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The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene

Cucina di Vargas, Hewlett: First bites

The chopped Italian salad at Cucina di Vargas

(Credit: Newsday Joan Reminick)

The new Cucina di Vargas enlivens the Five Towns dining scene with a brand of family-style Italian dining that's big on both quality and value.

At dinner recently, one taste of chef Narciso Vargas' crisp, nutty, highly addictive fried zucchini ($8.95) was followed by another and then another.  A half order of the shards was enough for four. So, too, was a half order of the very good chopped...

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Grilled cheese: Hard to kill

Even a cafeteria grilled cheese makes a satisfying

(Credit: Newsday Erica Marcus)

It's National Grilled Cheese Day and we've already highlighted some of Long Island's very best examples.

Now, here’s the thing about grilled cheese sandwiches. On the high end, they can sometimes crash on the shoals of their highfalutin ambitions, but on the low end, there’s no such thing as a bad grilled cheese.

Take my lunch today, made in our cafeteria. The guy behind the counter...

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The Clam Bar in Amagansett returns for another season

Celebrate the coming summer at the Clam Bar

(Credit: File / Ellen Watson)

A sign that summer is almost here is the reopening of The Clam Bar at Napeague in Amagansett. The roadside stand, known for its clams (on the half shell or fried), clam chowder, lobster rolls and the like, is now open Friday to Sunday, weather permitting. Today is out of the question.

Tomorrow and Sunday, though, have sunny forecasts. Which means that a fried clam roll might  shortly...

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This week’s restaurant reviews

The dining room at Tellers in Islip soars

(Credit: Doug Young)

In this week’s Newsday, Peter Gianotti revisits Tellers, which opened in 1999 in the grand edifice that originally housed the First National Bank of Islip. Executive chef Edward Villatoro, he writes, “is the new reason to invest in Tellers.” Steakhouse standards are uniformly fine, but so too are pea-mushroom-brisket risotto, veal tortellini carbonara, house-cured bacon and scene-stealing desserts....

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Cuban Crocodile in Long Beach closes

Cuban Crocodile in Long Beach was known for

(Credit: Johnny Simon)

Cuban Crocodile in Long Beach, which reopened at its East Park Avenue address about a month after being damaged by superstorm Sandy, has now shut down permanently.

Chef-owner Marivi Wolfe attributes the closing to post-Sandy landlord issues. She added that she is scouting a new location.

Cuban Crocodile earned a two-star rating last May for such dishes as flaky beef empanadas, succulent...

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Weekend picks: Dining near Patchogue Theatre

An appetizer of curry puffs filled with diced

(Credit: Doug Young)

It's young talent on stage Sunday at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts. Twenty-six children, 8 to 18 years old, are scheduled to participate in the variety show for cash prizes.

The production goes on at 7 p.m. Sunday at the theater, 71 E. Main St. Admission is $9 to $25. For additional information: 631-207-1313; patchoguetheatre.com

While you're in the neighborhood, you...

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Cook's Scratch Kitchen & Bakery opens in Northport

The new Cook's Scratch Kitchen & Bakery in

(Credit: Newsday Joan Reminick)

Two brothers, Josh and Dave Cook, are the co-owners of the new Cook’s Scratch Kitchen & Bakery, which replaces 1014 Coffee House in Northport. Josh Cook said the place is both a cafe and bakery that serves breakfast and lunch. Just about everything served is made “from scratch.” 

At the new Northport eatery, eggs and poultry are sourced from Raleigh's Poultry Farm in Kings Park. Chef...

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National Grilled Cheese Day: Where to celebrate

A grilled cheese sandwich at The Classic American

(Credit: Heather Walsh, 2011)

The darling of the toddler set (and the adults they eventually grow up to be), grilled cheese has its own special day. What, you didn’t know National Grilled Cheese Day was April 12? Rather than kicking yourself, take comfort in some of our favorite local grilled cheese sandwiches: ROAST SANDWICH HOUSE, 827 Walt Whitman Rd., Melville, 631-629-4869, roastsandwichhouse.com. Don’t even think about...

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Kosher BBQ in Westbury: Call for entries

The Mob, a team from Congregation Ohav Sholom

(Credit: Handout)

The second Long Island Kosher BBQ Championship takes place on Sunday, June 9,  at Temple Beth Torah in Westbury, and the deadline for team entries is April 15. Teams will compete for best brisket, best beef ribs, best chicken (new category), best beans, best booth decoration and most original team name.

Because it’s kosher, the competition, sponsored by Fairway Markets, runs a bit differently...

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Jack Halyards in Oyster Bay: First bites

Grilled swordfish with avocado relish and citrus vinaigrette

(Credit: Newsday Peter Gianotti)

New executive chef John Brill is livening up the cuisine at Jack Halyards in Oyster Bay.

Brill, much-praised for his work at  Four Food Studio in Melville and the departed Blue Lagoon in West Babylon, sends out  some very good seafood and does equally well with homey American dishes.

Try the grilled Atlantic swordfish finished with avocado relish and a citrus vinaigrette. Or...

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