Roasted red snapper with vegetable fricassee at Stone Creek Inn...

Roasted red snapper with vegetable fricassee at Stone Creek Inn in East Quogue. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Ask someone about the best meal they've ever had out at a restaurant and you may well hear more about the setting than the entree. A great atmosphere, excellent service and execution of details factor into memorable dining experiences — here are Long Island's top spots to mark a special occasion.

1770 House (143 Main St., East Hampton): There are few more memorable Island meals than those served in the garden of this centuries-old local landmark, particularly in the evenings, when tree-strung fairy lights only add to the magic. Not that the food isn’t magical all by itself. Under the continuing stewardship of executive chef Michael Rozzi, 1770 House remains an elegant, delightful spot, with, of course, rooms if you'd like to stay until breakfast. Spicy Montauk fluke tartare, a legendary starter, is almost reason enough to pay 1770 a visit, attractively and deliciously adorned as it is with pickled cucumber and wasabi-flavored tobiko. The tuna tataki with togarashi peanuts and cilantro is equally fine. Second course favorites included an irresistible pasta with lobster meat and snap peas, as well as a sweet and truffled corn risotto. Halibut and swordfish were among the fish entrees recently featured, the former with a mushrooom-thyme sauce and mashed potatoes, the latter marinated and served with a marjoram pesto. More info: 631-324-1770,

Chilled big eye tuna tataki with green sauce, cilantro and...

Chilled big eye tuna tataki with green sauce, cilantro and togarashi peanuts at 1770 House in East Hampton. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Franina (58 W. Jericho Tpke., Syosset): One of Long Island's best Italian spots, this handsome restaurant is refined and loaded with excellent dishes. Recommended: spaghetti alla carbonara, pappardelle Bolognese, orecchiette alla Norma, spinach tortelloni with walnuts and brown butter-sage sauce, grilled octopus with white beans, grilled long-stem artichokes, Berkshire pork chop with fennel gratin and sauteed apples, zabaglione for two, biscotti with vin SantoMore info: 516-496-9770,

Lamb chops with lentils and polenta at Franina in Syosset.

Lamb chops with lentils and polenta at Franina in Syosset. Credit: Doug Young

Mirabelle (150 Main St., Stony Brook): Long before Covid and its attendant proscriptions, Guy Reuge turned the historic Three Village Inn into a four-star dining destination, and while the bloom may be off the rose, Mirabelle remains a top choice for special occasion dining. The somewhat pared down menu continues to celebrate French and New American cooking, along with Asian and European, and the commitment to farm-to-table fare is as robust as ever. Nods to Mirabelle’s tavern roots include crackling good fish and chips with house-made potato chips, Kobe sliders and chickpea fries, and the eternal flammkuchen (Alsatian thin-crust pizza). The high-end offerings, meanwhile, are among the best on the Island. There’s a fine steak frites, and an even finer seared duck breast currently enhanced by a rhubarb and cherry marmalade. And while it’s not worth leaving room for dessert at most restaurants, Mirabelle remains a stellar exception. The four on offer change according to whim, but are never less than fun, imaginative and composed of the freshest ingredients. More info: 631-751-0555,

The Hudson Valley foie gras served at Mirabelle in Stony...

The Hudson Valley foie gras served at Mirabelle in Stony Brook. Credit: Daniel Brennan

North Fork Table & Inn (57225 Main Rd., Southold): John Fraser has seemingly accomplished the impossible: The new chef-owner of Southold’s iconic North Fork Table & Inn has given it a thorough upgrade that still honors its spirit as a shrine to local produce. Fraser, a Michelin-starred chef noted for his innovative approach to vegetables, and his chef de cuisine, Steven Barrantes, have been duly inspired by what they have found on the North Fork: local fluke crudo with carrots and jalapeno; local corn with broken flagolet beans. The pride of the renovated kitchen is a wood-burning hearth from which issues the "The Southold Grill": four fire-kissed local fish — fluke, monkfish, black bass, squid — arrayed around a Shinnecock sea scallop. The once-homey dining room now evinces a polished, even Hamptonian, chic and two outdoor dining rooms now flank the building whose grounds have been lavishly landscaped. Even the food truck at the back of the parking lot has charming new outdoor seating area. More info: 631-765-017,

The Southold Grill served at North Fork Table & Inn...

The Southold Grill served at North Fork Table & Inn in Southold. Credit: Randee Daddona

Prime: An American Kitchen & Bar (17 N. New York Ave., Huntington): The menu may be smaller, but Prime remains an 18-karat entry in Gold Coast dining, year in and year out. The 40-ounce porterhouse for two is as good as it’s ever been, same goes for the 40-ounce Tellers rib-eye (which makes reference to Prime’s fellow restaurant in the Bohlsen Restaurant Group). The filet mignon and New York strip steak, the latter dry-aged for 21 days, are terrific, as is the generous veal chop parmigiana. And everything seems just a bit more special from Prime’s outdoor tables, which deliver a delightful harbor view even as the well-appointed dining and oyster bar represent the high-end of Long Island eating with great skill and just enough flair. Executive chef Francis Derby excels at high-end hits like beef Wellington, but leavens the menu with a standout burger and crispy chicken sandwich, and has smartly kept such popular plates as the caramelized figs with prosciutto, almonds and goat cheese, the plump crab cakes (now with a sweet corn remoulade), shellfish cocktails, refreshing sushi rolls and salads. More info: 631-385-1515,

A 40 oz. "Tellers Ribeye" steak is served on the bone...

A 40 oz. "Tellers Ribeye" steak is served on the bone at Prime in Huntington. Credit: Daniel Brennan

Sandbar (55 Main St., Cold Spring Harbor): Chickpea fries, our kingdom for the chickpea fries--crisp outside, creamy within, and stacked as carefully as Lincoln Logs. But there’s so much more behind Sandbar’s unassuming facade--a cozy, charming dining room, an intriguing crowd at the bar, and a vibe that’s inviting to regulars and newbies alike. Food-wise, executive chef Guy Reuge’s playful menu includes a plate of duck tacos that’s a riotous combination of daikon, rounds of jalapeno and hoisin sauce, the burgers are boosted by a bacon marmalade, and the fish is fine whether roasted (halibut), seared (scallops, striped bass), or given the tartare-ginger-sriracha treatment (tuna). Finest of all on one recent visit was the trofie pasta, a humble-bragging collection of tomatoes, Parmesan, basil and noodles that sounds ho-hum but tastes anything but. More info: 631-498-6188,

Seared scallops with butternut squash risotto, pepitas and sage at...

Seared scallops with butternut squash risotto, pepitas and sage at Sandbar in Cold Spring Harbor. Credit: Daniel Brennan

Stone Creek Inn (405 Montauk Hwy., East Quogue): The very definition of a country restaurant, this year Stone Creek has been doubling down on its bucolic setting with expanded outdoor dining and a food truck serving tacos, lobster rolls and other casual bites as well as takeout versions of some of the kitchen’s greatest hits. The dine-in-and-out menu remains true to the refined, French-inspired American approach that chef-owners Christian Mir and Elaine DiGiacomo established when the opened in 1996. Menus change with the season but look for such classics as seared foie gras with roasted figs and a Port reduction; traditional caviar service with crème frâiche and blinis and Provencal rack of lamb, as well as more grilled octopus with lemon confit, local fluke ceviche, butter-poached lobster with lemongrass broth. cavatelli with veal ragù. More info: 631-653-6770,

Roasted red snapper with vegetable fricassee at Stone Creek Inn...

Roasted red snapper with vegetable fricassee at Stone Creek Inn in East Quogue. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Tellers: An American Chophouse (605 Main St., Islip): Maybe it’s that roaring fire and gleaming copper bar in the lounge, or the bank lobby turned bustling dining room, with its impossibly high ceilings, 30-foot windows, glowing Deco wall sconces and artificial trees. Or the mammoth crustaceans boiled orange and beef Wellingtons and multitiered shellfish towers visible at all points in the dining room. Who are we kidding? You come to Tellers for the Celebration Strip, 20 ounces of the finest dry-aged, bourbon-tinged, carnal succulence that your canines have ever torn into, or the audacity of the 40-ounce rib-eye with 12 inches of clean white bone tomahawking out of it. Still, don’t overlook Tellers’ seafood offerings, including the lobster roll and clams on the half-shell. Equally superb is the Key lime pie, scrumptious on its own but sublime when plated with a blueberry sauce and coconut sorbet. On a tight budget? Don’t miss the prix fixe lunch, a serious candidate for finest weekday bargain on the island. More info: 631-277-7070,

Long before Tellers in Islip became known for their cuisine, the building housed a bank. When renovating the building, Tellers owners kept several of the bank's architectural features prominent and turned their bank vault into a wine vault.  Credit: Daniel Brennan

The Palm Court at the Carltun (1899 Hempstead Tpke., East Meadow): This 1920s property oozes charm, from its bar to its ballroom to its string of patios and gardens. Chef Stephen Rosenbluth engineers a menu that gracefully combines French, American, Latin, pan-Asian and Italian influences, from tuna bites with wasabi-laced aioli or pan-fried cod tacos (on the appetizer front) to lobster bisque, chicken scarpariello or horseradish-encrusted salmon with roasted potatoes and zucchini noodles. The wine cellar harbors some of the choicest bottles on Long Island, and sommelier Fadi Yako is game to connect (and maybe even surprise) you with the perfect bottle. More info: 516-542-0700,

The Filet Mignon surf and turf with South African lobster,...

The Filet Mignon surf and turf with South African lobster, Panamanian white Shrimp and casa blanca mashed potato, served at The Carltun in East Meadow. Credit: Daniel Brennan

The LakeHouse (135 Maple Ave., Bay Shore): Which is better, the view or the food? Luckily you don’t have to choose between them at this Great South Bay landmark. Matthew and Eileen Connors’ first-class establishment remains at the top of its game. Fine starters include the briny, rich Lucky 13 oysters on the half shell and a terrific New England-inspired littleneck clam chowder that's enhanced with applewood bacon. Lighter appetites will enjoy the ricotta cavatelli with shrimp and pesto, along with the not-quite-light steak sandwich on rosemary focaccia. The juicy, roasted Berkshire pork chop, long a Lake-House specialty, now comes with a warm fingerling potato salad; crisp-skinned breast of Long Island duck and leg confit with a pomegranate-pistachio glaze; herb-marinated salmon with a yogurt mint sauce; and Parmesan-crusted cod with chorizo, clams and sauteed calamari. Ideal finales include the warm cinnamon-sugar doughnuts with raspberry jam and cream cheese icing, and a s’mores sundae. More info: 631-666-0995,

Eileen Connors, co-owner of The LakeHouse in Bay Shore, talks about the anxiety and excitement that went into reopening the restaurant for diners after three months of coronavirus shutdown. Credit: Randee Daddona

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