Huntington, long known as a hot restaurant town, is bubbling over.
While downtown has seen its share of closings, the busy area also is undergoing a major restaurant revival. For almost every eatery recently departed, another has sprung up.
There have been at least 10 additions in less than a year, and more to come. The spectrum ranges from cheap-fast to high-style-pricey, from Persian to Portuguese, from Japanese to raw vegan, each contributing to what has become Suffolk's restaurant central.
Checking out the lot of them should keep you busy for some time. Just don't be surprised if, during the interim, a few new ones sneak into the picture.
201 E. Main St., Suite C
NEW Long Islanders have something entirely new and different with the opening of this somewhat hidden storefront: food that's both vegan (no animal products) and raw (no cooking whatsoever).
FOOD Chef-owner Okima Wilcox-Hitt's "compassionate kitchen" produces a salad made with beet greens, collards, rainbow chard, baby heirloom tomatoes, kale and asparagus. Other options: faux tuna salad (called "toona") and raw "pizza" with a walnut crust topped with cashew cheese. Raw fruit tarts come on uncooked crusts fashioned, mostly, of chopped nuts.
15 New St.
NEW An Italian restaurant rarely is really new on Long Island, but Bel Posto is a refreshing addition. It took over the site previously occupied by other Italian spots, among them Mangiamo, Tello and, years ago, Orlando.
FOOD Veteran chef Michael Ross comes through with a mix of the traditional and the modern. Look for the ricotta gnocchi in pistachio-parsley pesto; farfalle in a savory pork ragu; light, rich lasagna; roasted-beet salad with Gorgonzola cheese; sirloin steak with fingerling potatoes and charred peppers; olive oil-and-almond cake.
12 Elm St.
NEW A dramatic, glittery interior with food to match defines Kashi. The emphasis is on Japanese cuisine, but with plenty of twists and turns, updates and overhauls. It's fun. And the very active bar scene gives Kashi another dimension.
FOOD Hot appetizers range from a blue-crab fajita and spicy-tuna gyoza to more familiar negimaki and shumai; cold ones, from a tuna tortilla with guacamole and jalapeños to Kumamoto oysters with mango salsa, and cocktail and ponzu sauces. Colorful, signature sushi rolls vie with shrimp-and-lobster risotto and stir-fried basil filet mignon. All tops.
10 New St.
NEW This popular, informal Portuguese restaurant has been packed since Day One, bringing a taste to town not seen since the long-ago exit of The Iberian. You'll dine contentedly on large portions, almost elbow-to-elbow. It's upbeat, friendly and especially good for seafood.
FOOD Standouts include the octopus salad with potatoes and scallions; grilled sardines with tomato dressing; steamed littlenecks; pan-seared shrimp; well-seasoned chourico sausage, flamed tableside; a thick Berkshire pork chop with sweet onion-and-roasted pepper sauce; and satisfying roasted chicken. Dessert: flan.
287 Main St.
NEW Huntington is fertile territory for this new gastro pub, a casual spot offering serious comfort food and brews at moderate prices.
FOOD Executive chef and co-owner Nino Antuzzi's carefully sourced menu features house-smoked baby back ribs, satisfying pulled-pork sliders and delectable smoked-and-braised pork shank. Other winners: four-cheese mac and cheese, a gooey-good Cubano sandwich, an inspired Sardinian-style hot dog done with house-made wild-boar sausage.
10 Wall St.
NEW The Black Lantern is devoted to the green and the organic, but its visuals are more stylized, illuminated, glossy and futuristic. It makes a clear impression, from downstairs bar/cafe and outdoor dining area to the upstairs sushi bar. Sharp-looking lounge and a good restaurant, too.
FOOD Creative, eclectic Japanese updates, with plenty of ornate but balanced sushi rolls to go with the more familiar sushi and sashimi. Also: juicy, bunless Kobe-style sliders; crisp temperas and shrimp gyoza dumplings.
355 Main St.
NEW Ravagh, the offshoot of a Roslyn Heights Persian restaurant, introduces the cuisine of Iran -- not just to Huntington but to all Suffolk. Which means you won't have to cross the county line to get a fix of khoresh bademjan (lamb and eggplant stew).
FOOD In a comfortable, if somewhat formal space, once occupied by Blond, you'll find a menu dominated by kebabs and stews. Try the burani bademjan, mellow fried sliced eggplant with a vibrant tomato sauce drizzled with yogurt, the juicy and spicy lamb chops and the succulent jujeh kebab (bone-in Cornish hen marinated in a lemon-saffron mixture before being chargrilled). Copious portions are the norm.
NERAKI GREEK MEDITERRANEAN GRILL
273 Main St.
NEW The Greek tradition of grilling fish whole is what this (about-to-open) spot brings to Huntington's table. Owner Alex Moschos is part of the family behind Elias Corner, a renown Greek seafood restaurant in Astoria.
FOOD In addition to a variety of fresh whole fish (the menu will change according to market availability), Neraki will offer steaks, lamb chops and traditional Greek dishes.
NADER'S FISH ON THE RUN
217 New York Ave.
NEW Fast fish, plus a host of affordable alternatives, is the raison d'être of this ultracasual spot with indoor and outdoor tables. Just what time and cash-strapped Huntingtonians need, in the view of owner Nader Gebrin (who also has the higher-priced Bravo! Nader nearby).
FOOD On the menu are fish and chips, a tuna burger, a lobster roll on a croissant and lobster bisque. Health-conscious eaters can get turkey meatballs over whole- wheat pasta and a baked vegetable burger with tahini sauce. Conversely, there's also the "fat boy" beef burger and Southern fried chicken.
366 New York Ave.
NEW Swallow flew into the former address of Kozy Kettle, the soup specialist. Veterans will remember the tight quarters. And, of course, 20-seat Swallow is devoted to small plates. You'll want to eat plenty of them thanks, to chef James Tchinnis.
FOOD Highlights abound on an ever-changing menu. Consider the butternut-squash "cappuccino" soup; beer-batter fried asparagus; Yukon Gold fries with chipotle mayo; the short-rib tostada; Black Angus sliders with Tabasco-spiked mayo and tomato jam; Japanese cucumber salad with snow crab; and cinnamon-scented beef moussaka.
54 New St.
NEW Vitae opened on the former site of Abel Conklin's, a mainstay for decades. The restaurant looks sharp and contemporary, after an overhaul that included decor, kitchen and just about everything else. Very good Continental fare.
FOOD Winning choices include the short-rib croquettes; crabcakes; baby back ribs; pan-roasted Berkshire pork chop; and chicken Lawrence with sausages, potatoes and cherry peppers, named after chef Lawrence Palladino, a Northport native. There are well-chosen wines by the glass and by the bottle.