Fresh, local and seasonal are the keywords that apply to New American cooking, which has grown dramatically in the four decades since it originated in the fertile fields and minds of California and its chefs. It's a cuisine bound by almost no rules and one that has changed tables nationwide for good.
These are Newsday's choices for the 10 best New American restaurants on Long Island, listed alphabetically.
Almond, Bridgehampton: This bistro is more New American than French, but scores with both cuisines under chef Jason Weiner. Service also stands out, in a smoothly run dining room overseen by Eric Lemonides. It's a striking spot, from tin ceiling to subway tiles to vintage accents. Notable: hanger steak Bordelaise, "dock-to-dine" crudo, Berkshire pork Milanese, English pea-and-ricotta ravioli; chocolate pot de crème, sticky toffee date cake.
House-smoked bluefish at Almond in Bridgehampton.
Kitchen A Bistro
Kitchen A Bistro, St. James: Eric Lomando's exacting cooking crosses borders and heightens appetites in his near elbow-to-elbow, countrified restaurant. You'll be treated to courses such as ricotta gnocchi with fresh tomato, duck confit with wild rice and cherry agrodolce, salmon with Thai curry broth, lamb two ways with potato-goat cheese puree, marinated pork belly with apple-cherry compote, strawberry-rhubarb Linzer torte, and ricotta-lemon tart with pistachio ice cream. (Pictured: pork ravioli with arugula pesto)
Kitchen A Bistro in St. James serves seared scallops, served with a cauliflower puree and drizzled with a walnut pesto.
The Lake House
The Lake House, Bay Shore: Chef Matthew Connors prepares refined, subtle, inviting fare in this cozy, lakeside restaurant, which he co-owns with spouse/maitresse d' Eileen. The menu changes frequently. Among the winners: crisp-skinned suckling pig with polenta; wild-mushroom risotto; steamed black sea bass with lobster-coconut broth; Parmesan-crusted hake filet; roasted Berkshire pork chop with green apple, yam, blue cheese and caramelized onion gratin; Bartlett pear crisp. (Pictured: pan-roasted local tilefish served with smashed red potatoes with truffles, braised leeks, and a wild mushroom emulsion)
A seasonal special at The Lake House includes creamed chanterelles, grilled local asparagus, baby arugula topped with a slab of Humboldt Fog goat cheese and a poached organic egg.
Market Bistro, Jericho: Busy and buoyant, Market Bistro is a shopping-center restaurant that fits in like a Manhattan detour. Chef Chuck Treadwell's satisfying, homey updates on traditional dishes ensure popularity. The "mb burger" is made splendidly with dry-aged rib-eye, Kobe-style brisket and short rib. Also consider shrimp and grits, skillet-roasted chicken, bison sliders, market pickles, spring vegetable-and-ricotta ravioli, and apple crisp with ginger-mascarpone ice cream. (Pictured: roast pork)
Blue crab claw salad is served at Market Bistro in Jericho.
La Marmite, Williston Park: La Marmite, which is more than 40 years old, has become younger. Under new ownership and executive chef Gregory Kearns, the eminent Victorian has been lightened and brightened. Seasonal favorites include gnocchi with ramp pesto and morels; and sweet-pea agnolotti with lobster and pea shoots. Also recommended: cacao e pepe, the Roman classic, made here with spaghetti alla chitarra, black pepper and pecorino cheese; boudin blanc, halibut with artichoke and sunchoke accents; and a Meyer lemon crème brulee. (Pictured: pappardelle Bolognese)
Seared diver scallops at La Marmite in Williston Park.
Mirabelle, Stony Brook: Mirabelle restaurant and Mirabelle Tavern come together under chef Guy Reuge's farm-to-table experience. The results are terrific, whether you're ordering Reuge's classic, two-course duck or fish-and-chips, local fish soup or lobster salad with chilled lobster bisque, grilled octopus with chorizo and potatoes or fluke steak with herb velouté. The ginger-almond tart anchors the desserts. Maria Reuge expertly manages the dining rooms. (Pictured: bacon-wrapped loin of Berkshire pork with potato millefeuille and Madeira sauce)
Mirabelle restaurant's namesake duck dish, duck Mirabelle, is a two-course entree consisting of tender duck breast served over grits, with pearl onions and huckleberry sauce, and duck leg confit (pictured) served with sweet potato flan, cranberry quince jam and caramelized pecans.
North Fork Table & Inn
North Fork Table & Inn, Southold: When it opened in 2006, North Fork Table & Inn put the North Fork on the culinary map. Eight years later, it is still the region's standard-bearer of rustic elegance. Executive chef Gerry Hayden gets an assist from Hamptons veteran Kevin Penner in deepening the restaurant's commitment to Long Island's produce, fish and fowl. The seasonal menu might feature seared Crescent Farms duck breast with tart rhubarb chutney or eggplant-wrapped loin of swordfish. Hayden's raw hamachi with Hudson Valley foie gras has attained classic status, as has pastry chef Claudia Fleming's chocolate-caramel tart. (Pictured: Berkshire pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon with spring onions, baby carrots, Yukon gold potato-olive oil puree and roasted Cipollini onions)
Pan-roasted local striped bass is served on a ragu of leeks, fingerling potatoes and house-smoked bacon with sweet pea puree and morel confit at The North Fork Table & Inn in Southold.
Prime, Huntington: Prime is part of the Bohlsen Restaurant Group, which includes Tellers: An American Chophouse in Islip and H20 Seafood & Sushi in Smithtown. It's a sparkling, waterside restaurant. Chef Ben Durham's cuisine focuses on steaks and seafood, including colorful sushi rolls. His hits go from the strip steak to Sichuan-peppercorn-crusted tuna. And you may veer toward gnocchi with Parmesan-and-truffle sauce, steamed lobster, rack of lamb, or the bison rib-eye, too. (Pictured, beef Wellington with a Bordelaise sauce and Brie fondue)
Prime in Huntington serves a macadamia nut-crusted mahi mahi with a spinach and pepper jelly.
Roots Bistro Gourmand
Roots Bistro Gourmand, West Islip: Restless, creative and unpredictable, Roots Bistro Gourmand is a carefully fashioned treat from executive chef Philippe Corbet and chef James Orlandi. The tasting menus are seductive, with a la carte dishes their equal. A sampler: delightful, spring vegetable or butter-poached lobster pot au feu; ocean trout open ravioli with lemongrass dashi; salmon pastrami; pork belly-and-beans with caramelized onions, chorizo paste and spring succotash; and dark chocolate mousse. (Pictured: pressed suckling pig, served with caramelized heart of palm, baby carrots, caraway-lavender honey and spring onion compote)
Butter-poached lobster is served with creamy polenta, cherry tomatoes, Vidalia onions, fava beans and citrus white butter inside a lobster bisque emulsion at Roots Bistro Gourmand in West Islip.
Topping Rose House
Topping Rose House, Bridgehampton: A landmark building transformed, the handsome, grand Topping Rose House is celebrity chef Tom Colicchio's ode to locavore dining. The menus change monthly. The highlights might bring in house-made charcuterie; bucatini with clams, chilies and parsley; roasted lobster with carrot fregola; cucumber gazpacho with smoked bluefish; and roasted Rohan duck (pictured). Pastry chef Cassandra Shupp stars with brioche doughnuts with chocolate and cinnamon sugar; chocolate mousse tart; and more.
Spice-roasted lobster is served at the Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton.