Pappardelle Ragu at Stellina in Oyster Bay.

Pappardelle Ragu at Stellina in Oyster Bay. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

There are always the same number of restaurants on Newsday’s Top 100 list, but that doesn’t mean that every year doesn’t offer more — more quality, more variety, more surprises. Why? Because the list reflects the ever-evolving bounty of Long Island’s dining scene. Our 2023 food critics' picks add new jewels to established categories: Great Neck’s JaydSiri brings a regional focus to Thai, and Lezzet in Smithtown celebrates the glorious flatbreads of the Turkish kitchen.

What never changes is how a restaurant gets on the list: great food well served in an inviting setting. Our goal is always to experience restaurants the same way you do, paying our own way and striving to visit anonymously. If we get recognized, so be it. But know that dining establishments do not pay or otherwise compensate Newsday to be considered, nor does advertising play a role in editorial decisions.

—Andi Berlin, Erica Marcus, Marie Elena Martinez and Scott Vogel

JaydSiri Thai Bistro

23 S. Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck

Isan, in northeastern Thailand, is known for its grilled meats and bright, herbal salads that sing with sweetness and spice. Chef-owner Sirikanya Suworrapan, who is from Isan, brings an exacting detail to its dishes, presenting them in a casually chic dining room in the midst of Great Neck’s Asian restaurant row. Don’t get us wrong, there’s still the familiar pad thai and pineapple fried rice (as well as an economical lunch special), but JaydSiri taps into the regional Thai renaissance happening in major American cities right now. Sometimes the difference is jolting, like her Lao papaya salad that roars with chili and pungent anchovy instead of the typical lime marinade. The Thai Ocean — a sizzling stir-fry of calamari, plump shrimp and crispy battered fish with onions and bell pepper — has a bit of a floral note after being tossed with bundles of fresh green peppercorns. The Isan steak — juicy chunks of stir-fried rib eye in a sticky lemongrass glaze — is both a crowd-pleaser and true to its roots. It’s a must-order. More info: 516-696-3654, jaydsirithaibistro.com

The Isan vegetable soup, called Gang Ohm, center, and the...

The Isan vegetable soup, called Gang Ohm, center, and the Isan steak at Jaydsiri Thai Bistro in Great Neck. Credit: Linda Rosier

Korean Grill

2074 Jericho Tpke., East Northport

Fans of Korean barbecue know how thrilling it is to grill your own meat. But this new restaurant in East Northport takes it up a notch by using live coals, which are placed inside your table and covered with a wire grill, filling the room with a rustic outdoor aroma. (This passes quickly though, as there are portable chimneys that come down from the ceiling and suck up the smoke.) The charcoal creates crunch and char, giving those boneless short ribs a more exciting texture. After trying it, regular Korean barbecue seems almost lackluster. It’s best to take a group here because the generous portions of charcoal meats hover around $45 each and you’re required to order two varieties. Also, every selection comes with an army of banchan side dishes, as well as lettuce and funky ssamjang dipping paste so you can make your own wraps. More info: 631-499-9999, koreangrillny.com

Newsday food writer Erica Marcus visits Korean Grill in East Northport, one of Newsday's Top 100 restaurants. Credit: Randee Daddona

Lezzet Mediterranean Grill

341 Terry Rd., Smithtown

The setting — a former Chinese takeout in a strip mall — is modest, but Lezzet is turning out exemplary versions of two iconic Turkish flatbreads. Lahmacun and pide can both be compared to pizza: Round lahmacun, about a foot in diameter, is thin-crusted and topped sparingly with minced, seasoned lamb. Pide is shaped like a long, narrow boat and its thicker crust is stuffed with combinations of meats, cheeses and vegetables — from ground lamb and beef to pastirma (Turkish pastrami) and sucuk (spicy sausage) to mozzarella, feta, spinach and potatoes. Think of it as an open-faced Turkish calzone. Lezzet (” flavor” in Turkish) also offers a concise lineup of grilled dishes: beef-lamb and chicken doner kebabs (gyro), skewers bearing chicken, Adana kebab (spiced ground lamb) or kofte (meatballs). There are also a handful of hot and cold starters, a pitch-perfect shepherd salad, desserts and imported Turkish juices and sodas. More info: 631-406-7030

The Lahmacun is rolled up with tomatoes, onions and herbs...

The Lahmacun is rolled up with tomatoes, onions and herbs at Lezzet Mediterranean Grill in Smithtown. Credit: Linda Rosier

Paprika

8 Bond St., Great Neck

Trendy Israeli restaurants are popping up everywhere, and yet the stylish Paprika feels like it’s for the locals. After years of cooking in Manhattan, Roni and David Zaken created a celebration spot using recipes that draw on their hometown of Jerusalem and Roni’s Moroccan Jewish heritage. Large parties dance in their seats to Israeli club music with glasses of arak, a milky spirit with an aniseed kick. Tables are packed with golden platters of salads and grilled meats on wooden boards, and colorful sauces. But the focus is on the sizable brick oven that pumps out a stunning array of Levantine flatbreads and rustic tagines, as well as delicacies such as arays, soft patties of ground meat kebabs stuffed inside little triangle pita pockets. The showstopper is shimdura, a dome of charred flatbread that the server tears open at the table, revealing a steamy mix of ground meat kebabs and veggies in creamy tahini sauce. An Instagram moment, to be sure, yet much more than that. More info: 516-304-5960, paprikacater.com

Newsday food writer Andi Berlin visits Paprika in Great Neck to learn more about Israeli food. Credit: Randee Daddona

Pops & Poosh

988 Merrick Road, Baldwin

The small room is dominated by a stunning wall-length photo of colorful Haitian buildings weaving their way up a hill. In this fast-casual setting, Jessie Byron and her sons Parnell “Pops” Gervais and Wagner “Poosh” Gervais, showcase the cuisine of her native Haiti. Her meat-based dishes benefit from the seasoning mixture called epis, which contains scallion, parsley, thyme, garlic, peppers and cloves. In the iconic pork dish griot, the shoulder is gently cooked with epis into large chunks and then deep-fried until it has a crackling crust. Served in a takeout container topped with the pickled vegetable relish pikliz, it’s deeply savory and shockingly spicy. But nothing one of those refreshing housemade lemonades can’t fix. More info: 516-223-2600, popsandpoosh.com

Malanga root fritters with pickliz at Pops & Poosh in...

Malanga root fritters with pickliz at Pops & Poosh in Baldwin. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Stellina Ristorante

76 South St., Oyster Bay

Chef Fabrizio Facchini started his career at a Michelin-recognized restaurant in Italy’s Le Marche region. At Stellina, the chic little spot he owns with Oyster Bay residents Tom and Adriana Milana, everything he turns his hand to has a certain richness and refinement. The 40-seat room, outfitted in soothing whites and blues, boasts an open kitchen with a wood-burning oven from which light-but-chewy pizzas emerge, as well as veal-beef-pork-lamb meatballs, rosemary-infused Wagyu steaks, a tender porchetta, and veal chops served Milanese or parmigiana. Starters lsuch as fried baby artichokes with lemon aioli and a pinzimonio salad — paper-thin slices of beets, carrots, watermelon radish, and cauliflower with an olive-oil-lemon emulsion — are followed by Facchini’s luxe pastas, the star being paccheri (large, wide tubes) with a golden saffron sauce marbled with pistachio pesto. At Sunday brunch, the breakfast pizza, ricotta-stuffed zucchini flowers and baked eggs are standouts. More info: 516-757-4989, stellinany.com

Bone-in ribeye at Stellina in Oyster Bay.

Bone-in ribeye at Stellina in Oyster Bay. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

The State Room

67 W. Main St., Patchogue

After honing his craft in Manhattan, Los Angeles and Miami, Bellport native Francis Derby revamped Patchogue’s old BrickHouse Brewery space into a swanky jewel box of a cocktail bar. It serves a changing selection of small plates with big ambitions, which Derby fulfills with an emphasis on ingredients, seasonality and creativity. Start with parkerhouse rolls that come with house-churned butter and a rotating seasonal marmalade (recently, black plum). Move on to beef tartare on crumpets napped with Bearnaise sauce or housemade duck sausage with pickled cherry, fennel and smoked almonds. There are pastas such as linguine with local clams and fennel confit, and a pomodoro is elevated by Early Girl Farms’ tomatoes. Small-scale mains include miso-glazed mackerel and a short rib ssam with bok choy kimchi and sweet soy aioli. Cocktails by beverage director Bert Wiegand change as often as the food menu, with inventive drinks like Dear Earnest, made with coconut rum, absinthe, black walnut bitters and garnished with black lime. More info: 631-447-2337, thestateroomli.com

Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez visits The State Room in Patchogue, one of Newsday's 2023 Top 100 restaurants. Credit: Linda Rosier; Francis Derby

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