Loved the high-quality, low-priced lunch I had at Press 195, the new Rockville Centre offshoot of a Park Slope, Brooklyn, restaurant (with a Bayside branch, as well). The handsome eatery occupies the spot where Gabrielle's used to be.

The menu (most items less than $10) features grill-pressed sandwiches as well as salads and appetizers. There's also a short list of sandwiches on - get this - a split-open knish.

Had to try one of those. I got it stuffed with grilled vegetables and melted mozzarella and found it pillowy, savory and nothing short of ingenious. A more conventional but no less appealing "hot press" sandwich (panino, actually) of prosciutto di Parma, tomato, fresh mozzarella and extra-virgin olive oil on crusty ciabatta was simple and ideal.

My pal and I made only a small dent in a big order of hand-cut Belgian fries, but it took major willpower to keep our hands off the nutty brown spears.

The place serves a variety of microbrews, eight on tap and 15 by the bottle, and offers wines by the bottle and the glass.

Press 195 is at 22 N. Park Ave., Rockville Centre, 516-536-1950, - JOAN REMINICK


When I got word that there was a timballo de melanzane (a dome-shaped macaroni pie) on the menu at the new Francesco's Pizzeria & Ristorante in Massapequa, I made it my business to get there.

The place is owned by chef Francesco Giambanco, whose father, Salvatore, owned Fabio's in Merrick and East Meadow.

The family's Sicilian roots are evident in the timballo, a dish you may remember from the movie "Big Night." This one, draped with eggplant slices, was made with penne, tomato sauce, peas and mozzarella. At $14.95, it was enough to serve at least two. And it was worth the trip.

Tender house-made gnocchi Bolognese looked oversauced but tasted lush and comforting. I was less impressed with a personal-size Margherita pizza, which, while not bad, wasn't on the same level as those pastas.

Francesco's Pizzeria & Ristorante is at 624 Broadway, Massapequa, 516-557-2933. - JOAN REMINICK


On Sunday, Food Network is holding open auditions for the second season of its reality show "24 Hour Restaurant Battle." In each episode of the show, hosted by chef Scott Conant, two-person teams have 24 hours to conceive, plan and open their own restaurants for one night. One member of the team handles "front of the house" (decor, seating, service) and the other handles "back of the house" (the kitchen).

Food Network is "looking for charismatic and outgoing two-person teams with pre-existing relationships, who have always dreamed of running their own restaurant. Applicants may have lots of restaurant experience, no restaurant experience, or some combination of both."

Interested? It's noon to 3 p.m. at the Hilton Long Island/Huntington, 598 Broadhollow Rd., Melville. - ERICA MARCUS


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