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TOPPING ROSE: FIRST BITES

Tom Colicchio, celebrity toque behind the Craft restaurant empire and TV's "Top Chef," brings his star power and talent to the new Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton.

It's a great show, visually and edibly, in the look and on the plate. Immediately, Topping Rose House is a must-see, must-eat restaurant. The grand, white, 1842 Greek Revival building, formerly a private home, an inn and antiques center, has been stunningly transformed and re-imagined.

Colicchio and chef de cuisine Ty Kotz stress the seasonal here, turning the place into locavore central, highlighting the East End's farms and purveyors.

Their menu changes monthly. The October surprises, tasted at a recent dinner, are led by delicious sweet-corn agnolotti; fiery bucatini with clams, parsley and chilies; an upscale-homey autumn vegetable ragout with nickels of bone marrow and a poached organic farm egg; and a singular spice-roasted lobster with braised onions, saffron and fennel.

Pastry chef Cassandra Shupp's hits include a lush, warm chocolate tart with ricotta ice cream and roasted fig; a playful pear-and-cream cheese parfait; and refreshing, all-seasons cocoa-nib granita. Figure $100 to $150 a person.

Topping Rose House, 1 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Tpke., Bridgehampton; 631-537-0870. -- PETER M. GIANOTTI


MALL STEAK SPOT

The Capital Grille at Roosevelt Field already is as jammed as the mall during holiday season. This restaurant, part of a 48-branch chain, specializes in steak (very good) and seafood (often better), in a setting marked by horsy and fox-hunt paintings, deer heads, portraits that take in Charles Lindbergh for a local angle and Jackie Kennedy for style.

First tastes: fine lobster-and-crab cakes; a juicy, bone-in, dry-aged Kona-coffee- crusted sirloin; thick and moist grilled swordfish with lemon-shallot relish; and crisp Parmesan-and-truffle oiled fries. Figure $75 to $100 a person for dinner.

The Capital Grille, 630 Old Country Rd., Garden City, 516-746-1675. -- PETER M. GIANOTTI


HOMEMADE TURKISH FARE

Tucked away in a modest Centereach strip mall, its exterior sign reading merely "Gyro," Istanbul Cafe gives little hint of the culinary trip within.

A recent dinner began with an assortment of meze ($12.50), all resonantly flavorful: three kinds of eggplant salads, hummus, ezme (a spicy vegetable dip), served with house-made bread. "Everything, we make here," the waitress said proudly. A spinach pide (like a Turkish stuffed pizza) proved irresistible. So, too, an entree of vegetable moussaka ($13.95), thinly sliced eggplant and other vegetables topped with a light, custardy béchamel. Every component of a mixed grill ($17.95) -- a lamb chop, chicken Adana kebab, chicken shish kebab, house-made gyro and lamb shish kebab -- was juicy and hyper-savory.

Istanbul Cafe is at 2139 Middle Country Rd., Centereach, 631-738-6704. -- JOAN REMINICK

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