Here are Newsday’s top 10 Mediterranean restaurants for 2018.
Note: Most dishes mentioned are samples of the restaurants’ menus and may not be available at all times. Seasonal changes and dish substitutions are common.
Ahuva's Grill Express
Ahuva's Grill Express (480 Rockaway Tpke., Lawrence): At Ahuva's, shawarma is done Israeli-style: You have your choice of either chicken (dark meat) or turkey layered with lamb trimmings. Both are seasoned with a proprietary blend of aromatic spices that owe a lot to owner Avi Tsadok's mother's Yemenite heritage. While your meat is being sliced and inserted into a pita or fresh baguette or onto a platter with salad, rice or fries, head to the salad bar for your fill of cumin-scented Moroccan carrot salad, deep-fried jalapeños, beets with red and green peppers, pickled cabbage or whatever cold dishes the kitchen has been inspired to make. It's free with the shawarma. Kosher supervision: Vaad HaKashrus of the Five Towns and Far Rockaway. More info: 516-239-0110, ahuvasgrill.com/ahuvas-grill-express
Baby chicken shawarma in a laffa and turkey/lamb shawarma in a pita are served with French fries, sauces, cloeslaw, red raddish and hot pepper at Ahuva's Grill Express in Lawrence.
The Cottage by Colbeh
The Cottage by Colbeh (1 The Intervale, Roslyn Estates): Ten years into its tenure in Roslyn Estates, the Persian restaurant Colbeh got a makeover in 2016. The fusty décor was replaced by robin's-egg-blue walls, a reclaimed wood bar, glossy white trim and contemporary lighting. The menu still features traditional Persian salads, kebabs and stews, but also boasts such modern appetizers as boneless short ribs with Yukon Gold potato pancakes and horseradish cream, and duck taco with enoki mushrooms and daikon radish in a sweet-potato shell. Your party can dine like kings with the sultan's plate, heaving with three savory kebabs, onions and grilled tomatoes and served with two types of fragrant steamed rice. Kosher supervision: Vaad Harabonim of Queens. More info: 516-621-2200, colbeh.com
Olivieh salad, a traditional Persian appetizer with potato, chicken, egg, peas, and pickle, served at The Cottage by Colbeh in Roslyn.
Elaia Estiatorio (95 School St., Bridgehampton): This stylish newcomer tweaks the Greek classics with Hamptons flair, avoiding cliches and emphasizing freshness. Owners Sofia Crokos and Chris Boudouris named their rustic-chic restaurant after the olive whose oil anoints so many of the dishes here: tender, meaty grilled octopus, accented with fava beans and pickled vegetables; whole, local black bass accompanied by dandelion greens; kakavia, a seafood stew with orzo and tomato sauce with a note of ouzo; leg of lamb, cooked slowly in parchment with potatoes, carrots and shallots, falls tenderly off the rosemary-speared bone. Do not skip dessert. More info: 631-613-6469, elaiaestiatorio.com
Arni Kleftiko, slow-cooked lamb leg in parchment paper, Ladotyri Mytillnis cheese, herbs, roasted potatoes, carrots and shallots, as served at Elaia Estiatorio in Bridgehampton.
Ephesus Mediterranean & Turkish Cuisine
Ephesus Mediterranean & Turkish Cuisine (514 Park Blvd., Massapequa Park): It sounds like a cliché, but dining at Ephesus really is like being a guest in chef-owner Funda Duygun's home. The warmth of the surroundings is only exceeded by the clarity of her cooking. Start your meal with the ezme (a spicy vegetable salad) spread on warm, house-baked bread or boat-shaped pide pies filled with cheese, potatoes or Turkish sausage. Tiny beef-filled manti dumplings can compete with the finest tortellini. Among mains, try the beyti kebab, one of the glories of the Turkish kitchen: Chopped, spiced lamb is shaped around a skewer and grilled, then the kebab is wrapped with lavash (a thin, pliable Turkish bread not unlike a flour tortilla) and cut into segments -- as if it were a maki roll. Each segment is topped with tomato sauce and served with yogurt. Finish with a rich and fragrant baked rice pudding or homemade baklava. More info: 516-543-4258, ephesusmedcuisine.com
The large combination plate of cold meze is eight tastes, one of which is a surprise and changes regularly at Ephesus Mediterranean & Turkish Cuisine in Massapequa Park.
Kabobshak Mediterranean Grill
Kabobshak Mediterranean Grill (680 Middle Country Rd., Selden): The unassuming eatery ticks all the Chowhound boxes: dreary location, modest-to-nonexistent décor, charismatic chef and, most of all, soulful food that transports the diner to another part of the world. Kebabs, grilled over charcoal, are all terrific, whether lamb, beef or kofta, a ground mixture of the two. Just as good, and much rarer on Long Island, is the shawarma, Middle Eastern cousin to the Greek gyro and Turkish doner kebab. You are going to want to get the shawarma in a sandwich because Kabobshak makes its own pita bread from scratch. Despite its meat-centric moniker, the restaurant is great for vegetarians. Scooping up mouthfuls of babaganoush, tabbouleh or hummus is yet another task expertly performed by the fresh pita. More info: 631-320-3351, kabobshak.com
Halby kebab, made with kofte beef and served with hummus and falafel bites with rice and pickles at Kabobshak Mediterranean Grill in Selden.
Lola (113A Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck): What happens when a globe-trotting foie-gras magnate decides to open a restaurant that pays homage to the cuisine of his parents' homeland, Israel, while infusing it with North African and Southeast Asian flavors? Lola is what happens. When owner Michael Ginor is away collecting new ideas, executive chef Lenny Messina helms the kitchen, turning out dishes such as green eggplant salad with coriander; charred octopus with hazelnut romesco; fattoush salad with kale, mint and sumac; zaatar-roasted chicken with pomegranate couscous; seared duck breast with sweet potato, roasted mushrooms and barley, halvah parfait. The inventive Sunday brunch is highly recommended. More info: 516-466-5666, restaurantlola.com
Shakshuka, eggs poached in matbuah tomato jam and served in a skillet with grilled pita bread triangles at Lola in Great Neck.
Petra Grill (373 Old Country Rd., Carle Place): Pride of place is the essence of Petra Grill. Eschewing fuzzy allusions to olive trees or kebabs, the Al-Jihazin family named their restaurant after Petra, the ancient city that is Jordan's most famous site. Photographs of the rose-stoned ruins and other splendors grace the walls, but they don't outshine what you'll find on the tables. Meze (starters) here are transporting: hummus, smooth as room-temperature butter, a tangy, nutty symphony; eggplant salad, translucent citrine with emerald and ruby peppers; fried florets of cauliflower drizzled with sweet-sour pomegranate molasses and yogurt; freekeh soup, a sort of Levantine congee made with toasted young wheat, chicken and a strong backbeat of black pepper. Desserts are homemade and taste it. Be adventurous and try something other than baklava. More info: 516-743-9045, mypetragrill.com
Aesh es saraya, a dessert made with challa bread soaked in simple syrup and orange blossom and topped with whipped cream and crushed pistachio, and Layali lebnan, a semolina pudding with sweet syrup served at Petra Grill in Carle Place.
Ravagh Persian Grill
Ravagh Persian Grill (210 Mineola Ave., Roslyn Heights): If the only two items on the menu were the tender, softball-sized stuffed green pepper and the knockout jujeh kebab (a skewer of bone-in guinea hen chunks marinated in saffron and lemon and then grilled and served with chargrilled onion and tomato), Ravagh would still be highly recommended. But there's much more to enjoy at this efficient, affordable Persian grill. Start your meal with the kashk bademja (eggplant and tomatoes cooked into silky submission and topped with yogurt) or the strangely appealing oliveh salad, chicken and potatoes in mayonnaise with eggs, peas and carrots. And there's not a bad kebab in the bunch. (Other location at 335 Main St., Huntington). More info: ravaghrestaurants.com
Stuffed pepper with ground lamb, rice and herbs is served with a tangy chutney at Ravagh Persian Grill in Huntington.
Turkuaz Mediterranean Gourmet
Turkuaz Mediterranean Gourmet (493 Hempstead Tpke., West Hempstead): Among Long Island's many fine Turkish eateries, Turkuaz Mediterranean Gourmet stands out. The restaurant is nothing more than six tables in the front of a workaday Turkish grocery, but chef-owner Ufuk Cetinkaya's cooking evinces a refinement and soulfulness that are absent in many multimillion-dollar establishments. Everything here sings: eggplant in various guises (the perfect excuse to consume piece after piece of warm homemade bread); lahmacun, thin-crusted pizzas strewed with seasoned lamb, then folded over and served with a pile of sumac-dusted onions; sizzling kebabs, particularly the majestic Iskender: roasted lamb heaped onto toasted bread, then slathered with drippings and tomato sauce and finished with a side of yogurt. More info: 516-280-2973, turkuazmediterraneangourmet.com
Kunefe, a sweet pastry coated in syrup, topped with crushed pistachios and filled with cheese, is one of the dessert options at Turkuaz Mediterranean Gourmet in West Hempstead.
Yiasou Yeeros (1060 Old Country Rd., Plainview): Tucked away in the Morton Village shopping center on Old Country Road in Plainview, Yiasou Yeeros is raising the bar on quick-serve Greek cuisine. Gyros are made in house from hand-stacked chicken or ground beef and lamb; on Tuesdays hand-stacked pork (traditional in Greece) spins on the vertical spit. An everyday treat: pork souvlaki. Enjoy a gyro or souvlaki sandwich like they do in Greece: wrapped in a pita with the restaurant's exceptional hand-cut fries. Also recommended: fresh salads dressed with good olive oil, roasted beets with walnuts and feta and the sweet, smoky eggplant dip, melintzanosalata, golden cheese pies. More high marks to the beef meatballs, seasoned with cumin and oregano, and the homemade loukaniko, an aromatic, orange-peel-scented pork sausage. More info: 516-490-3480, yiasouyeeros.com
Moussaka is one of the specialties at Yiasou Yeeros in Plainview.