STILL SWIMMING IN ISLAND PARK
It had been too long since I'd eaten at Artie's South Shore Fish & Grill, the long-standing Island Park fish market and fish house whose owner, Artie Hoernig, nets some of what he sells and serves.
A recent lunch began with a generous tuna tartare ($9.95), cubes of fresh raw tuna in a Vidalia onion dressing molded over a vibrant cucumber salad.
Hoernig makes a great lobster roll ($19), the chunky lobster salad subtly perfumed with fresh tarragon and piled high on a lightly toasted and buttered brioche hot-dog roll, accompanied by addictive hand-cut sweet potato fries and mustardy coleslaw.
Keep in mind that the amenities are basic: You eat on plastic and Styrofoam plates, no credit cards.
Artie's South Shore Fish & Grill is at 4257 Austin Blvd., Island Park, 516-889-0692. -- JOAN REMINICK
Three popular dining-out choices come together at the new Chris & Tony's Restaurant & Lounge (352 Jericho Tpke., Syosset, 516-496-1011): Italian, steak and family-style. The restaurant, on the former site of Fulton & Prime and, years ago, Manero's, already is a destination for groups. Appetizers and main courses feed two or more, and recommended dishes include the hefty Kobe beef meatball, stuffed artichoke, shellfish cocktails, penne alla Tony (with chicken, shrimp and vegetables), chicken alla Ariana (thin grillings atop escarole), cheesecake.
Tres Palms, named for a popular Puerto Rican surfing spot, has a view of the Great South Bay and serves local seafood as well as land fare. It's at 16 East Ct., Babylon; 631-482-1465. -- PETER M. GIANOTTI
There's been a change for the better at Ephesus Mediterranean & Turkish Cuisine in Massapequa Park. Good as the modest-looking restaurant originally was, new chef-owner Sunda Duygun takes it to a higher level.
An assortment of cold appetizers ($11.95) included hummus, ezme (a spicy vegetable salad), a vibrant eggplant salad and garlicky baba ghanoush. Flavors were almost startling in clarity and intensity. Served alongside: warm, house-baked bread. From the oven came a pide, a pillowy oblong pastry topped with a pepper-spiked potato puree that put me in mind of a very good knish.
Grilled whole branzino was expertly seasoned and grilled, and at $17, was the equal of a $39 version I tasted recently at a trendy North Fork restaurant. Chicken shish kebab ($13.95) featured grilled cubes of moist white meat with a bulgur pilaf and grilled vegetables. Dessert was a rich and fragrant baked rice pudding ($4.25) served in a crock.
Ephesus Mediterranean & Turkish Cuisine is at 514 Park Blvd., Massapequa Park, 516-543-4258. -- JOAN REMINICK