GOOD SURPRISES IN MELVILLE
A lucky strike, finding a creditable Vietnamese summer roll one recent afternoon at -- of all places -- a Melville bowling center.
300 Long Island is part of a nine-venue group of such centers scattered nationwide, all under the AMF banner, all serving up an identical menu.
At lunch, a friend and I found the place fairly quiet. Seated at high tables, we began with the surprisingly bright summer rolls ($10), the sheer, shiny wrappers filled with fresh cilantro, lettuce, cucumber and shrimp. Lots of crunch and freshness. A puffy-crusted broccoli and spinach pizza with pesto ($11) came off as a bit doughy and pungently garlicky. Fish tacos ($10), made with grilled tilapia and pico de gallo, would have been fine but cried out for better tomatoes. So, too, did a Cobb salad ($11) lacking one Cobb essential ingredient -- avocado.
Still, the food was much better than you'd expect at a bowling alley.
300 Long Island Grill is at 895 Walt Whitman Rd., Melville, 631-271-1180.
A NEW CONCEPT IN OCEANSIDE
Unique is the name of the restaurant now occupying the the renovated bi-level Oceanside space that once housed Umi.
Executive chef-owner Andy Yang said he spent a decade working for the Nobu Corp., opening restaurants from New York and Los Angeles to Miami and Las Vegas. Yang also was corporate chef for Nisen in Woodbury and Commack.
As for the restaurant's name, Yang said the place represents a "new concept," one that brings together several concepts under one roof. There's a raw bar, a roster of tapas and a sushi bar, as well as a list of dishes that combine French, New American and Japanese techniques.
On the menu: edamame puree soup ($6), a lobster taco from the "cold tapas" list ($16) and a trio of Kobe sliders from the "hot tapas" category ($12), a Scottish goat roll -- got to love the name of that one -- made with Scottish salmon and goat cheese ($13), and an entree of blackened wasabi Chilean sea bass ($21).
Unique is at 3451 Long Beach Rd., Oceanside, 516-442-5515.
CELEBRATION IN CALVERTON
Chef and co-owner Refugio Iglesias has an impressive non-Mexican resumé, having cooked at Manhattan dining spots such as The Harrison and Verbena. Here in Calverton, Iglesias serves the food of his native Puebla, Mexico.
On the still-evolving menu: spicy pork tacos with guacamole, chopped onion, cilantro, sliced radish and lime ($3.50 a taco or $13 for a platter of four), red tamales with pork ($3), green tamales with cheese or chicken ($3), mole poblano ($13) and flautas with carnitas ($9).
Cinco de Mayo is at 3725 Middle Country Rd., Calverton, 631-591-2474.