The Bluebird Burger at Bluebird Kitchen in Bellmore.

The Bluebird Burger at Bluebird Kitchen in Bellmore. Credit: Brittainy Newman

Summer's coming--and so are all the new restaurants, many with spruced-up outdoor patios that offer al fresco dining. Newsday's food critics curated the top new spots to try this season:

Ruta Oaxaca (30 E. Main St., Patchogue): Ruta Oaxaca, specializing in regional Mexican cuisine, takes over what had been Patchogue’s Swell Taco, and one of the things that drew the owners to the space was the secluded, 60-seat patio out back which they have decorated like a Mexican courtyard. It’s a perfect place to knock back one of the eight beers on tap, 11 specialty margaritas, or dozens of artisanal tequilas and mezcals. But don’t forgo the food. Chefs (and brothers) Carlos and Felipe Arellanos aim to present all the complexities and refinements of the authentic Mexican kitchen with a focus on their hometown of Oaxaca (pronounced “wah-HAH-kah”) in the country’s south, renowned for its intricate, chili-based sauces called moles. More info: 631-569-2233, rutaoaxacamex.com

The chori queso appetizer with a side of roasted potatoes...

The chori queso appetizer with a side of roasted potatoes and an Amante Picante cocktail at Ruta Oaxaca in Patchogue. Credit: Linda Rosier

Serra Provisions (7 Sintsink Dr. E., Port Washington): Snake your way through Manorhaven’s light-industrial zone and, right before you hit the marina on Manhasset Bay, you’ll see a low-slung, shipshape building that bears the legend: Salumeria / Italian specialty / Artisanal shop / Paninoteca. This is the workshop of former NYC chef Jesse Olson, who moved to the area in 2020 from Brooklyn and opened Serra Provisions late last year. Inside you’ll find housemade fresh and dried pasta and sauces, exquisite imported groceries, prepared salads and side, fresh sandwiches and, on weekdays, pizza from a wood-fired oven. All the food can be enjoyed outside at the shop’s picnic tables. The shop is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. More info: 516-321-9393, serraprovisions.com

The Take me to Sardegna pizza made with zucchini, squash...

The Take me to Sardegna pizza made with zucchini, squash blossoms, ricotta, botarga, lemon zest and chili oil at Serra Provision in Port Washington. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

O Mandarin (600 W. Old Country Rd., Hicksville): Long Island is replete with waterside fish restaurants, Italian piazzas and steakhouse decks, but the options for Asian dining al fresco are relatively limited. Enter Hicksville’s new O Mandarin. With its sumptuous interior and refined regional Chinese menu (courtesy of Beard award-semifinalist chef, Eric Gao), it redefined East Asian dining here and, once the weather warmed up, owner Peter Liu ripped out the restaurant’s landscaping and installed seating for about 100. The tables are situated along Old Country Road, but their fast-growing screen of bamboo gets higher and denser by the day. Anyway, your attention will be directed toward Peking duck with all the trimmings, a ziggurat of wok-braised shrimp crowned with microgreens, pan-fried rectangular dumplings stacked like Lincoln Logs, a tremblingly tender whole pork shank cradled in a stop-sign-sized lotus leaf. More info: 516-622-6666, omandarin.com

Mandarin pork shank with onion, jalapeno, scallion, wild pepper, and...

Mandarin pork shank with onion, jalapeno, scallion, wild pepper, and potato at O Mandarin in Hicksville. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

La Estacion Deli & Pizzeria (22 1st Ave., Brentwood): This halal restaurant serving traditional Pakistani food, plus pizza, burgers, heroes, tacos, quesadillas, rotisserie chicken, Peruvian specialties, fresh juices and breakfast. On weekends there’s also a buffet and barbecue starting at noon. Where to sit? Where not to sit? There’s a large dining room, a large tent, a still-larger patio and an enormous lawn featuring picnic tables, private igloos and inflatable bounce houses with slides. Owners Shah and Haroon Majid took over the decommissioned Brentwood LIRR station, turned it into this eatery for all seasons and dubbed it, fittingly, La Estacion. Shah said that the spot can accommodate up to 400 people and is already a popular party spot. More info: 631-231-3131, laestaciondeli.com

The chicken karahi with sesame naan and salad at La...

The chicken karahi with sesame naan and salad at La Estacion in Brentwood. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Nino’s Beach (43 Orchard Beach Blvd., Port Washington): Safe Harbor Capri East, the marina overlooking Manhasset Bay has hosted a series of outdoor restaurants over the last half century, none of them lasting more than a few summers, but the latest incarnation, Nino’s Beach, looks to have staying power. Owners (and brothers) Franco and Michael Vendome gutted the facility and installed a sparkling venue — in tones of stone, alabaster, marble and brass — that boasts two dining rooms, a bar, an oyster bar and, of course, a deck overlooking the water. The Mediterranean menu is serious too, featuring homemade pastas; artisanal pizzas; starters such as hamachi crudo with pickled rhubarb, crispy shallots and basil oil or grilled Portuguese octopus with squash puree and green mango. Mains include a 14-ounce New York strip, double-cut pork chops, whole roast chicken and seared yellowfin tuna. More info: 516-502-0441, ninosbeach.com

Oysters at Nino's Beach in Port Washington.

Oysters at Nino's Beach in Port Washington. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

The Pizzeria (11 Maple Ave., Bay Shore): This is the sleekest location in the growing Pizzeria constellation, and the only one with both a bar and a stone patio (with drop-away windows between the two) which look out over busy Maple Avenue. In the morning, the laptop brigade can settle in with coffee and pastries; in the evening, gin cocktails, meatball-burrata pies and zeppoles rule, and there's live music each weekend. More info: thepizzeriany.com

The meatball burata pizza pie at The Pizzeria of Bay...

The meatball burata pizza pie at The Pizzeria of Bay Shore. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Birdies (17 N. Ocean Ave., Patchogue): On the inside, Birdies is comprised of a long, handsome cocktail bar, cozy velvet booths and two levels of golf simulation bays. Outside, the expansive beer garden, smack in the heart of downtown Patchogue, is the place to see and be seen, or just throw down for a game of cornhole. Drinks come from the outdoor bar and a food truck, Rollin Birdies, serves vittles such as pulled-pork sandwiches, burgers, fish tacos,  lobster rolls and sugar-dusted sweet corn nuggets. More info: 631-654-4652, birdiesli.com

The Citrus Lobster Roll at Rollin Birdies food truck at...

The Citrus Lobster Roll at Rollin Birdies food truck at Birdies in Patchogue. Credit: Linda Rosier

Bluebird Kitchen (​​2405 Merrick Rd., Bellmore): In December, NYC chef Al Di Meglio and partners opened Bluebird Kitchen in what had been a Red Robin. Every vestige of fast-foodery was expunged from the interior and the team took full advantage of the spacious patio, another venue for enjoying what Di Meglio describes as “everyday food, but in a way you’ve never had it." The core of the menu is elevated takes on American comfort favorites: parkerhouse rolls are made in house; the pigs in blankets are kosher franks wrapped in puff pastry that’s been seeded in homemade everything spice; the Bluebird burger is topped with Adirondack Cheddar and served with hand-cut fries. There are also a handful of dishes that would be at home in a much fancier restaurant such as a dry-aged porterhouse steak for two and a pan-roasted black sea bass whose elegant presentation relies on the chef’s ability to wield cauliflower three ways: raw slivers, roasted florets and a luxuriant, buttery purée. More info: 516-962-9600, bluebirdkitchenli.com

The Bluebird Burger at Bluebird Kitchen in Bellmore.

The Bluebird Burger at Bluebird Kitchen in Bellmore. Credit: Brittainy Newman

Kama Indo Fusion (1929 Wantagh Ave., Wantagh): Delhi native chef Peter Beck, who won raves and Michelin stars for his coastal fare at Manhattan eateries Tamarind and Chola, has decamped to Wantagh, where his pan-south Asian menu includes dishes both familiar (a sweet, fragrant chicken tikka masala) and less so (tandoori-grilled lamb marinated in pomegranate-based molasses, mint and garlic). Seafood remains a major concern, as with Beck’s prawns simmered in a coconut-lemongrass curry sauce, and his creative scallops verde, its sauce — featuring cilantro, jalapeño and roasted tomatillos — accompanied by a bright mango salsa. “In the southern part of India, they eat the way Malaysian people do,” Beck reports. “Very coconut-based, curry leaves, salmon and shrimp. It’s very exciting.” More info: 516-804-6100, kamafusion.com

Tandoori-grilled lamb marinated in pomegranate-based molasses, mint and garlic at Kama...

Tandoori-grilled lamb marinated in pomegranate-based molasses, mint and garlic at Kama Indo Fusion in Westbury. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski


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