If the unprecedented challenges of the last few years haven’t slowed the torrent of new eateries on Long Island, nothing will. And 2023 promises to swell the restaurant ranks even more. Here are nine new places we are looking forward to.
Hilltop Kitchen & Bar in Syosset
Anyone traveling along Jericho Turnpike in Syosset over the last year has noticed the spectacle of a deconsecrated Friendly’s being transformed into the sprawling and splashy Hilltop Kitchen & Bar, set to open this January. Nick Arahovitis, whose family owns Hilltop, said that it would be “that local place where anyone can come for a weekday family meal or a weekend date night.” The “elevated American” menu will be the purview of chef Ian Russo who ran Plainview’s DirtyBurger from 2013 to 2020. More info: hilltopkitchenandbar.com
Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao in Westbury
One of Flushing’s most celebrated purveyors of xiao long bao (soup dumplings), Nan Xiang has been recommended by the Michelin Guide for its Shanghainese cuisine. A second branch is slated to open in Westbury’s Samanea New York Mall (formerly the Source) on Old Country Road. Samanea also hosts the Asian supermarket 99 Ranch Market. Other Asian restaurants that have signed leases include Ichiddo Ramen and a huge new MoCA Asian Bistro, a 26,000-square-foot facility that will serve not only as a restaurant but also a central kitchen and event venue. Nan Xiang Xiao is planning a January opening. More info: nanxiangxiaolongbao.com
Uncle Frank’s in Wantagh
Chris Perrotta and Frank Ubriaco are on a roll. Their acclaimed Blackbird Kitchen & Cocktails debuted in Wantagh in 2016 and they didn’t make another move until last year when they took over Woodbury’s Rustic Root. Now they are opening Uncle Frank’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Cocktails in the old Corry’s Ale House, on Sunrise Highway in Wantagh, which will give Perrotta a chance to exercise his pizza muscles and GM Ubriaco to expand his bar program. They are hoping for a February opening.
Stone Street Wood Fired Grill in Garden City
Art Gustafson started his restaurant empire in Rockville Centre with Chadwicks and Salsa Mexicana. In 2019, he headed to Garden City with Primehouse Steaks & Sushi. Now comes his most ambitious project yet: Gustafson name-checked P.T. Barnum and Willy Wonka when he described the 140-seat restaurant taking over the old Hurricane Grill & Wings on Stewart Avenue. There will be a grill burning wood and coal, huge murals, “an immersive bathroom experience” and two experienced Long Island’s chefs: Michael Ross (most recently at Pearl in Island Park) and John Brill (7 Gerard in Huntington, BLVD25 in Manhasset). Gustafson described their menu as “think Houston’s with live fire” and hopes to open in February. More info: stonestreetgrill.com
Duck Island Bakery in Huntington
Robert Biancavilla, who started Duck Island Bread Company a decade ago when he was still deputy chief of homicide for the Suffolk County district attorney, is hitting the big time. He’s expanding his tiny bakery on East Main Street in Huntington to a sparkling new location north of the village in the same gastronomically blessed Wall Street shopping center as Southdown Coffee and R & S Meat Market, Huntington Wine Cellar and Happy Farm greengrocer. Duck Island has always been one of LI’s best producers of baguettes, croissants and Old World breads; lately it’s added a line of cakes. Biancavilla has been testing out the equipment in the new space; he plans to be up and running the second week in January. More info: duckislandbreadcompany.com
Dario’s Pizza in West Hempstead
LI’s revisionist pizza trend continues apace with the opening of Dario’s, which takes over Sauly’s Pizza (now located less than a mile east on Hempstead Avenue). The slice shop is owned by Sergio DeCiantis (Cara Mia in Seaford plus five Guac Shops around Nassau), his cousin, Francesco Maola (Phil’s Pizzeria in North Massapequa), and the eponymous Dario Carosi, native Italian and seasoned baker who worked at L’Industrie Pizzeria in Brooklyn. Carosi is a dough nut who uses a variety of flours and pre-ferments to craft neo-New York pies (with the traditional eight slices but a high-hydration crust and elevated ingredients) and Roman-style pies baked both in a pan and directly on the floor of the oven. There will also be rice balls (suppli) and doughnuts (bomboloni). The team hopes to be open by mid-January. More info: dariospizzali.com
Birdie Bar in Northport
Louis Selvaggio Jr., who presides over Long Island’s most celebrity-magnetic restaurant, Robke’s of Northport, is branching out. He and his sister Mia are opening Birdie Bar just two blocks east on Fort Salonga Road. The Selvaggios have gutted the old Seven Quarts Tavern and installed a décor that, he says, will be "chic, a little clubby, and more upscale than Robke’s." The kitchen, run by chef Antonio Guillen (ex exec chef at H2O in Smithtown) will put out an upscale American menu and will, hopefully, begin serving by Valentine’s Day. More info: birdiebarnpt.com
Bar Clementine in Islip
The team behind The LakeHouse in Bay Shore has taken over the old Treme location at 553 Main St. in Islip and are turning it into a 40-seat high-end cocktail bar with hopes of opening in the spring. Partner Eileen Connors said that the vibe will be “happy hour in Paris” with a “civilized, grown-up décor” and a menu of straightforward French fare like a frisée salad with lardons and a poached egg, steak frites and a raw bar. Already in the works: a signature Clementine cocktail.
The State Room (et. al) in Patchogue
The State Room is just one of the three concepts that will be taking over the old Brick House Brewery since it changed ownership last year. Stephen Rizzo, Dave Prunier and Jim McPeak are involved in a number of South Shore restaurants (including Off the Block Kitchen & Meats and Sayville Athletic Club in Sayville; Tullulah's and King’s Chophouse in Bay Shore). Joining them will be chef Francis Derby (formerly of Prime in Huntington) and, on beverages, Bert Wiegand (Tullulah’s). The main floor of the restaurant (now devoid of brewing equipment) is still a work in progress that the team hopes will open by fall. Upstairs, The State Room, a cocktail bar serving seasonal small plates (including homemade pasta), is slated to open by the end of January. An adjoining event space will also host monthly events, the first one will be a fixed-price Valentine’s Day dinner.