Rain lashed the windows of Amityville’s Park Avenue Grill on a recent morning, but it could not deter the army of dedicated weekday breakfasters who filled every booth, forks and plates clinking while omelets flew from the kitchen and the espresso machine whirred in the background.
At 10 a.m. on a Monday — an hour when many people are at work — there’s nevertheless a wait for a seat here. Such is the vogue these days for breakfast, a once-rote meal that has crept beyond diner booths and the occasional weekend brunch to fuel a boomlet in breakfast-centric spots and ever-more-decadent twists on eggs and French toast.
“In the last two years we’ve definitely seen an increase in breakfast-alone dishes,” said Erin Bevilacqua, who runs Park Avenue Grill with her husband, Alex Gonzalez. By "breakfast alone," Bevilacqua means dishes that people might eat morning or evening, such as baked eggs with chevre or her zucchini-cauliflower hash with turkey sausage and Cheddar and Jack cheeses.
The couple has run Park Avenue Grill for years, but this spring they revamped both the interior and the menu to cater to the soaring demand for breakfast all day — adding a liquor license (for Bloody Marys and mimosas) as well as gluten-free and dairy-free dishes such as vegan pancakes made with almond flour and milk.
This year alone, Hatch in Huntington, Buttermilk’s Kitchen in Patchogue, Toast Coffeehouse in Bay Shore, Brownstone’s Coffee in East Northport, Famous Toastery in Commack and Rooster’s Cafe in Bellport have all opened. Each is wholly devoted to breakfast (and lunch), closing in the late afternoon and eschewing dinner service all together for a morning-heavy roster of original dishes such as peanut butter and banana French toast, Mexican chilaquiles or the current monarch of the breakfast menu, avocado toast.
“We sell a ton of pancakes and eggs Benedicts, but our top seller is avocado toast,” said Mark Lessing, executive vice president of Lessing’s, which owns and runs Hatch. “That surprised us.”
Lessing discovered two other things when opening Hatch: It was easier to find staff for the more humane hours — servers and cooks can usually leave by 5 p.m. — and also, brunchers were not just relegated to weekends. “A lot of people are working from home, so they can come out at different hours," he said.
So-called millennials have often been pinpointed as driving the breakfast trend, but an informal spin through some of these local breakfast spots in September revealed that the meal cuts a large demographic swath. Bevilacqua confirms that her breakfast customers tend to be in their 40s and 50s.
Michael Manfredi of East Williston, decidedly not a millennial, is often on the road for his work in the construction industry. He eats breakfast out often and has a long-standing devotion to diners — but has occasionally strayed from his usual of “coffee, scrambled eggs, bacon and white toast" toward things such as avocado toast. "I had multigrain toast with avocado, alfalfa sprouts and crushed red pepper. It sounds weird, but I really liked it," he said.
While variations on avocado toast are expected to continue into the near future, Long Island's newest crop of breakfast places still trade heavily in hash browns, hollandaise and maple syrup. Here are eight that either opened or were renovated this year.
Rooster's Cafe (14 Station Rd., Bellport): Chef James Malone and his mother-in-law, Annamae Russo, opened this cafe together in mellow downtown Bellport in June, and their menu is buoyed by dishes Malone honed during a 25-year career in kitchens — including a stint at The Flying Pig Cafe in Miller Place. Muffins, pies, cakes and turnovers are baked on the premises by Sandra Russo Sotke, Annamae Russo’s daughter, and lovers of avocado toast should fall face-first into the AvoTomo, dressed up with tomato confit and balsamic glaze. The oatmeal-almond Belgian waffle ain’t too shabby, either, and Rooster’s froths up “farmhouse frappés” in flavors such as s’mores and Oreo. More info: 631-803-2993
Patrons dine under a copper toned tin ceiling in the farm house-styled dining room of Rooster's Cafe in Bellport
Hatch (286 Main St., Huntington): This gathering place for breakfast and brunch opened in spring, and its yolk-colored leather booths and centerpiece bar can engender long waits, even during the week. Chef Billy Muzio’s takes on breakfast fare trek from classic dishes such as the “New York classic” breakfast sandwich of scrambled eggs, cheese and apple-wood smoked bacon on a bun, to multiple twists on eggs Benedict (including one layered with prosciutto and taleggio cheese) and buttermilk pancakes with vanilla-rum crème Anglaise and caramelized pineapple. The java comes from Southdown Coffee, and blood-orange mimosas and rye-laced chai lattes keep things lively. More info: 631-424-0780, hatchbrunch.com
Pineapple upside down pancakes are topped with house-made vanilla rum creme anglaise, carmelized pineapple and cinnamon butter at Hatch in Huntington.
Famous Toastery (10-2020 E. Jericho Tpke., Mayfair Shopping Center, Commack): This is the first Long Island location of this Carolinas-based chain, and a homecoming of sorts for co-founders Robert Maynard and Brian Burchill, both of whom grew up in Centereach. They opened the first Famous Toastery in Huntersville, North Carolina, in 2005 with the motto of “breakfast, lunch and brunch. All at once.” That manifests as a menu mashup of New York-centric dishes such as bagels with a schmear and lox to more gut-sticking Southern fare such as biscuits and gravy with eggs, all served in an exuberant space that evokes a farmhouse kitchen. More info: 631-403-2551, famoustoastery.com
The dining area of Famous Toastery in Commack.
For Five Coffee
For Five Coffee (292 Plandome Rd., Manhasset): The first Long Island location for this Queens-based coffee roaster, may have the earliest daily opening time of the places on this list (5:30 a.m., as befits a place across from an LIRR station). It’s also the most stylish of the bunch, with a modern, bright, streamlined look, as well as a sleek coffee and breakfasting counter. Come for the coffee, mocha and cold brew, but stay for breakfast and pastries — cinnamon twists are a must, but there’s also salmon gravlax on rye, avocado toast (of course) with walnuts and pesto, and torrijas, a milk-soaked Spanish version of French toast that comes topped with a house tiger-nut ice cream. More info: 516-918-9488, forfivecoffee.com
The cinnamon twist is served at For Five Coffee in Manhasset.
Brownstones Coffee (361 Larkfield Rd., East Northport): Manny and Christopher Kourounis opened the first Brownstone’s in Amityville in 2002, long before the current breakfast boom took hold. : A West Islip location was added, and thisyear, they installed their third location in a former East Northport Friendly’s — mirroring the same turn-of-the-century vibe and sprawling coffee menu of its predecessors . The place was almost immediately mobbed. Avocado toast has its own mini-section of the menu, and Brownstones creamy pagoccinos, a twist on frappés, were a summer staple. More info: 631-486-8897, brownstonescoffee.com
Brownstone’s Coffee in East Northport.
Buttermilk’s Kitchen (76 W. Main St., Patchogue): Buttermilk’s Kitchen, new to Patchogue, is seemingly designed for Instagrammable breakfasts: It’s airy and artsy, with a shabby-chic vibe, sake-spiked Bloody Marys, and dishes that will set you up for the day, such as s’mores French toast, steak-and-manchego omelets, and the buttermilk pancakes. (Pictured: Samoa pancakes). More info: 631-654-6455, buttermilkskitchen.com
The dining room of Buttermilk's Kitchen in Patchogue.
Park Avenue Grill
Park Avenue Grill (178 Park Ave., Amityville): Owners Erin Bevilacqua and Alex Gonzalez opened Park Avenue Grill in 2011, but this spring they renovated their cozy, quaint dining room to give it a farmhouse feel and changed up their breakfast menu with dishes such as baked eggs with chèvre and pesto and gluten-free vegan pancakes made with almond milk. Chef Doug Rotenberg’s zucchini-cauliflower hash threaded with turkey sausage and two kinds of cheese has a devoted following. More info: 631-598-4618, www.parkavenuegrill.net
Crazy Beans (159-14 Rte. 25A, Miller Place): Breakfast brought Crazy Beans owners Callie and Tim Martino together: They met when he came in to eat at the spot she had opened in Miller Place in 2012. Later, they became partners in both business and life, expanding the Crazy Beans empire to Stony Brook and Greenport, even as they closed their original Miller Place location. Last winter, this whimsical luncheonette reopened in the town where it all began, with retro booths and tables, a breakfast counter, cherry-red walls covered with artwork, and a menu that bounces from breakfast tacos to quesadillas, three iterations of French toast and old-fashioned corned beef hash with eggs. More info: 631-403-4954, crazybeansrestaurant.com