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The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene

This week’s restaurant reviews

Chicken limone is one of the selections at

(Credit: Maria Boyadjieva)

In this week’s Newsday, Joan Reminick reviews Cucina di Vargas in Hewlett. The eponymous chef-owner, Narciso “Bien” Vargas, spent years at the helm of Hewlett's now-departed Matteo’s, which “earned him a sizable local following. Now, at the Italian restaurant that bears his name, he proves he hasn't lost his touch.”

Peter M. Gianotti visits the revamped Rein at the Garden City Hotel. Both...

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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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Cucina di Vargas: Italian family-style in Hewlett

Clams casino and chicken limone at Cucina di

(Credit: Handout)

New to Hewlett is Cucina di Vargas, a family-style restaurant that’s run by a family. The owner of the place is Erica Vargas, the manager, her brother, Danny Vargas. The chef is their father, Narciso Vargas, who was the original chef at the former Matteo's in Hewlett.

Portions here are geared to large parties, with full orders serving 3 to 4 people and half orders meant for 2. On the menu:...

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This week's restaurant reviews

Chef Peter Curcio's chicken scarpariello, on the bone

(Credit: Barbara Alper)

The new La Cucina on Broadway in Hewlett is the new star of the Five Towns, says Peter M. Gianotti, citing its first-rate pastas, especially the bracing cavatelli with sweet sausage and tomato stew, finished with a scoop of cream ricotta.

In Deer Park, Cheap Eats critic Joan Reminick visits  Dominican Restaurant 5, a no-frills place with a steam table. The chicken soup, Reminick says,...

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La Cucina in Hewlett: First bites

Chicken scarpariello at La Cucina in Hewlett. (August

(Credit: Newsday/Peter Gianotti)

Peter Curcio knows the kitchen enough to call his restaurant La Cucina, a newcomer that's worth visiting for his flavorful take on Italian-American standards and more.

La Cucina fills a storefront space with some contemporary art and streamlined furnishings, as if to put a contemporary frame on a traditional picture. The place looks fine. The service is friendly. And the food often is very...

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La Cucina opens in Hewlett

Basil-marinated grilled jumbo shrimp with a portobello-tomato-mozzarella stack

(Credit: Handout)

La Cucina brings to Hewlett the Italian-New American repertoire of Peter Curcio, who was chef/co-owner of the former Heirloom in Locust Valley and also cooked at Corbin & Reynolds in Long Beach.

On his menu: grilled octopus ($12), basil-marinated grilled jumbo shrimp with a portobello-tomato-mozzarella stack ($23), oven-roasted rack of lamb ($28) and gnocchi with eggplant, zucchini and...

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This week’s restaurant reviews

Every diner at Ahuva's Grill receives a complimentary

(Credit: Johnny Simon)

Joan Reminick reviews Ahuva’s Grill in Hewlett, which is highly recommended “whether you observe the Jewish laws of kashrut or simply view life as one giant flavor quest. …Here, chef-owner Ahuva Tsadok ignites and soothes the palate with a compelling repertoire of Yemenite Israeli dishes.”

Peter Gianotti visits Schafer’s in Port Jefferson, a “buoyant, water-view perch” that takes over the...

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Ahuva's Grill, Hewlett: First bites

Combination appetizer platter at Ahuva's Grill in Hewlett

(Credit: Newsday Photo/Joan Reminick)

At Ahuva’s Grill, a new glatt kosher Middle Eastern restaurant in Hewlett, a recent lunch turned out to be a lively affair.

The meal began with warm pita and a gratis assortment of accompaniments that included two kinds of cabbage salad, a corn and pepper salad and the kind of chunky dill-flecked egg salad you’d want to make into a sandwich.

Two of us shared a generous combination appetizer...

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This week’s restaurant reviews

Deep-fried crabs in a spicy sauce at YAO'S

(Credit: Doug Young)

In this week's Newsday, Joan Reminick takes us to Yao’s Diner, an attractive little eatery in a Centereach strip mall that may be Long Island’s most authentic Chinese restaurant. The emphasis here is on the forceful, fragrant and fiery cuisine of the Sichuan region, though the menu also includes some more familiar Cantonese classics.

Peter Gianotti reviews Ciao Bella!, the Southern-Italian...

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Ciao Bella in Hewlett: First bites


(Credit: Charles Eckert )

Just over a year after closing in Valley Stream, Ciao Bella has reopened in Hewlett, where the restaurant  prepares robust Italian food.

The trattoria-style eatery now is next to Pantano's, the breakfast-to-dinner spot on Broadway.

Freddy Sammarone continues to send out excellent lemon chicken and spaghetti alla chitarra with tomato-and-basil sauce. You'll also enjoy the serious...

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