North Country Road in St. James is an appetizing stretch of Route 25A. Eateries pop up on either side, with most in the compact shopping centers between Edgewood Avenue and Hitherbrook Road. More important, the diverse group includes some of the top spots in Suffolk. Here's a taste:

KITCHEN A BISTRO

FOOD 2.5 stars

INFO 404 N. Country Rd., 631-862-0151, kitchenabistro.com/kab

COST $$-$$$

Relocated last year to this address, the former site of Mirabelle, the creative, American-style bistro stays a favorite. Winning dishes on the ever-changing menu include vegetable risotto, wine-braised short ribs, roast cod with sunchoke puree. BYO wine is an added incentive.

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KITCHEN A TRATTORIA

FOOD 3.5 stars

INFO 532 N. Country Rd., 631-862-0151, kitchenabistro.com/kab

COST $$

Imaginative Italian cooking defines this offspring of Kitchen A Bistro, which also offers seasonal menus and BYO wine policy. Some recommendations: Pork osso buco; shrimp risotto; torchio pasta with beef short rib, ginger and cocoa; seafood stew; seared white tuna with cauliflower caponata.

LOTUS EAST

FOOD 1 star

INFO 416 N. Country Rd., 631-862-6030

COST $$

There's a nostalgic quality to Lotus East, one of Long Island's veteran Chinese restaurants, in decor and cuisine. Good steamed sea bass with ginger and scallion; crisp duck and plum duck; tangerine beef; eggplant in garlic sauce. And, of course, lo mein and chow mein.

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MOSAIC

FOOD 2.5 stars

INFO 418 N. Country Rd., 631-584-2058, eatmosaic.com

COST $$$

This cozy, New American restaurant now offers a fine, five-course dinner for $54. Meticulous, refined preparations, along with attentive service. Choices have included caramelized sea scallops, two-day roasted pork shoulder, Asiago-Yukon Gold gnocchi, plus special theme dinners.

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O'S FOOD & WINE BAR

FOOD 2 stars

INFO 552 N. Country Rd., 631-584-4600, osfoodandwinebar.com

COST $$-$$$

The retooled Oscar's stylishly stands out with tapas, including skirt steak with chimichurri, strip steak sliders, smoked and pulled beef quesadillas, lamb chop "lollipops" with mint, tuna tartare. The big plates also are recommended. Ideal to go with a group.

VINTAGE PRIME STEAKHOUSE

FOOD 1 star

INFO 433 N. Country Rd., 631-862-6440

COST $$$

Porterhouse for two, T-bone, filet mignon, Kobe steak, preceded by shellfish cocktails, accompanied by creamed spinach and potatoes - yes, this is a straightforward steakhouse, with tender beef and all the essentials. Side trips: veal chop Milanese, sesame-crusted tuna.

OTHER NOTABLE RESTAURANTS

There are several other notable eateries along North Country Road, including these.

ANCIENT GINGER, 556 N. Country Rd., 631-584-8883/7171. ancient ginger.com. Mostly Chinese with a trace of Thai. COST $-$$

BELLA VITA CITY GRILL, 430 N. Country Rd., 631-862-8060. bellavitacitygrill.com. COST $$. Italian-New American combo.

FEELGOODS HEALTHY FAMILY CAFE , 412 N. Country Rd., 631-390-8545. feelgoodscafe.com. COST $-$$. Breakfast, wraps, panini, burgers, vegetarian dishes.

KIRIN HIBACHI, 556-22 N. Country Rd., 631-584-9000/9009. COST $-$$. Japanese, raw and cooked, with the hibachi show, too.

ROCCO'S PIZZA & PASTA, 429 N. Country Rd., 631-862-1600. COST $. What's in a name? Everything. Neighborhood spot.