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Long Beach restaurants: Great places for summer dining

The Hamptons may get all the glory, but Nassau County's South Shore has its very own beachside resort town, Long Beach. In the years since it was devastated by superstorm Sandy, Long Beach has come roaring back, with new food and dining options.

Long Beach has two primary commercial districts: Park Avenue, the blocks on either side of the Long Island Rail Road station, and the West End, about two miles to the west. This year, the West End -- traditionally focused more on drinking than eating -- has some of the city's hottest tables.

Here are some places not to miss.

Selections by Newsday's food staff.

Steven's Pasta

Steven's Pasta (150 E. Park Ave.): Longtime Long
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Steven's Pasta (150 E. Park Ave.): Longtime Long Beach residents know that Steven's Pasta isn't really new: it's the second incarnation of a restaurant that opened in 1989 and closed, due to fire, 20 years later. Partners Steven Guasco, the chef, and Louis Corcione, the general manager, went on to open Fresco Creperie (locations in Long Beach and Williston Park) but the pull of pasta was too strong and, in May, they reopened their pasta-centric eatery a few doors down from the original. "We took over John Henry's Pub," said Corcione, "and we wanted to keep that pubby feel -- dark wood, a friendly bar. At the original Steven's we didn't even have a bar." The bar is indeed friendly, with patrons enjoying Steven's 20 well-chosen wines by the glass, six beers on tap and two "slushy" drinks: frozen rosé and Bellinis with either peach or strawberry purée? Enjoy a quiet meal here, solo or à deux. There's also a large communal table in the bar area, but most of the eating happens in the more formal dining room. As promised, the menu is long on pasta, 18 in all, ranging from classics such as fettuccine Bolognese, pesto Genovese, rigatoni alla vodka and linguine with clam sauce to more inventive creations such as the satisfying but enigmatic tutta da fava, an old favorite that contains no fava beans but, instead, combines cannellini beans with shrimp, pancetta and spinach with farfalle. There are also appetizers and salads ($8 to $12) and a handful of entrees. Almost all entrees and pastas are less than $20. More info: 516-992-8400, stevenspasta.com 

Copper and Clay

Copper and Clay (6 W. Park Ave.): Long
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Copper and Clay (6 W. Park Ave.): Long Island is having a taco moment, and Copper and Clay has arrived just in time. This super-casual eatery, from the owners of nearby Wild Feast, opened in May and has two legs up on much of the competition: tortillas made by hand throughout the day, and real tacos al pastor, filled with spiced pork that rotates, gyro style, on a vertical rotisserie. Thanks to an open kitchen, you can watch the show. The taco roster also includes braised beef barbacoa, chicken mole, carne asada and, for vegetarians, avocado with refried beans and cotija cheese, as well as seaworthy tacos filled with seared local monkfish, Gulf shrimp, yellowfin tuna and octopus. Tacos are $4.50 to $5.50 each. Beyond tacos are tostadas, nachos, tamales, quesadillas, guacamole and salads. Nothing is more than $10. More info: 516-992-0628, copperandclaylb.com 

JJ Coopers

JJ Coopers (124 W. Park Ave.): After 17
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

JJ Coopers (124 W. Park Ave.): After 17 years, Rob Richards decided his Park Avenue restaurant, Sutton Place, needed a reboot. "In our business, you need to make a change every seven to 10 years -- we were overdue," he said. And so, Richards knocked down walls, replaced dark mahogany with reclaimed wood, and, after a monthlong renovation, opened JJ Coopers in November. Richards' partners in the venture are chef Matt Serra and general manager Matt Vascellaro. Serra, who also ran Sutton Place's kitchen, has kept the burgers and wings, but has added New American and Italianate dishes such as sesame-crusted tuna satay, watermelon and feta salad, crab-crusted filet mignon and lobster Bolognese. Starters range from $9 to $16, sandwiches and burgers from $12 to $16, mains from $23 to $30. Weekly specials include ribs on Mondays, wings on Wednesdays, steak on Thursdays. One thing that hasn't changed is this restaurant's size: It sprawls over five distinct dining areas: sidewalk tables, a big bar with sports on TV, a quieter adjoining dining room, a patio out back and, for parties or overflow, another dining room upstairs. More info: 516-431-3133, jjcoopers.com

Lola's Craft Kitchen & Cocktails

Lola's Craft Kitchen & Cocktails (180 W. Park
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Lola's Craft Kitchen & Cocktails (180 W. Park Ave.): A Long Beach stalwart, Lola's Kitchen & Wine Bar had occupied this corner since 2008. It was one of the first restaurants to come back after Sandy, reopening three weeks after the superstorm left 3 feet of water in the dining room. But in January, owner Marco McCarthy closed the place; when it reopened in May, the tropical décor had been replaced with a "more local beachy theme that reflects Montauk, the Hamptons -- and Long Beach." Palm fronds have given way to bleached wood and seascapes. The kitchen got an upgrade too, with new executive chef Jeffery Slade, formerly of Madison's on Hillside (Williston Park) and The Farmhouse (Greenport), among other local kitchens. His menu is dominated by "share plates" ($11 to $18) such as mint-glazed lamb chops with fennel ragout, braised short ribs with steak fries and watercress puree, fried calamari with gazpacho broth. There are also a handful of mains ($19 to $34), soups, sandwiches and sides. On the drinks front, McCarthy is bullish on half bottles of wine: he stocks 16 of them, along with a comparable number of full bottles and wines by the glass. More info: 516-442-1090

Baked by the Ocean

Baked by the Ocean (919 W. Beech St.):
Photo Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

Baked by the Ocean (919 W. Beech St.): With such ambitious eateries as Lost & Found, Lost at Sea and Blacksmith's Breads, the West End of Long Beach has emerged as one of the Island's hippest culinary scenes. Baked by the Ocean is the pastry shop that was destined to open here. It represents a homecoming for its owner, Catherine Schimenti, who grew up in Lynbrook but left after high school to pursue a high-flying career as a pastry chef on both coasts. Among other restaurants, she ran the pastry departments at Tom Colicchio's Craft Steak in New York and Michael Mina in San Francisco. Light streams into this month-old corner location, and the décor has a playful chic. White and wood tones predominate, with winks of pink and gold. Schimenti said she wanted to create "a more relaxed environment" than at the restaurants she worked at, and "to make more approachable food." She's taken her signature olive oil pound cake and instead of serving, restaurant style, with macerated strawberries and olive oil gelato, she frosts it with pink icing and sells it by the fat slab. Yeast doughnuts are sprinkled with sugar and stuffed with their own holes, and rainbow cookies stick to a limited, ombre palette of intensifying pinks. There are cookies and brownies and whoopie pies, cupcakes and linzer tarts and lemon bars. The gluten-sensitive Schimenti always has some gluten-free options on hand. Most items are in the $3 to $3.50 range. Coffee is from local roaster Gentle Brew, and wine service is forthcoming. More info: 516-889-2253

Island Thyme

Island Thyme (780 W. Beech St.):
Photo Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

Island Thyme (780 W. Beech St.): "Catering to every dietary restriction" doesn't sound like the most promising foundation for a restaurant, but Island Thyme makes it delicious. Owners Jonathan Keyser and RJ Moulton have dedicated this casual spot, which opened in May, to "clean eating," which has them making their own ketchup, turkey sausage, vegetarian burgers and gluten-free, dairy-free muffins. Breakfast is a big deal here, served until 11 a.m. on weekdays, 2 p.m. on weekends. The "butcher's breakfast," served on a wooden cutting board, features turkey sausage, scrambled eggs, peppers and onions, greens and sweet potato hash. There are burgers (beef, turkey, salmon, veggie and bean), wraps and salad. Of course, you'll find fresh juices, smoothies, acai bowls and kombucha on tap. Mains, such as roast chicken and grilled hanger steak, range from $15.50 to $21; almost everything else on the menu is less than $14. The walls of this corner spot open to let in the beach air. The décor, with lots of reclaimed wood and greenery, would be at home in Long Beach, California. More info: 516-665-8547, islandthymelbny.com 

Laurel Luncheonette & Restaurant

Laurel Luncheonette & Restaurant (300 W. Park Ave.):
Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Laurel Luncheonette & Restaurant (300 W. Park Ave.): A Long Beach standby since 1932, the Laurel reopened this year after a gut renovation restored it to Art Deco splendor. Brothers Andrew and Peter Loucas also updated and streamlined the menu and now proudly serve a burger made with a proprietary beef blend from Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors. Of course you can still order a classic cherry lime rikki, a disarmingly red-and-green fountain drink that the Laurel claims to have invented. More info: 516-432-7728, laureldiner.com 

Wildfeast

Wildfeast (10 W. Park Ave.): This cool, contemporary
Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Wildfeast (10 W. Park Ave.): This cool, contemporary newcomer rocks Long Beach's main drag. More info: 516-442-7284, wildfeastfoods.com 

Rip Tides 11561

Rip Tides 11561 (1 Edwards Blvd.): Beach fare
Photo Credit: Melissa McCart

Rip Tides 11561 (1 Edwards Blvd.): Beach fare need not be cookie-cutter in nature. That's the idea behind Riptides 11561 in Long Beach, a new restaurant on the boardwalk with its own little beach. Housed in a city-owned building, the walk-up window is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The new venture from Jason Barje, Brian Braddish and Jeffrey Grossman offers chowder, fried clams and oysters, fish and chips, tacos and burgers. Prices range from $4 to $5 for tacos and $10 to $15 for sandwiches. No need to bring an order back to your beach chair. The crew has set up a "beach," with sand, colorful picnic tables and palm trees on the north side of the boardwalk. More info: 516-600-9011

Tandoor Grill Indian Cuisine

Tandoor Grill Indian Cuisine (1042 W. Beech St.):
Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Tandoor Grill Indian Cuisine (1042 W. Beech St.): The tandoor is the traditional bell-shaped clay oven of the Punjab (shared by India and Pakistan) and it lends its name to this new restaurant under the same ownership as Baldwin's Raagani. All manner of kebabs and roast meats -- as well as breads -- issue from the tandoor, and there are scores of curries, rice dishes and vegetarian dishes as well. Open for lunch and dinner. More info: 516-766-4440, tandoorgrillny.com 

Pammy Cake Creations

Pammy Cake Creations (966 W. Beech St.): Satisfy
Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Pammy Cake Creations (966 W. Beech St.): Satisfy your sweet tooth at Pammy Cake Creations, a new bakery owned by Pamela Kreutzberg. In addition to cakes, pies and bars, Kreutzberg makes beach-themed cupcakes decorated with seashells and umbrellas ($3.50) and mini-cupcakes ($14.95 for a dozen). The younger set will appreciate the easy-to-eat (and difficult to make a mess of) cake push-pops ($3), each contained in a little plastic tube. Coffee drinks to go, too. More info: 516-315-9151, pammycakecreations.com 

Grotta di Fuoco

Grotta di Fuoco (960 W. Beech St.): After
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Grotta di Fuoco (960 W. Beech St.): After a day baking on the beach, enter the "cave of fire." Chef-owner Andrew Allotti's soulful modern Italian was one of 2014's standout restaurants. The focal point of the rustic-hip room is a wood-fired oven putting out smoky, blistered, terrific little pizzas (try the pork-heavy tre porcellini with sausage, prosciutto and guanciale). Also recommended: fettuccine carbonara, eggplant fries sparked with Calabrian chilies and roasted fish. Open for dinner only. More info: 516-544-2400, grottalbny.com 

Das Biergarten

Das Biergarten (1148 W. Beech St.): Das Biergarten
Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Das Biergarten (1148 W. Beech St.): Das Biergarten injects the West End with a shot of Gemutlichkeit, the German term for a feeling of warmth and cheer. Here's the place to sample wursts, schnitzels (fried cutlets), sauerbraten and cheese spaetzle. Not that Das Biergarten is ignoring das bier. Hetzler taps six brews from Munich-based Paulaner, plus Radeberger Pilsner, Schofferhofer Grapefruit Hefeweizen and others. Open for lunch and dinner. More info: 516-897-2437, dasbiergarten.com 

Waffle Cabin

Waffle Cabin (874B W. Beech St.): There are
Photo Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus

Waffle Cabin (874B W. Beech St.): There are no tables at Waffle Cabin -- there's not even a door. The tiny new eatery dispenses its signature Belgian waffles from a window that fronts on West Beech Street, Long Beach's newest culinary hot spot. The waffles, the thick, buttery "Liege-style" variety whose square nooks and crannies glisten with caramelized sugar, are made right at the window in heavy-duty waffle irons. They are served warm and sticky with caramel, either plain or doused with chocolate sauce. More info: 781-910-2073, wafflecabin.com 

Lost & Found

Lost and Found (951 W. Beech St.): Alexis
Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Lost and Found (951 W. Beech St.): Alexis Trolf, former chef and co-owner of the departed Caffe Laguna, returns to the West End with this hip, pocket-size restaurant that puts the emphasis on carefully crafted small plates of vegetables (shaved carrots with roasted chickpeas, cilantro and spiced yogurt), fish (roasted skate wing with braised radishes) and meat (miso-glazed duck breast with herb salad and pickled shallots). You can also share a whole roast chili-lime chicken or dry-aged rib-eye steak. Open for dinner only. Cash only. More info: 516-442-2606

Shoregasboard

Shoregasboard (Intersection of Riverside Boulevard and the boardwalk):
Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Shoregasboard (Intersection of Riverside Boulevard and the boardwalk): Now in its third year, Shoregasboard is a beachside convocation of local food trucks that form a circle around a sandy little plaza of umbrella-topped tables. New this year is Poseidon's Kitchen (pictured). Alan Artieda's surf-and-turf-themed mobile eatery makes a meaty lobster roll ($14), crunchy fish taco ($5), juicy beef burger ($7) and savory black-bean burger ($5). Spice anything up with Artieda's shockingly green Peruvian hot sauce. You'll also find C&C by the Sea, a mobile luncheonette serving breakfast, burgers and sandwiches; NY Acai, serving fruit-based smoothies and bowls; Let's Get Delicious, serving barbecue from Swingbelly's as well as gyros, fish sandwiches and chicken fingers, and Pineapple Express, serving frozen yogurt from Long Beach's Tutti Frutti. Trucks are dispatched from local restaurants Corazon de Cuba, Sugo, Don Juan, Point Lookout Deli, Whales Tales, Lido Kosher Deli and Villagio.

Gentle Brew

Gentle Brew (151 E. Park Ave.): Gentle Brew
Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Gentle Brew (151 E. Park Ave.): Gentle Brew is one of Long Island's leading coffee purveyors, with beans sourced from all over the world and roasted in the store. Enjoy your joe pulled from the espresso machine, dripped, cold-brewed, siphoned, French-pressed, poured over, Chemex-carafed or AeroPressed. Get your coffee (or freshly brewed tea) to go and head straight to the beach, or linger in one of the easy chairs or sofas. More info: 516-605-2370, gentlebrewcoffee.com 

Dough Hut

Dough Hut (891 W. Beech St.): This 3-year-old
Photo Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus

Dough Hut (891 W. Beech St.): This 3-year-old doughnut factory is a must-stop on the way to the beach. Get there early enough and you'll see fresh doughnuts being made right through the window. Varieties range from classic (plain, cinnamon) to imaginative (pistachio, French toast) to out-there (Fruity Pebbles, maple-bacon). On weekends, there's a roster of chocolate-based doughnuts, including cookies and cream and cannoli. More info: 516-432-1400

Swingbellys BBQ

Swingbellys BBQ (909 W. Beech St.): Sandy wiped
Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Swingbellys BBQ (909 W. Beech St.): Sandy wiped out this well-regarded barbecue spot, but it's back with a new dining room, new menu items and Dan Monteforte, the former chef-pitmaster who is now part of the new ownership team. "Southern barbecue with a New York twist" is how Monteforte describes the cooking. Eat inside or at picnic tables on the deck. Open for lunch, weekend brunch and dinner. More info: 516-431-3464, swingbellysbbq.com 

Brixx & Barley

Brixx & Barley (152 W. Park Ave.): Brixx
Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Brixx & Barley (152 W. Park Ave.): Brixx & Barley satisfies a lot of appetites. Beer nuts will appreciate the 30-plus brews on tap and 30 more in bottles; sports fans can focus on the flat-screen TVs; and kids are welcome, too. The menu features pizza, salads, brick-oven-roasted wings with a choice of 10 toppings, and hearty fare ranging from an over-sized porchetta hero to ale-battered fish tacos. Brixx & Barley also has a takeout operation dispensing pizza and gelato. More info: 516-544-4511, brixxandbarley.com 

Ra-Kang Thai Cuisine

Ra-Kang Thai Cuisine (895 W. Beech St.): This
Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Ra-Kang Thai Cuisine (895 W. Beech St.): This year-old family-run restaurant serves fresh, clean Thai cuisine in a dining room appointed with parasol-concealed lights, intricate carved wall details and dozens of little cast-bronze bells ("rakang" means "bell"). Standards such as spring rolls, pad Thai and papaya salad are well executed, as are less common dishes such as nam sod (a salad of ground pork, fresh ginger, scallions and peanuts); crispy duck panang with bright green beans in a coconut sauce, and savory noodle soup with braised beef, meatballs and Chinese broccoli. Open for lunch and dinner. More info: 516-442-1313, rakanglongbeach.com 

Gino's

Gino's (16 W. Park Ave.): If you need
Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Gino's (16 W. Park Ave.): If you need to grab a slice, head to Gino's, which has been serving pizza since 1962. This Long Beach institution is always busy, so the pizza is always fresh. Take it to the beach or sit at a table, inside or out. You can also have a proper Italian meal in the table-service dining room. There's nothing surprising about the menu here, just generous portions of well-priced Italian-American standards. More info: 516-432-8193, ginoslongbeach.com 

Corazon de Cuba

Corazon de Cuba (26 E. Park Ave.): This
Photo Credit: Barbara Alper

Corazon de Cuba (26 E. Park Ave.): This ebullient Cuban eatery is a good choice for lunch or dinner (as the night progresses, the good cheer can ripen into cacophony). The Long Beach salpicon -- a simple, lemony salad of shrimp, calamari, scallops and mussels -- makes a terrific light meal. Heartier recommendations include the lime-garlic-marinated roast chicken, lechon asado (roast pork) and lusty beef-cheese caserola de quesos. Save room for the rice-pudding-stuffed empanadas. More info: 516-272-4200, corazondecubany.com 

Fresco Creperie

Fresco Creperie (150 E. Park Ave.): After an
Photo Credit: Nicholas Roberts

Fresco Creperie (150 E. Park Ave.): After an evening stroll along the boardwalk, head to this friendly cafe and order one of the excellent dessert crepes, stuffed with the likes of banana and Belgian chocolate, dulce de leche and strawberries, honey and toasted almond, fresh oranges and caramel or -- not to be outdone -- butter, sugar and cinnamon. Salads and savory crepes (try "the complete" with Gruyere, ham, eggs and onion) also are recommended. More info: 516-897-8097, frescocreperie.com 

LB Social

LB Social (62 W. Park Ave.): Matt Hisiger,
Photo Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus

LB Social (62 W. Park Ave.): Matt Hisiger, who earned four stars from Newsday at the former Panama Hatties in Huntington, is owner and chef of LB Social, a moderately priced neighborhood that replaces Sugo. The remodeled the restaurant -- now featuring Edison light bulbs, exposed brick and poured concrete -- features a modern menu of updated comfort classics and a creative cocktail list with an emphasis on absinthe. More info: 516-431-7846, lbsocialny.com 

Farmers Market at Kennedy Plaza

Farmers Market at Kennedy Plaza, Next to LIRR
Photo Credit: Aaron Zebrook

Farmers Market at Kennedy Plaza, Next to LIRR station: Long Beach's vibrant farmers market is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m to 2 p.m. If you're looking for fresh produce for the beach, make it your first stop. You'll also find fresh bread, pastries, cheese, pickles and more. More info: 516-543-6033

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