Lovers of beef noodle soup, step this way… Hicksville has just welcomed a fast-casual outfit that prepares it alongside a bevy of homemade dumplings, skewers and other Chinese and Taiwanese dishes. Owner Leo Liu opened Noodumpling in the restaurant space next door to the Chinese supermarket Amart. The dining room has been toned down since its days at 365 Noodle Bar, and now has a minimalist fast casual aesthetic and comfy plush booths.
Bay Shore resident Michelle Panciarello, owner of the popular Eat Me, Drink Me catering trucks, has finally opened the doors to her latest, a brick and mortar that has been three years in the making. Prepare for a wait, as there are only four tables and some window bar seating — 12-15 seats at any given time — but once seated, you will be happy you invested your time. Whether it’s the countertop blueberry pop tarts that taste like summer or the whimsical oversized chocolate Ring Dings, most everything made at Brunch is made in-house or sourced locally.
Mama Chan's, Northport
This new Chinese restaurant is sleek and spare with a big fireplace. The succinct menu features 16 dishes, and there are 15 wines plus signature cocktails and craft beers.
Mac Shawarma, East Meadow
Don't step into Mac Shawarma looking for mac and cheese — you'll probably be disappointed. But if you want authentic spit-roasted shawarma (and Chinese taro balls), you are in luck. Based in an old Chinese takeout joint, this new restaurant may be the first on Long Island to specialize in shawarma wraps from the country of Georgia.
People's Pub, Bayport
Patty melts are making a comeback and the new People's Pub in Bayport is a handsome setting for a ground beef patty on rye. The bustling barroom looks fresh for being more than 150 years old, with a slick copper bar top and dark wood panels that resemble an English pub. The menu skirts between regional New England fare and British pub classics like stout stew and cottage pie.
Tony & Luigi's, Merrick
In the 13 years that cousins Lou Neglia and Anthony St. George have been in business together, they’ve opened La Bottega franchises in Syosset, Merrick and East Meadow. Having mastered the enormous takeout-friendly menu, they set their sights on a loftier goal: wood-fired Neapolitan pizza and a full-service bar. Their new spot turns out 20 classic 12-inch Naples-style pies.
Vice Doughnuts & Coffee, Farmingdale
It was 2021 when Joseph and Gina O’Brien launched their Vice Doughnuts & Coffee truck that canvassed the Town of Oyster Bay in search of java and doughnut-minded fans. They found their audience, and now, three years later, they have put down local roots at their first full-service shop on Main Street in their native Farmingdale.
Sanook Thai, Hicksville
Set in the former home of Chada Thai Bistro, Sanook is run by partners Dumrongsak "Pop” Chaichana and Sengdeuane Sisongksam, who hail from the northern Chiang Mai area and Thailand's eastern neighbor Laos, which is known for its intensely flavorful dishes. While their menu contains familiar classics such as Massaman curry and pad Thai, they also serve hard-to-find dishes like stewed beef noodle soup, crab fried rice and two varieties of Laotian pho.
Takumi Taco, Roslyn
Started as a stall in Williamsburg’s popular Smorgasburg open-air food market in 2012, Takumi Taco was embraced by the public and quickly expanded. Serving a mashup of Japanese inspired flavors in various taco vessels — crispy gyoza shells and corn tortillas, for example — Takumi Taco offers a selection of tacos (starting at $5) ranging from Japanese curry beef loaded with Napa cabbage slaw and Cotija cheese; chicken adobo with cilantro and onion; spicy tuna with jicama, avocado, cucumber, and radish; and a cauliflower al pastor.
Mr. Keke Ramen Hot Pot, Great Neck
Mr. Keke Ramen Hot Pot has taken over Ramen Totem, which specialized in noodle soups and Shanghainese dishes until it closed last summer. Now the space has a Japan-meets-Disneyland feel to it, with light wood paneling and a large cherry blossom tree that shoots its pink flowers all over the ceiling. New owners Ming Ge and Derike Su plan to open 10 of these fast casual hot pot restaurants in the next year.
Desi Bites Cafe, Hicksville
The delectable vegetarian menu at this new eatery focuses almost entirely on northern India’s street foods and snacks — gol gappa, falooda rabri, potato patty burgers dressed with noodles, grilled sandwiches of potato and green pepper and more — just like the first Desi Bites, which opened in the Queens neighborhood of Richmond Hill in 2020.
Caminito, Port Washington
Some of the best sandwiches in the world come from South America — especially Argentina, where the unique blend of European and New World influences creates a perfect storm of grilled meats spiked with vibrant sauces on fabulous crusty bread. Sara Damian adds yet another dimension to the mix at Caminito, a stylish new Port Washington cafe that specializes in Argentinian sandwiches and empanadas.
Sunflower Cafe and Bakery, Bayport
Stacé Hansen and her daughter Kathrine have taken over the 46-year-old French bistro Le Soir. The two kept many of the original menu items, but added their own contemporary twist to them. Options include over-the-top French onion soup, a massive Nicoise salad and a daily ice cream, which Stacé prepares in the style of French glacé by adding eggs, which thicken it like a frozen custard.
Yoyo Chicken, Baldwin
This new halal fast food joint has been gaining buzz with its powerhouse combo of simple but well-made smashburgers and fried chicken sandwiches. It opened late November in a Baldwin strip mall and although the dining room is pretty small — it used to be a Jamaican takeout spot — you can see why the place is popular. These smashburgers are good.
Itsuki Sushi, East Meadow
Itsuki opened in November in the space formerly known as La Piazzetta Cafe II, which closed during the pandemic. Very-good-for-the-price offerings include plates of nigiri with salmon ($3.50 for two pieces), tuna ($3.50) and yellowtail ($4). Solid roll choices: A rainbow (salmon, tuna, yellowtail, crab stick and avocado, $13) and a volcano (spicy tuna and flying fish roe, $12).
Insomnia Cookies, Hempstead
Founded at the University of Pennsylvania in 2003 by an insomniac looking for sweet, warm, dorm-delivered late-night munchies, Insomnia Cookies has grown to more than 260 locations nationwide. Now, the brand’s first Long Island bakery has opened in Hempstead, near Hofstra University.
This eatery, which opened in December, is a chicly designed fusion concept that melds Brazilian and Mexican cuisine. Their tacos get people in the door, but the classic Brazilian dishes are what really stand out here, as Brazico prepares icons like pão de queijo cheese bread and coxinha chicken croquettes, importing the dough and other products from Brazil.
Twisted Fork Brunch Company, Bellmore
This cheeky brunch spot sits in the former home of the Mediterranean Diner, a longtime staple of Bellmore's business district. The menu offers contemporary takes on nostalgic favorites, like a “bacon slab” of candied pork belly, a burrata omelet, avocado toasts and BEC-stuffed pretzels. Sweeter fare including pancakes, French toast and Belgian waffles can be made “twisted” by adding drizzled chocolate or bananas foster for an extra few dollars. But this kitchen is serious; the dishes show a high level of precision and there are surprisingly healthful spreads.
New York Fries, Garden City
This niche concept stars fresh cut, cooked-to-order French fries, served plain (with your choice of dipping sauce like ranch or chipotle aioli), or loaded with a variety of decadent toppings including beef chili, pulled pork, queso, pickled jalapeños, salsa and crumbled bacon.
Boris Safaniev and his family have opened three elegant, upscale restaurants in Cedarhurst — and all are kosher. The latest undertaking, Anju, serves contemporary Asian fusion and opened in December with Tomo Kobayashi, one of Long Island’s most accomplished Asian fusion chefs, running the kitchen. Kobayashi, the founding chef of Toku in Manhasset, has designed a menu that draws on Japanese, Korean and Chinese cuisines, infusing each with a little American cheek.
Siam Emerald, Rockville Centre
Siam Emerald may be the most ambitious Thai restaurant on Long Island, but for now it's still a hidden gem. The small restaurant opened in late December on a quiet stretch of Rockville Centre across from the Cathedral of St. Agnes. The menu features a lot of hard-to-find Thai specialties like spicy Northern Thai sausages and the iconic crab omelet that's become a hallmark of the Bangkok street food scene.
Deng Ji, Levittown
This Chinese restaurant has two locations in Flushing, Queens, and has opened its largest, most extravagant outpost in a strip mall near Tri-County Bazaar flea market. Despite the bustling crowd, the large dining room gives off a calming, serene warmth as it's designed to look like an outdoor space at a rural temple. Don't miss the noodle soup, a spectacle with dozens of ingredients tumbling into a cauldron of milky, boiling broth.
Roast Sandwich House, Bellmore
Roast Sandwich House, the expanding mini-chain known for its fast casual soup, salad and sandwich combos, has opened its fifth store — and first on the South Shore — in Bellmore. An immaculate storefront with 18 seats for dine-in, this shop mimics the lime green and blond wood palette of Roast’s Syosset, Mineola, Hicksville and Melville locations. “People were asking for a South Shore store, and we were finally able to deliver,” said Roast’s owner, Joseph Cordaro.
Honey's Bistro, Glen Head
Taking over the corner space on Railroad Avenue that used to house Flourish Bakeshop and All Day Café, Honey’s Bistro serves an all-day menu of coffee, pastries, soups, salads, sandwiches and rice bowls. Childhood friends Matthew Suckle, formerly of New York Chicken and Rice in Glen Cove, and Patrick O'Halloran, co-owner of Park Place in New Hyde Park, deliver a serene, welcoming spot bathed in soft pastels for ‘round the clock eats.
Sichuan Garden, East Setauket
This new Chinese eatery takes over the free-standing building that was the short-lived Sichuan hot-pot specialist Xiao Si Chuan. Credit for the restaurant’s early promise goes to Young Zhao and partner Kevin Lin. Born in Sichuan, Zhao was also owns Ichi Sushi & Ramen, 500 feet east of Sichuan Garden. “My customers encouraged me to open an authentic Chinese restaurant,” he said. “And they are already supporting it.”
Punjabi Chaap Corner, Hicksville
This quick-serve vegetarian restaurant, founded in India in 2012, has opened its first Long Island location in Hicksville. The draw here is the eponymous chaap, a mock meat made from soybeans that is wrapped around a wooden stick and grilled or roasted like a kebab. The menu also features paneer (cheese), potatoes, chickpeas and other pulses, plus Afghan-style momos (dumplings) and the great Indian street food, pani puri.
Marinara Pizza, Greenvale
The fare at this new pizza joint may look familiar — simple cheese, Margherita, white, Grandma and Sicilian pies; more elaborate ones topped with Buffalo chicken, eggplant Parm, Caesar salad or spinach and artichoke — but the presentation is outstanding. The most striking pie may be the MVP, with its bright, regimental stripes of marinara, vodka and pesto sauces.
Paros Grille, Great Neck
Ten months ago, Jimmy Tsolis made the heartbreaking decision to close the Seven Seas Diner, a place he'd spent the majority of his adult life. Diners are no longer profitable businesses, the Greek native lamented at the time, and a full concept change was the only hope. That new concept is Paros, an upscale Greek restaurant serving the classics alongside a changing menu of fresh-not-frozen seafood sourced from their longtime supplier, Marine Fishery. There is valet parking in the evenings, and an emphasis on cocktails and imported Greek wines.
Viva Tulum, Baldwin
At Viva Tulum, an immaculate storefront on the south side of Merrick Road, with seven tables, four bar seats and a flat-screen TV at top volume, the offerings exceed the usual Tex-Mex fare by adding American comfort classics to the mix. In addition to the tacos, nachos and burritos, there’s also mozzarella sticks and potato skins. The standout is the trio of birria tacos with dipping consommé alongside. And don’t miss the aguas frescas.
Yankee Doodle Dandy's, Islip
Josh Gatewood is on a mission to get Northerners as excited about fried chicken tenders as are Southerners. He established three Yankee Doodle Dandy’s food trucks in Manhattan to spread the news, and with partner Anthony Mastrantonio, has now opened the first brick-and-mortar location, in Islip. The tenders can be had on a platter such as the “Winner Winner” with fries, thick-cut and griddled Texas toast and your choice of potato salad, coleslaw or a pickle spear. There's also chicken sandwiches, grilled cheese and shakes. Nothing on the menu is more than $15.
Mateo's Cantina, Wantagh
The menu at this new Mexican spot is substantial, but not overwhelming, with portions on the heartier side. The usual suspects make a showing: quesadillas, smothered enchiladas, hefty chimichangas, meaty tacos and DIY fajitas. More upscale flourishes include grilled skirt steak, shrimp aguachile and a red snapper Veracruzana. The back of the menu is full of cocktail options, from margaritas to micheladas, wine and an array of Mexican beers.
Mito Modern Japanese Cuisine, Babylon
This sleek Japanese fusion concept is now open in the historic Bank of Babylon building. Mito is just as flashy as its predecessor, Monsoon, and its biggest strength seems to be its sushi. The soft opening menu dances between Japanese and Chinese standards, with a whole section of wok dishes (kung pao chicken, General Tso's, etc.) as well as a respectable dumpling program.
Honami Sushi Hibachi & Lounge, Huntington Station
“We wanted a place with high-end-style sushi that’s still affordable,” says co-owner Wei Xiao, of this cavernous, new restaurant — airy, bright, with blond wood everywhere — that seats up to 350, including 10 at its sushi bar, several on the patio (weather-permitting), many around a dozen hibachi stations in an area off the main dining room, plus a dozen more in an attractive private room with tatami mat-style seating.
Oak & Orange, Mineola
This cafe is still in the soft opening phase, but the Japanese egg salad sando, made with a generous amount of Kewpie mayo, is a highlight of the current menu. In addition to a small number of salads and baked goods, Oak and Orange also serves coffee from Southdown, and has a small market that focuses on artisanal food products from women- and minority-owned vendors.
Abbott's Frozen Custard, Lindenhurst
This custard chain, founded in Rochester in 1926, has opened its first Long Island location in Lindenhurst. Abbott’s uses a base mix that is hand delivered to the store daily, where the custard's flavors, of which there are a rotating eight, are churned fresh in custom machines that remove all the air from the mixture. Vanilla, chocolate and chocolate almond are always available, and at the Lindenhurst opening, pistachio pineapple, rainbow cookie, peppermint, cotton candy and a dairy-free cherry were also being featured.