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Key spots to hear piano music on Long Island

Joe Ferrante, right, plays the piano for an

Joe Ferrante, right, plays the piano for an audience at the Black Forest Brew Haus, in Farmingdale, during one of its popular "Dueling Piano" nights. Ferrante has been performing at Black Forest for the past 10 years. (Nov. 4, 2011) Credit: Daniel Brennan

Billy Joel isn't the only piano man on Long Island. For that matter, you can bet there are a few piano women making the rounds at various local nightspots from piano bars to eateries.

And nothing makes a delicious dinner or a shaken not stirred cocktail go down smoother than some cool jazz or a musical standard played on a Steinway or one of its relatives.

If that strikes a chord with you, then here are some key spots to enjoy great piano music.

Dueling Pianos

WHEN | WHERE Friday and Nov. 18, 9:30 p.m., Black Forest Brew Haus, 2015 New Hwy., Farmingdale (Dueling Pianos restarts Fridays in January)

INFO 631-391-9500, blackforestbrewhaus.com

HOW MUCH $6 cover

The ivories get tickled, but it's the customers who'll be laughing at the antics at Dueling Pianos, a popular Friday night diversion at Black Forest Brew Haus in Farmingdale. Two piano players take the stage in the bar area, where they perform for the crowd, take requests and find creative ways to encourage audience participation.

"They sing songs like 'Hello, Dolly!' and they also do things like 'Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes,' but an adult version," says Maria Frattetta, a hostess at the restaurant. "There's usually a lot of laughter, especially with something like 'Head and Shoulders' when someone does it the wrong way."

Frattetta says the Dueling Pianos crowd usually ranges from ages 21 to 60, many of whom come for dinner than stick around for the piano antics. Seating at Dueling Pianos is limited, so reservations are recommended.

A play and piano play

WHERE John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport

INFO 631-261-2900, johnwengemantheater.com

If you like standards and show tunes in a true piano bar setting, the Engeman lounge is just the ticket.

"The lounge used to be an old concession stand, so when we renovated the theater, we thought having the lounge would be a nice way to ease into coming into the show," says Kevin O'Neill, executive producer.

Theatergoers can enjoy cocktails and hors d'oeuvres to the sound of the Engeman pianist before the show and at intermission, and then the lounge opens up to the public after the cast takes their curtain call. And if there's a musical, don't be surprised if a cast member or two comes out for an encore.

"Occasionally cast members will come out and sing along at the piano, and sometimes customers may join in," O'Neill says. "It's just a nice complement to our shows."

Dinner and a piano

WHERE Grasso's, 134 Main St., Cold Spring Harbor

INFO 631-367-6060, grassosrestaurant.com

When Gail Grasso opened Grasso's restaurant in Cold Spring Harbor 17 years ago, she knew a piano had to be part of the decor.

"There was a place called Sonny's Place that had great jazz, and, when they closed, I knew I wanted to bring jazz to Long Island," she says.

So music has been as much a part of dining at Grasso's as pasta and risotto. And if piano isn't enough on Grasso's plate, jazz combos (piano included) perform during dinner Wednesday through Saturday nights (usually starting at 7 or 7:30) and for Sunday brunch (at noon).

"When people are having their dinner, the music isn't overly loud, but when the band gets to the last sets of the evening, that's when they let loose," Grasso says. "And soon people are up dancing."

Reader pick

Crescent Beach Club

333 Bayville Ave., Bayville

516-628-3330, thecrescentbeachclub.com

It may be fall, but the piano is tuned up all year long at The Crescent Beach Club in Bayville. The club's Pine Island Grill features live entertainment Friday nights from 7 to 11 p.m., where pianist Robert Lepley plays the tunes and vocalists perform for your dining pleasure.

SUBMITTED BY Al Cardillo, Mineola

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