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Roots Bistro Gourmand in West Islip: First bites

Ravioli at Roots Bistro Gourmand in West Islip.

Ravioli at Roots Bistro Gourmand in West Islip. (August 2012) Credit: Handout

Bistronomy becomes science and art in West Islip, where Roots Bistro Gourmand opens as one of the sharpest restaurants of the year.

Executive chef Philippe Corbet, who last cooked at the departed O's Food & Wine Bar in St. James, updates and expands the idea of the French bistro with creative, first-class fare and easygoing style. He co-owns Roots with James Robert Orlandi, former sous chef at O's.

They're working where the Parkwood Cafe was housed for decades. The dining room gets a makeover, too, from the zinc bar to the reclaimed wood flooring.

Try the "pressed suckling pig," crisp-skinned and meltingly tender, paired with caramelized heart of palm and baby carrots finished with caraway-lavender honey. Dive into a flavor-packed spin on bouillabaisse.

Or sample "garden inspired" ravioli, with English peas, fava beans, crisp confit of lamb, espelette pepper and a coconut-mint veloute. Enjoy lentils with blue cheese, shallots, peppers and cherry tomatoes in a mosaic of good taste.

And definitely allow for dessert, which includes a playful "pop rock" completed with coconut ice cream and macerated strawberries.

Roots prepares some fine cocktails, too. "Fred & Ginger" brings together bourbon, cherry vanilla bitters, Cherry Heering liqueur and fresh ginger to very good effect.

Toast Roots.

Roots Bistro Gourmand, 399 Montauk Hwy., West Islip; 631-587-2844.

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