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10. J. MICHAELS TUSCAN STEAKHOUSE, Northport One of (Credit: Jeremy Bales)

10. J. MICHAELS TUSCAN STEAKHOUSE, Northport
One of the original chefs is gone, but the Old World-New World contrasts remain at the 19th century house that was long-occupied by La Capannina. Credit co-owner Vincent P. Michaels. The service is attentive and the fuss minimal at the big-hearted spot.

Best Fine Dining restaurants of 2012

The last time two restaurants earned four stars during 12 months in Newsday, the Berlin Wall came down, Harry met Sally and a gallon of gas was 97 cents. So, 2012 stands out for diners across Long Island, and not just for Monsoon in Babylon and Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton. The Plaza Café in Southampton was upgraded to three and a half stars. And a record nine restaurants earned three stars.

In this year of so many challenges, economic and otherwise, you could count on finding a stellar meal. Here are my Top 12 new or remade kitchens of 2012. --PETER M. GIANOTTI, peter.gianotti.com

12. ORTO, Miller Place Why: The offspring of
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

12. ORTO, Miller Place
Why: The offspring of Kitchen A Bistro and Kitchen A Trattoria, rustic, eclectic and satisfying.

12. ORTO, Miller Place Eric Lomando’s tour of
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

12. ORTO, Miller Place
Eric Lomando’s tour of Italy takes in many side trips at Orto, where the menu changes six times a week and the quality stays high. There are several niches here, in the layout and on the plate.

12. ORTO, Miller Place Recommended: a raviolo of
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

12. ORTO, Miller Place
Recommended: a raviolo of ricotta, mushroom and egg; half-moon pasta with roasted beet and goat cheese, garganelli in pork-shoulder ragu, John Dory in fennel puree, semolina-fried chicken with blue cheese and mâche, tomato-braised meatballs on polenta, tiramisu, pear crostata.
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11. THE BELL & ANCHOR, Sag Harbor Why:
(Credit: Doug Young)

11. THE BELL & ANCHOR, Sag Harbor
Why: Splashy seafood, water view, professional service, no pretense -- a happy Hamptonian.

11. THE BELL & ANCHOR, Sag Harbor The
(Credit: Doug Young)

11. THE BELL & ANCHOR, Sag Harbor
The Bell & Anchor is co-owned by chef Sam McCleland, left, and David Loewenberg, from The Beacon in downtown Sag Harbor. They and chef David Liszanckie, right, refreshed and improved the former Oasis site with seaside hues and vibrant fare.

11. THE BELL & ANCHOR, Sag Harbor Recommended:
(Credit: Doug Young)

11. THE BELL & ANCHOR, Sag Harbor
Recommended: P.B. & O, with crisp pork belly, a sweet oyster and house-made kimchee; seafood chowder, fritto misto, lobster Thermidor, fish-and-chips made with cod, tilefish with braised leeks and Moroccan-spiced quinoa, and a juicy burger.
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10. J. MICHAELS TUSCAN STEAKHOUSE, Northport A flavorful
(Credit: Jeremy Bales)

10. J. MICHAELS TUSCAN STEAKHOUSE, Northport
A flavorful combination of Long Island’s two favorites, with Italian dishes and steakhouse staples.

10. J. MICHAELS TUSCAN STEAKHOUSE, Northport One of
(Credit: Jeremy Bales)

10. J. MICHAELS TUSCAN STEAKHOUSE, Northport
One of the original chefs is gone, but the Old World-New World contrasts remain at the 19th century house that was long-occupied by La Capannina. Credit co-owner Vincent P. Michaels. The service is attentive and the fuss minimal at the big-hearted spot.

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10. J. MICHAELS TUSCAN STEAKHOUSE, Northport Recommended: shellfish
(Credit: Jeremy Bales)

10. J. MICHAELS TUSCAN STEAKHOUSE, Northport
Recommended: shellfish cocktails, cured salmon rolls with crabmeat, lobster meatballs, spaghetti and meatballs, Barolo-braised short ribs, porterhouse steak, chocolate mousse pie, cheesecake.
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9. INSIGNIA, Nesconset Why: Vegas swagger and headliner
(Credit: Randee Daddona)

9. INSIGNIA, Nesconset
Why: Vegas swagger and headliner confidence define this brassy palace of protein.

9. INSIGNIA, Nesconset All that’s missing is the
(Credit: Randee Daddona)

9. INSIGNIA, Nesconset
All that’s missing is the casino at the play-hard fun house, a send-up of excess that makes the most buoyant local steak houses seem like monasteries. Restaurateur-as-impresario Anthony Scotto also runs Blackstone Steakhouse in Melville and Rare650 in Syosset. Chef Mikhail Apelsinov turns any gamble into a sure thing.

9. INSIGNIA, Nesconset Recommended: seafood chowder, mini-Kobe burgers,
(Credit: Randee Daddona)

9. INSIGNIA, Nesconset
Recommended: seafood chowder, mini-Kobe burgers, shellfish cocktails, sushi, whole grilled fish, dry-aged steaks, cinnamon doughnuts.
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8. RIALTO, Carle Place Why: The traditional, continental
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

8. RIALTO, Carle Place
Why: The traditional, continental restaurant not only lives but thrives under new management.

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8. RIALTO, Carle PlaceMario and Tara Fuentes continue
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

8. RIALTO, Carle Place
Mario and Tara Fuentes continue the comfortable, consistent approach of Rialto. It’s warm, openhanded, soothing and, as such, refreshing. The polished dark wood, arches, artwork and background music reflect times past and to come.

8. RIALTO, Carle Place Recommended: Dover sole meunière,
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

8. RIALTO, Carle Place
Recommended: Dover sole meunière, duck a l’orange, chicken cacciatore, rack of lamb, filet mignon with green peppercorn sauce, pansotti pasta filled with minced vegetables, spaghetti alla carbonara, flan, the spongecake zuccotto, almond or hazelnut.
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7. HENDRICK'S TAVERN, Roslyn Why: George Washington Manor
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

7. HENDRICK'S TAVERN, Roslyn
Why: George Washington Manor becomes the Gold Coast’s new playground, savvy and assured.

7. HENDRICK'S TAVERN, Roslyn You could cast a
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

7. HENDRICK'S TAVERN, Roslyn
You could cast a reality TV show in line at the parking lot, waiting for the next Ferrari. But this canteen of the recession-proof goes beyond the high-decibel chatter. The sprawling newcomer from the Poll brothers, of Toku in Manhasset and neighboring Bryant & Cooper, accommodates all comers. So does chef Joseph Maulo’s sharp cooking.

7. HENDRICK'S TAVERN, Roslyn Recommended: steaks, deviled eggs,
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

7. HENDRICK'S TAVERN, Roslyn
Recommended: steaks, deviled eggs, Kobe hot dog, roasted marrow bones, spaghetti and meatballs, linguine Zsa Zsa, cheesecake.
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6. 18 BAY, Shelter Island Why: An ideal
(Credit: Randee Daddona)

6. 18 BAY, Shelter Island
Why: An ideal country restaurant thanks to its setting, ambiance and especially the food.

6. 18 BAY, Shelter Island When cozy 18
(Credit: Randee Daddona)

6. 18 BAY, Shelter Island
When cozy 18 Bay closed in Bayville, a lot of diners hoped Elizabeth Ronzetti and Adam Kopels would reopen somewhere else. Here it is, in the charming summer home of your imagination. Relax on the veranda or inside. They’ll take very good care of you with a minimalist, meticulous menu that changes regularly. (Note: Closed during the month of January.)

6. 18 BAY, Shelter Island Recommended: bluefish crudo,
(Credit: Randee Daddona)

6. 18 BAY, Shelter Island
Recommended: bluefish crudo, white-carrot sformato akin to a souffle, goat-milk ricotta cannelloni, spaghetti alla chitarra with clams, crisp-skinned black sea bass.
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5. GINZA, Massapequa Why: This illuminated temple to
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

5. GINZA, Massapequa
Why: This illuminated temple to sushi offers seafood from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market and closer sources.

5. GINZA, Massapequa Near Sunrise Mall and behind
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

5. GINZA, Massapequa
Near Sunrise Mall and behind a White Castle, Ginza jumps out as brightly as Bill Murray in “Lost in Translation.” The opulent establishment shimmers. It features life-size terra-cotta soldiers, an oversize freeze-frame of Tokyo’s Ginza district and suspended seats to suit the Jetsons -- enjoy the view.

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5. GINZA, Massapequa Recommended: all sushi and sashimi,
(Credit: Johnny Simon)

5. GINZA, Massapequa
Recommended: all sushi and sashimi, teriyaki-glazed Kobe beef meatballs, rack of lamb with wasabi-mashed potatoes, wild Pacific salmon with blood-orange miso.
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4. ROOTS BISTRO GOURMAND, West Islip Why: The
(Credit: Alessandro Vecchi)

4. ROOTS BISTRO GOURMAND, West Islip
Why: The bistro concept made contemporary, creative and irresistible.

4. ROOTS BISTRO GOURMAND, West Islip Co-owners chef
(Credit: Alessandro Vecchi)

4. ROOTS BISTRO GOURMAND, West Islip
Co-owners chef Philippe Corbet and general manager James Orlandi worked at the departed O’s in St. James. Here, they fashion a spirited laboratory for stirring food and drink, in a setting marked by a zinc bar, reclaimed wood and blackboard whimsy.

4. ROOTS BISTRO GOURMAND, West Islip Recommended: All
(Credit: Alessandro Vecchi)

4. ROOTS BISTRO GOURMAND, West Islip
Recommended: All cocktails, pressed suckling pig with caraway-lavender honey, lamb-confit ravioli with English peas, butter-poached lobster, a local-seafood bouillabaisse, pan-roasted duck breast, all desserts.
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3. THE PLAZA CAFE, Southampton Why: The best
(Credit: Doug Young)

3. THE PLAZA CAFE, Southampton
Why: The best seafood house on Long Island, period.

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3. THE PLAZA CAFE, Southampton Douglas Gulija opened
(Credit: Doug Young)

3. THE PLAZA CAFE, Southampton
Douglas Gulija opened The Plaze Café in 1997. This year, the reflective chef recharged it, renovating the look and relaxing the cuisine. The experience is new again; the unbound result, better in every way.

3. THE PLAZA CAFE, Southampton Recommended: Lobster-and-shrimp shepherd’s
(Credit: Doug Young)

3. THE PLAZA CAFE, Southampton
Recommended: Lobster-and-shrimp shepherd’s pie, the grilled swordfish “chop,” macadamia nut-crusted mahi-mahi on a pork-studded mash of plantains, zucchini flowers stuffed with shellfish mousse, lobster-and-corn chowder, strawberry shortcake, peach-raspberry crisp.
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2. TOPPING ROSE HOUSE, Bridgehampton Why: The stunning
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

2. TOPPING ROSE HOUSE, Bridgehampton
Why: The stunning transformation and reimagining of a local landmark from 1845.

2. TOPPING ROSE HOUSE, Bridgehampton Topping Rose House
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

2. TOPPING ROSE HOUSE, Bridgehampton
Topping Rose House is orchestrated by celebrity chef Tom Colicchio. The project took five years and it shows. Brilliant white, suggesting an art gallery as well as a restaurant, it’s a harvest of focal points and locavore central. The monthly menu from Colicchio and chef de cuisine Ty Kotz gives vegetables star billing.

2. TOPPING ROSE HOUSE, Bridgehampton Recommended: gnocchi with
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

2. TOPPING ROSE HOUSE, Bridgehampton
Recommended: gnocchi with red kuri squash and brown butter, spice-roasted lobster, fried oysters with chili bacon, cardamom-spiced doughnuts.
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Monsoon Steak & Sushi

A view from the second floor of Monsoon
(Credit: Doug Young)

A view from the second floor of Monsoon Steak & Sushi in Babylon (48 Deer Park Ave., 631-587-4400).

1. MONSOON, Babylon Monsoon reinvigorated dining in Babylon.
(Credit: Doug Young)

1. MONSOON, Babylon
Monsoon reinvigorated dining in Babylon. It’s the latest showcase from the Bohlsen Restaurant Group, which also operates Prime in Huntington, H20 in Smithtown, and both Tellers Chophouse and Verace in Islip. The chef is Michael Wilson, a Bohlsen veteran. And the style is as vivid as the food.

1. MONSOON, Babylon Recommended: dumplings, steamed buns, kung
(Credit: Doug Young)

1. MONSOON, Babylon
Recommended: dumplings, steamed buns, kung pao monkfish, curry crab, shaking beef, chocolate torte, cheesecake and the best Beijing duck in Nassau and Suffolk.
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