 NOODLE HOUSE, Stony Brook Braised beef
(Credit: Doug Young)

TEN 89 NOODLE HOUSE, Stony Brook

Braised beef noodle soup.

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CUBAN CROCODILE, Long Beach We say: American-born Marivi
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

CUBAN CROCODILE, Long Beach

We say: American-born Marivi Wolfe cooks the food of her native Cuban family, a cuisine she grew up eating and translates successfully in dishes including empanadas, shrimp in garlic sauce and pernil asado, or slow-roasted pork shoulder.

Read the review.

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CUBAN CROCODILE, Long Beach The red snapper and
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

CUBAN CROCODILE, Long Beach

The red snapper and shrimp seviche, served with fried plantain chips.

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SOUTHERN SPICE, New Hyde ParkWe say: Sridhar Rathinam's
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

SOUTHERN SPICE, New Hyde Park

We say: Sridhar Rathinam's regional Chettinad cookery, as fiery as it is nuanced, can spark even the most sophisticated palate.

Read the review.

SOUTHERN SPICE, New Hyde Park Tandoori duck breast.
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

SOUTHERN SPICE, New Hyde Park

Tandoori duck breast.

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P.S. BURGERS, Mineola We say: Despite its name,
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

P.S. BURGERS, Mineola

We say: Despite its name, this is a place where co-owners Carmelo Sapuppo, left, and Fabricio Strambeck make burgers the focus rather than a postscript.

Read the review.

P.S. BURGERS, Mineola The Paris burger is served
(Credit: Yana Paskova)

P.S. BURGERS, Mineola

The Paris burger is served on a pretzel roll.

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PORTO FINO RISTORANTE, HuntingtonWe say: It's a winning
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

PORTO FINO RISTORANTE, Huntington

We say: It's a winning formula: Part pizzeria, part trattoria , plus a warm crew and good, hearty food that's priced to please.

Read the review.

PORTO FINO RISTORANTE, HuntingtonShrimp oreganata.See more photos.
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

PORTO FINO RISTORANTE, Huntington

Shrimp oreganata.

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