A thing of beauty is . . . pretty good for the appetite.
Long Island restaurants come in as many looks as the dishes they serve. You can describe what's typical, what's neutral, what won't make you stop eating. But finding an eye-catcher is something else.
Of course, what you think dazzles may not be what the next person does - eye of the beholder and all that. But here are 10 that definitely are in the high-profile competition for drama, style or both, each for a different reason.
Besito , 1516 Old Northern Blvd., Roslyn, 516-484-3001
There are two Besitos on Long Island. The original opened in Huntington, its bigger offspring near the viaduct in Roslyn. Both have flair. The Roslyn spot just does it on a bigger scale, from its wall of luminarias to colorful art and artifacts. It's a reminder that Mexican restaurants don't require sombreros, piÃÂ±atas and combination plate number three. $$-$$$
Tellers Chophouse , 605 Main St., Islip, 631-277-7070
Tellers Chophouse serves its juicy steaks in a converted 1927 bank building, where wine now is cellared in the old safe. The airy, high-ceilinged main dining room is illuminated via 30-foot windows and decorated with Art Deco friezes. The look is solid as stone: a temple to beef - and to what banks looked like before they needed a government bailout. Pass the butter and the gold bar. $$$-$$$$
Jedediah's , 400 S. Jamesport Ave., Jamesport, 631-722-2900
Jedediah's is the delightful restaurant in the Jedediah Hawkins Inn, a local landmark that has been elegantly restored. The inn is an Italianate Victorian, belvedere included. And the dining room fits right in. It's a tribute to detail and attention and, like the inn, ornate but not overly so. Enjoy the time capsule, and the stirring New American cuisine. $$-$$$
Louis XVI, 600 S. Ocean Ave., Patchogue, 631-654-8970
From the fluted columns and the marble floors to the opulent chandeliers and abundant bouquets, Louis XVI gives you the royal treatment, plus an unobstructed view of Great South Bay. If you're devoted to restraint, Louis XVI isn't for you. But the extravagance and sense of whimsy can be very appealing. And it's the best traditional French restaurant on Long Island. $$$
Polo , 45 Seventh St., Garden City, 516-877-9353
With its Ralph Lauren name and 24-karat address, Polo naturally exudes luxe. It's the classic, old-fashioned, Old Money experience, loaded with dark wood, lush fabrics and very polite artwork. That contrasts a bit with the often creative New American cuisine. But overall, tradition reigns. You feel as if you should pay the tab with Silver Certificates. $$$-$$$$
Rothmann's , 6319 Northern Blvd., East Norwich, 516-922-2500
The original Rothmann's opened here in 1907, part-tavern, part-eatery, all hospitable. It has undergone a few lives since then, including the Burt Bacharach era. Now, its series of rooms is unified by an earth-tone color scheme and vintage photos, dark wood and a light touch: clubbiness updated, with a curved bar. The prime attraction, however, is a top steakhouse. $$$
Stone Creek Inn , 405 Montauk Hwy., East Quogue, 631-653-6770
A study in white, the Stone Creek Inn almost glimmers in sunlight. This was a residence in the early 20th century. The retooling and refurbishing have yielded an elegant restaurant, with a look that deftly balances the traditional and the contemporary. It's warm and cool at the same time. The service is smooth and the Mediterranean cuisine, with French accents, is excellent. $$$
Toku , 2014 Northern Blvd., Manhasset, 516-627-7121
Situated in the Americana shopping center, you expect Toku to be, well, rich. But its lavishness is cool and soothing, from the shimmering, chain-mail curtain at the entrance to the onyx sushi bar, skylight, woodwork, and the grand, wooden monastery bells that quietly announce an address transformed. And the vivid Asian cuisine is just as inviting. $$$-$$$$
Nisen Sushi , 7969 Jericho Tpke., Woodbury, 516-496-7000
Nisen Sushi delivers drama, from a bold entryway with fabric-draped arches and beaded metal decoration to serene tatami rooms. No one involved in this project could have advocated aesthetic uniformity or consistency. And that's part of the appeal. Nisen Sushi plays with your senses. While doing so, the eatery also sends out very good New American takes on Japanese cuisine. $$-$$$
Prime , 117 New York Ave., Huntington, 631-385-1515
Here's a boathouse design of yacht-worthy proportions, starting with the sandstone steps, through the mahogany doors, under chandeliers fashioned from French oak wine barrels, leading to a great view of Huntington Harbor. Prime is a handsome outburst of colors and textures, in its decor, art and New American cooking. $$$-$$$$