In a year crowded with new restaurants and more than one

belt of Bromo, it's good to remember the best.

New spots for steak include Prime in Huntington, Onyx in Williston Park,

Blue in Blue Point, and The Lodge in East Hampton, which took over the address

of Leif Hope's. The early exit of Lori marked the revival of the 75 Main name

in Southampton.

Besito in Huntington elevated Mexican cuisine this year, and Wei Fun in

East Hampton came to the rescue for fans of Chinese cooking. Anyone missing

Lepanto's Greek fare could find that and more at Trata East in Water Mill. Here

are my Top 10 of 2006 - the year of the butter-poached lobster.

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Blue Sky Bistro, 366 Hempstead Tpke., Malverne; 516-599-9002.

In a little strip dominated by a pizzeria, Chinese takeout, a bank and a

movie house, Blue Sky Bistro shines. The lively new American cooking of

chef-owner Richard Reilly includes grilled tuna puttanesca, pan-seared striped

bass with a shaved fennel salad, pan-seared pork chop with spiced apple confit,

and dry-aged sirloin steak.

Emerson's, 69 Deer Park Ave., Babylon; 631-669-2333. About 50 diners fit

into Emerson's, an American restaurant with a French accent from chef-owner

Pierre Rougey. Consider the pea soup, avocado-and-crab salad, short ribs and

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grits, pork filet mignon with plums, seared halibut with artichoke stew, crab

cakes, flourless molten chocolate cake.

Jedediah's, 400 S. Jamesport Ave., Jamesport; 631-722-2900.

In the handsomely restored Jedediah Hawkins Inn, peripatetic chef Tom

Schaudel runs a creative, eclectic restaurant. The building is 1863, the food

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today. A sampler: butter-poached lobster with chanterelles, pan-seared

swordfish in tomato-fennel broth, gnocchi in spicy sausage ragout, blackberry

shortcake, goat cheese-and-ginger tart.

The Lake House, 240 W. Main St., Bay Shore; 631-666-0995.

Excellent American cooking defines The Lake House. Chef Matthew Connors,

who owns the restaurant with his wife and maitresse d' Eileen, and sous-chef

Charles Treadwell offer consistently inviting food in a cozy spot that backs

onto Lawrence Lake. Standouts: littleneck clam chowder, butter-poached lobster,

wild striped bass in "bouillabaisse" broth, banana bread pudding.

The Laundry, 341 Pantigo Rd., East Hampton; 631-324-3199.

Relocated and reborn, The Laundry was the summer's Hamptonian hot spot.

Chef Andrew Engle's popular dishes go from a reliable hamburger and fries to a

superb grilled sirloin; diver sea scallops with polenta, crisp capers and lemon

confit to baby-back ribs. And there's addictive bittersweet chocolate pudding.

Luigi Q, 400 S. Oyster Bay Rd., Hicksville; 516-932-7450.

A soulful and generous Italian restaurant from the ever-present Luigi

Quarta. Bright, authentic, enticing. The specialties include a deluxe seafood

salad, terrific antipasti, fusilli all'Amatriciana, airy gnocchi, peppered pork

tenderloin, calf's liver alla Veneziana, and an updated veal alla Parmigiana.

Mosaic, 418 N. Country Rd., St. James; 631-584-2058.

A small place made up of many parts, this 30-seater is a parade of

contemporary delights from chefs Jonathan Contes and Tate Morris. Notable: a

four-way tasting of duck, turkey stuffing soup, sea scallops with pumpkin curry

in parchment, grilled rib-eye steak capped with Gorgonzola, and "cheesecake

deconstructed."

The North Fork Table & Inn, 57225 Main Rd. (Route 25), Southold;

631-765-0177.

Gerard Hayden and Claudia Fleming, culinary stars from Manhattan,

contribute to the transformation of North Fork dining at this refreshed and

reborn place. Highlights: butter-poached lobster, Berkshire pork tenderloin and

bacon, garlic-infused chicken, potato-leek soup, peach cobbler, buttermilk

panna cotta.

Novita, 860 Franklin Ave., Garden City; 516-739-7660.

Sleek and sharp, Novita seems part send-up, part serious in its evocation

of Eurochic. Chef Ed Davis' Italian dishes are full-flavored and satisfying.

Look for the swordfish "chop" atop polenta, saltimbocca made with monkfish,

rigatoni in a vivid ragout, bucatini alla carbonara, rack of lamb, and

addictive zeppoles.

Prime, 117 New York Ave., Huntington; 631-385-1515.

A big, bold restaurant with excellent new American cuisine, under chef

Richard Farnabe. The waterside establishment bursts with substance and style.

Recommended: Scottish langoustines, lobster bisque, wild mushroom risotto,

Dover sole, cr�me br�l�e Napoleon.