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Long Island restaurants offering fall menus you have to try

Spicy pork ragu over bucatini at Rustic Root

Spicy pork ragu over bucatini at Rustic Root in Woodbury. Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

As summer turns to fall, the chef’s palette changes. The colors of dishes take on the hues of the turning leaves — the gold of butternut squash, the scarlet of roasted beets. Tender leaves and stems give way to hearty roots and tubers and, all around, flavors deepen as slow braises and roasts replace quick grills. Here are new dishes from chefs embracing the season at 10 Long Island restaurants.

The Wild Goose (75 Main St, Port Washington): When the weather starts to cool down, Kent Monkan gets his braise on. “It’s all about that long, slow cooking — lamb shanks, short ribs, rabbit legs.” Game, squash and root vegetables take center stage and pasta comes back into fashion because, “it’s not swimsuit season anymore.” Owner Monkan runs autumnal specials at Heirloom Tavern in Glen Head and The Brass Rail in Locust Valley but, this year, he’s most excited about what his executive chef, Ramone Martinez, has cooked up for The Wild Goose in Port Washington. Specials include a salad of baby kale with pancetta lardons, julienned Granny Smith apples, pickled red onions, candied pecans, goat cheese and sherry-vinegar gastrique; mahi-mahi with a “hash” of roasted beets, celery root and caramelized carrots; creamy Creole sauce over black “Forbidden” rice; and a grilled venison chop with a puree of butternut squash apples, chanterelle mushrooms, baby carrots and a fig-balsamic reduction. More info: 516-441-5505, thewildgooseli.com

Red Salt Room (Inside the Garden City Hotel, 45 7th St., Garden City): This is the territory of celebrity chef David Burke, he of multiple high-profile restaurants and Food Network appearances, who opened this sultry spot in the Garden City Hotel last year. Resident executive chef Brian E. Lee (himself a Culinary Institute of America grad and alum of the 21 Club and various New York City hotels) puts Burke's vision into action here. For the fall menu — set to debut Oct. 6 — expect autumnal pyrotechnics in the form of butternut squash soup with lobster or foie gras and acorn squash-stuffed agnolotti with pistachio pesto and golden raisins. All across this sumptuous menu are alluring cool-weather combinations, such as salt-baked beets with goat cheese and treviso radicchio (a starter) to bronzed branzino with yam gnocchi and Swiss chard, or ale-braised crispy beef short ribs with king oyster mushrooms, sweet potatoes and apple butter. If you're piqued to learn more about cooking with fall ingredients — or just devour them in all of their glory — Burke will host a cooking demo, roll out a tasting menu and debut fall brunch items at the hotel during the weekend of Oct. 11-13. More info: 516-877-9385, gardencityhotel.com

Maldon & Mignonette (243 Glen Cove Ave., Sea Cliff): This fall marks one year that chef-owner Robert Occhipinti’s resolutely seasonal Maldon & Mignonette has been open in Sea Cliff, and that’s allowed him to return to some of the dishes that he started with. His salad of fall chicories — castelfranco, tardivo, endive and frisee — is still punctuated with brown-butter hazelnuts, but he has swapped out the prosciutto for speck, its smokier cousin. Another vegetable-forward starter is baby beets with sliced candy-cane beets and pistachio pesto. He’s making duck rillettes (a sort of rich pate) served with quince paste and a fat Berkshire pork chop with delicata squash and Swiss chard. Occhipinti always has a stuffed pasta on the menu and this fall’s lucky shape is cappelletti with a puree of butternut squash and celery root garnished with fried sage leaves and roasted pecans. More info: 516-801-3250, maldonmignonette.com

Tullulah's (12 Fourth Ave., Bay Shore): How often do diners from one shore stray to another? Those who fall into a North Shore groove would be wise to migrate south once in awhile. All the talk of a millennial invasion in places such as Bay Shore obscures the fact that eating out here is an adventure, with plates that have all of the polish and double the imagination of their Gold Coast counterparts. Enter Tullulah's, which quietly does its thing just off Main Street. "We always cook with the seasons," said chef-owner Steven Scalesse. For fall, that's going to mean pan-seared Crescent Farm duck breast with fennel and mustard-seed carrots, French green lentils, plum-vinegar gastrique and duck demiglacé, as well as locally caught monkfish, dusted with coriander and tarragon and served with shaved fennel and Brussels sprouts, citrus farro and white verjus. When the menu changes here, the drinks lineup does, too: On deck are cocktails such as Oh Cyrus, a blend of masala-infused mezcal, fermented pluot puree, lemon, Aperol, Drambuie and maraschino liqueur. More info: 631-969-9800, tullulahs.com

Rustic Root (7927 Jericho Tpke., Woodbury): At Rustic Root, executive chef Tom Gloster changes more than half the menu every season, but he does it gradually so that “it’s an easier transition for the back of the house and the front of the house. Our customers don’t like to see a completely new menu either.” American diners are used to pork all year long but hog were traditionally fattened to be slaughtered in the fall. “They have more fat on them this time of year,” Gloster said, and he uses those nice fat shoulders in his spicy pork ragu, spiced with Fresno chilies and served over pasta with whipped ricotta. He mixes autumn fruits such as figs and grapes with dried summer fruit, apricots and cherries, for the spicy-sweet fruit “mostarda” that he serves with potato-filled pierogies. Meanwhile, fall vegetables show up at dessert, in two housemade ice creams, one made with corn, the other with butternut squash. More info: 516-364-5041, rusticrootkitchen.com

Orto (90 North Country Rd. Miller Place): Orto has the rustic feel of an old Italian farmhouse and a menu that changes so frequently, to mirror the season, that you won't find it online — you just need to show up and place your trust in this seasoned chef. "A lot of summer items have been sticking around a little later," wrote executive chef-owner Eric Lomando in an email. "We are still pulling tomatoes from the garden." That said, dishes like roasted carrots and beets with pistachio pesto and smoked yogurt, or squash panna cotta with ginger, are already on the menu. In the short-term future, the kitchen will roll out more deeply autumnal numbers such as roasted cauliflower with bagna cauda and Parmagiano and seared venison with chestnut-celery root puree and freekeh in a red-wine mushroom sauce. A note to wine lovers: There is no corkage fee here, so even though Orto has an excellent wine list, don't be shy about bringing your favorite vino. More info: 631-862-0151, restaurantorto.com

The Halyard (58775 Rte. 48 (inside the Sound View hotel), Greenport): “We are sad to see tomatoes and herbs start to fizzle out, but are very excited by a few new items,” said chef Stephan Bogardus of his autumn menu at The Halyard. Seasonal additions at the Greenport restaurant include a strip steak accompanied by a celery root-brown butter puree, roasted Brussels sprouts and a bordelaise sauce. The grilled Montauk monkfish is now served “over four colors of cauliflower above a black garlic-tahini sauce,” and the swordfish over “local polenta, broccoli rabe and a brown butter-balsamic emulsion.” Otherwise, “we are really loving a new crab and apple salad,” said Bogardus, adding that the $19 appetizer is served with grain mustard and a green apple mousse. Cocktail manager Derrick Erwee has also been busy. “When I think of fall I think Amaro,” he said. It’s the lead spirit in his Death Before Decaf, which blends the liqueur with aged scotch and coffee syrup. As Erwee also loves “playing with smoke,” he’s making an Instagram-friendly concoction called Letting the Cat Out of the Bag, in which a bottle of various spirits is packed with a coupe glass in a brown paper bag filled with cherrywood smoke. “It gets presented to the guest as a ‘packed lunch,’” said Erwee. More info: 631-477-0666, thehalyardgreenport.com

The Maidstone (207 Main St., East Hampton): The cozy restaurant inside this boutique East Hampton hotel is adding a few new dishes to its fall line-up, part of a menu with a special emphasis on seafood and salads. New appetizers include an escargot bourguignon in which the snails are baked with garlic butter under a lid of puff pastry. Salad-wise, there’s a new one composed of roasted beets and apples mixed with kale, goat cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds. Jumbo lump crabcakes are now accompanied by a wild mushroom-and-black-truffle pappardelle with goat cheese and mascarpone. And there’s one more new item: an entree featuring roasted acorn squash stuffed with farro and a vegetable pilaf, served over grilled radicchio and endive. More info: 631-324-5440, themaidstone.com

Lenox & Park (41 S. Park Ave., Rockville Centre): “If you’re Italian, you remember Sunday as the day you spent with family around the table,” said Michael Griffo, co-owner of the Rockville Centre bistro. His kitchen is manned by chef Tony Colombo, who left his own eponymous restaurant earlier this year. His Sunday only “family dinner” features a 7-hour sauce (“he starts early in the morning”) composed of marinara tossed with pork, beef and topped with housemade whipped ricotta. Also new this fall is a Sicilian style, slow-cooked braciola with raisins, pignoli nuts and prosciutto. “Sundays will also feature football happy hours, karaoke and more,” Griffo added. More info: 516-442-1299, lenoxandparkrvc.com

2 Spring (2 Spring St., Oyster Bay): Chef Jesse Schenker has a few fun surprises in store for fall diners at his Oyster Bay eatery, among them a duck breast entree served with smoked tomato jam, Swiss chard and trumpet mushrooms , a pappardelle with wild boar ragu, fennel, oyster mushrooms and grana padano. New starters and small plates include raw tuna with orange aji, red curry, and pickled red onions, and a potato and leek soup with leek confit, lardons, chanterelles and crispy potatoes. Schenker’s new dessert this fall is a goat cheese panna cotta with berry compote, a tarragon tuile and pistachios. More info: 516-624-2411, 2springstreet.com

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