'HELL'S KITCHEN' CHAMP AT CIAO BABY
Ciao Baby of Commack and Massapequa Park now has a TV reality show celeb as its new executive chef: Heather West, season 2 winner of Fox's "Hell's Kitchen." West, a native of Port Jefferson, also cooked at Almond in Bridgehampton, the former Almondito in East Hampton and The Patio in Westhampton Beach, as well as at restaurants in Las Vegas, North Carolina and California.
Although Ciao Baby will retain the supersize portions once featured on Travel Channel's "Man v. Food," West is working on a "Baby Chow" menu for those who don't want such massive amounts. Among choices, right now, are a fried gnocchi appetizer ($9) and a crabcake with roasted corn rémoulade ($12).
She soon will be making all the restaurant's desserts, as well.
Ciao Baby is at 204 E. Jericho Tpke., Commack, 631-543-1400, and 5074 Sunrise Hwy., Massapequa Park, 516-799-5200. -- JOAN REMINICK
When Bollinger's Family Restaurant in Farmingdale closed Feb. 19, it was supposed to be for keeps. Now, the place it set to reopen Saturday. Encouraging news, since it's rare, indeed, for a restaurant to return from the dead.
Owner Joe Tonelli said he has taken on a new partner, made some staff changes and given the place a face-lift. He also has renegotiated his lease with the landlord. While he has streamlined the old menu, which he called "monstrous" in size, he still will feature the restaurant's classic BLT, which made Newsday's list of Long Island's best BLTs last year. House-made ice creams will still be a forte.
Bollinger's Family Restaurant is at 282 Main St., Farmingdale, 516-501-4990. -- JOAN REMINICK
LUCE DISHES UP SPRING IN A RAMEKIN
Last weekend marked my first 2012 visit to the North Fork and, as luck would have it, the asparagus harvest had just begun. I spied a couple of bunches at Goodale Farms in Aquebogue and snapped them up on the way to lunch at Luce & Hawkins in Jamesport -- where chef-owner Keith Luce had, apparently, been similarly inspired.
Luce billed his starter as "asparagus quiche," but it was really a custard shot through and topped with asparagus. A garnish of puff-pastry crescents added a quiche-y note, a little mound of smoked salmon caviar recapitulated the egg theme. And what eggs. They're from Luce's own chickens and they lent the custard a deep, marigold hue and startlingly rich texture. Here was a big serving of spring in a ramekin.
The rest of lunch was terrific: Luce's signature NoFo duck wings, a salad of field greens and seared scallops, a juicy burger with hot, crisp French fries. I was too full to eat dinner. Luce & Hawkins is at 400 S. Jamesport Ave., Jamesport, 631-722-2900. -- ERICA MARCUS