OK, Long Island, it’s been a while: When was the last time you went to a great party, in a gorgeous space, with memorable food?
This fall, some people seem eager to gather again, after spending so much time apart during the pandemic. Maybe you’re turning 40, or your kid is newly engaged, or your dad finally retired. Maybe you just want to see all your friends’ faces in one room again.
Of course, celebrations these days look a bit different than they did in "the before times."
First, parties are smaller. Many hosts are limiting invites to a handful of families or capping their groups at 50 people. Sometimes, hosts (or venues) require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test; sometimes they’ll ask guests to wear masks. But as we adjust to the evolving pandemic landscape, many Long Islanders are increasingly poised to let the good times roll...at least, a little bit.
In the spirit of getting together again, we've searched for distinctive Long Island venues for smallish gatherings. These spots offer excellent food, great service and a charming setting. But the company? That’s up to you.
With rare exceptions, listed prices do not include taxes and gratuities; rates are at the restaurants’ discretion and subject to change.
7 Gerard Wood-Fired Grill
7 Gerard St., Huntington; 631-944-3777; 7gerard.com
THE PARTY: Parties of up to 70 can take over this posh American restaurant’s third floor balcony to commune over family-style Brussels sprouts Caesars, spicy tuna maki wrapped in shaved cucumber and wild-mushroom Bolognese. In the lounge area, your guests can snuggle up near the fireplace, or peep over the rail to spy the comings and goings on the restaurant’s lower floors.
PRICE: Meals (served family-style) start at $55 per person for three courses, plus a "welcome" cocktail.
Ayhan’s Shish-Kebab Restaurant
283 Main St., Port Washington; 516-883-9309 and 550 Sunrise Highway, Baldwin; 516- 223-1414; ayhansrestaurants.com
THE PARTY: Restaurateur Ayhan Hassan’s whitewashed gathering spaces conjure the sunny Mediterranean with sheer white curtains that flow from ceiling to floor and a veritable jungle of hanging plants. Feast on seven courses of Anatolian mezze and falafel, flaky spanakopita and a sizzling array of kebabs, then wrap it up with strong coffee and custard pie.
PRICE: $35-70 per person, with brunch on the cheap (includes mimosa or Bloody Mary) and weekend night dinners — with or without an open bar of top-shelf liquor — on the pricier end.
La Fin Kitchen & Lounge
474 W. Lake Drive, Montauk; 631-668-8344; lafinkitchen.com
THE PARTY: On the docks of Lake Montauk, newcomer La Fin was one of this summer’s "it" places to see and be seen, with elegant (yet crushable) cocktails made with organic spirits, a rosé list 20 bottles strong, and house DJs bumping aural ambience. Chef Chris Brandt puts a local spin on coastal French fare, with heaping bowls of mussels, swimming in white wine broth and sided with fries; local fluke with blood orange; and salade Niçoise. Groups of 50 or fewer can book the breezy covered patio and watch fishing boats meander in and out of the harbor, while parties of up to 65 can rent out the whole restaurant. Hot tip: When the weather’s nice, smaller groups (15 or less) can enjoy a pampered, wine-soaked three-hour feast on the plush couches in La Fin’s private seaside lounge spaces.
PRICE: Group events start at $105 person for three courses, served family style; beverages are billed on consumption.
13 E. Main St., Patchogue; 631-569-5944; rhumpatchogue.com
THE PARTY: Reggae music warms the airwaves at this trendy Caribbean joint. While the restaurant’s dedicated private dining room features porthole windows and a comfy room-length banquette, many groups prefer the sun-soaked third floor, with its campy island-nautical décor (the bar "stools" are swings hung from heavy jute rope) and view of the lively bar below. Planning a summer soiree? Post up on a porch swing on the funky rooftop bar.
PRICE: Brunches, which include three courses and a drink, run $34-38 per person; three-course lunches (think: rum punch, pimento dip, jerk chicken, Key lime pie) range from around $28-32 per head; dinners, three or four courses, run $32-48. Buffet service available for groups larger than 30; smaller parties may be subject to a cash minimum.
Jedediah Hawkins Inn & Restaurant
400 S. Jamesport Ave., Riverhead; 631-722-2900; jedediahhawkinsinn.com
THE PARTY: History runs deep at Jamesport’s Jedediah Hawkins Inn. While the place is best known for its robust wedding business, smaller groups can duck into any of the property’s nooks and crannies for drinks, light bites, or a full-on meal. The atmospheric Speakeasy, with its fieldstone walls and old brick floor, can accommodate 15 guests for strong cocktails and plates such as wild mushroom potpie, beef short ribs braised in wine or roasted halibut. Thinking about brunch? The solarium offers a long farm table, garden views and glass walls.
PRICE: Plated, three-course meals start at $85 per person; alcohol billed on consumption.
90 N. Country Rd., Miller Place; 631-473-0014; restaurantorto.com
THE PARTY: Long Island lore meets rustic old-world fare at Chef Eric Lomando’s beloved Italian tavern. Here, groups can soak in the historic charm —hand-hewn beams and terra cotta floors — during parties at the Daniel Miller House. On the menu? Risotto balls filled with hearty Bolognese, handmade noodles with pork shoulder ragu, or roast duck with polenta and greens.
PRICE: Sit-down lunch or brunch packages start at $32 per person. Requests for evening restaurant buyout affairs entertained on a case-by-case basis; all sit-down private events must exceed $850 before tax/gratuity.
5600 Merrick Rd., Massapequa; 516-620-0057; salumibarli.com
THE PARTY: In Massapequa, groups of 30 or fewer can take over Salumi’s rustic, wood-lined market space for a convivial wine-and-tapas party. The evening begins with cocktails, fine wine and generous platters of cured meats and artisan cheeses, followed by (more drinks) and salads cold and warm, toasts loaded with smoked salmon or soft, stringy stracciatella, and finally, carving boards bearing dry-aged steak and marrow bones, veggies and tangy onion jam. Finished with Spanish hot chocolate, it’s a free-flowing, talk-to-everyone sort of soiree with food that’s as inspiring as the company. Available Sunday through Thursday only.
PRICE: $100 per person; includes meat-and-cheese boards, salads, steak boards, hot chocolate and all beverages.
That Meetball Place
206 Main St., Farmingdale; 516-586-8880; thatmeetballplaceli.com
THE PARTY: Parties of 20 or more can "meat here" for quirky takes on classic pub fare. Nosh on meatball sliders and wings, crisp-bottomed flatbreads topped with creamy mac and cheese, and crunchy risotto balls speckled pink with lobster. Reserve the upstairs balcony and overlook the restaurant’s main dining area, or treat your guests to a speakeasy-style experience (and chef’s tasting menus) in a brick-lined vault tucked below Farmingdale’s main drag.
PRICE: Events start at $35 per person for a cocktail-style soiree with five apps (passed or served family-style). Add alcohol for $25-40 per person, or opt for a weekend bottomless brunch, starting at $37.
OHK Bar and Restaurant at Oheka Castle
135 West Gate Drive, Huntington; 631-659-1350; ohkbarandrestaurant.com
THE PARTY: If you’re feeling spendy, you can party like it’s 1919 at this Cold Spring Harbor Gilded Age estate. The 100,000 square foot manse has been a popular wedding destination for years, and with the addition of an in-house restaurant in 2013, it now plays host to non-nuptial affairs that range from cocktail receptions to coursed sit-down dinners. In Chaplin’s Bar, parties of up to 30 can sip prohibition-era cocktails with bar snacks, while the restaurant’s luxe main dining room and courtyard piazza can accommodate parties of 60 and 75 respectively.
PRICE: Cocktail and dinner packages start at $100 per person; room fees are $1,500 (Chaplin’s) and $5,000 (dining room, courtyard).
72 Bayside Drive, Point Lookout; 516-456-4204; buoybarli.com
THE PARTY: For an unpretentious seafood feast, convene your crew at Point Lookout’s bay-front Buoy Bar. As autumn sets in, groups can tip back littlenecks by the dozen or nosh on bowls of steamers bathed in basil broth, plus crab cakes, tuna tacos and seafood fettuccine. On warmer days, eat with your feet in the water at the bar’s sandy beach.
PRICE: Three-hour parties ( passed bites or buffet-style) start at $55 per person; add beer, wine and soda for $10 per person, or full bar for $20. 40-50 person minimum depending on day of week.