Long Island’s gastropubs are workhorses. These comfortable, inviting spots boast a curated selection of craft beers, and creative cocktails and ciders. Many have wine lists, as well. But it’s not just about the drinks, as the “gastro” in gastropub suggests. The best of them, listed here, dish up memorable renditions of pub fare for lunch, dinner and sometimes late night.
BBD's: Beers Burgers Desserts
BBD's: Beers Burgers Desserts, Rocky Point: Beers Burgers Desserts in Rocky Point has it going on starting with a state-of-the-art tap system, 28 beers on tap, one cask brew and more than 90 beers by the bottle. Then there's the pedigreed burger, made from beef ground in-house, such as a smoky, 12-ounce wood-and-charcoal-grilled burger on a toasted brioche bun with the restaurant's logo branded into the top. Optional add-ons from American cheese to bacon jam to avocado make for endless variations. Diners with a smaller appetite can order the griddle-cooked quarter-pound burger -- single or double -- topped with "the works" and delivering beefy satisfaction. White Castle fans will opt for a burger steamed over onions. Don't skip the killer desserts, like a banana split, the cinnabomb (a cinnamon bun served with coffee ice cream), overstuffed s'mores and shakes. (Pictured: Griddle burger).
Mini Chicago hot dog sliders are served at BBD's: Beer Burgers Desserts in Rocky Point.
Beginnings, Atlantic Beach: No detail is left unscripted in the décor. Self-described literary geeks and owners Ben Freiser and his wife, Heather, reference classic literature throughout the restaurant, from walls adorned with framed beginnings -- the first pages of famous novels -- to the bookcase/secret door to the restrooms. Start with one of more than 30 cocktails on the menu, eight beers on tap and more than 20 bottles and cans. Move on to a snack such as bonchon wings, a delightfully messy starter with soy, honey, garlic and ginger. Want them hot? Ask for Dante's Inferno. The "clam love" is ideal for sharing, spiked with andouille sausage, served with toast to soak up the butter and white-wine elixir. The burger remains a good bet, a house-blend of ground beef dressed with pickles, your choice of cheeses, bacon and a fried egg on brioche. Go for the fries, served on a board, skin-on, properly salty, with crisp ends and soft interiors. (Pictured: Roasted root plate with oven roasted vegetables and potato puree).
Beef marrow and oxtail marmalade with fresh herbs, brioche toast and spreadable fruit is served at Beginnings in Atlantic Beach.
Brewology, Port Jefferson: While the original Brewology is situated in a strip-mall parking lot in Speonk, this sibling resides in a formerhotel. The tap system that delivers more than 20 craft brews is a focal point, though wine and cocktail cravings are not ignored. The food menu features re-imagined pub standards such as deviled duck eggs with pancetta, dill pickles and smoked paprika; stuffed corn fritters; and entree classics like steak and shrimp with fingerlings. Burgers seed the menu, from angus beef, turkey veggie and a bison patty stuffed with Cheddar and blue cheeses. (Pictured: Cowgirl rib-eye with crispy wedge cut fries).
The S'mores brownie skillet, made with soft warm brownie, toasted marshmallows, chocolate drizzle, and a side of graham crackers for dipping, is served at Brewology in Port Jefferson.
The Good Life
The Good Life, Massapequa Park: A reproduction of a red English phone booth guards the entryway of the Massapequa Park gastro pub, signaling the presence of such British pub classics as fish and chips and shepherd's pie. You'll even find chicken tikka masala, with white-meat chicken in a rich, fragrant, lightly spiced sauce plated with warm flatbread and basmati rice. Fish and chips are a beaut, light beer-battered cod, house-made potato chips and a bright tartar sauce. As far as drinks are concerned, go for one of 24 beers on tap -- many from England -- more than 70 bottled, or a refreshing cider. (Pictured: Chicken tikka masala).
Mac & Cheese is served at The Good Life in Massapequa Park.
Heirloom Tavern, Glen Head: Both beer and wine make a statement here, with an extensive selection of vino, a handful of beers on tap and nearly a dozen by the bottle. The spotlight is on inventive presentation of familiar dishes like bay scallops tempura and endive salad paired with Gorgonzola cheese and drizzled with a Port wine vinaigrette. Tuna tataki is as recommended as a generous meatball hero, while strozzapretti Bolognese satisfies an inner pasta lover. Take note that it gets crowded, so don't be surprised if it's elbow to elbow at the bar. (Pictured: Berkshire pork chop).
Lobster fettuccine carbonara is served at Heirloom Tavern in Glen Head.
Jackson's, Commack: Jackson's features dim lighting and a long bar with a solid wine list, a handful of cocktails and more than a dozen beer taps and bottled brews. But the main activity here is dining. Frickles, wings and sloppy-joe nachos lie among starters at this restaurant serving upscale nostalgia. Turn the pages-long menu to find chicken, burgers and steaks in any way imaginable. You're bound to find that favorite dish you grew up on. (Pictured: Fried chicken with cheese fries and cole slaw).
Thai chicken lettuce wraps are served at Jackson's in Commack.
Off the Block Kitchen & Meats
Off the Block Kitchen & Meats, Sayville: It's a butcher shop and a restaurant with a very small open kitchen where meats are the stars. Kick off a meal with a dish like the littleneck clam starter, with thin-shaved nubs of pastrami atop shellfish peppered with chives. The pastruben offers a mountain of corned beef and pastrami, along with all the condiments that you'd find on either sandwich, which includes 'kraut, Swiss cheese, arugula and a take on horseradish that's doctored with honey and Dijon. And the burgers, ground in-house, sure are lookers. For a grand gesture, buy a porterhouse at the counter and have it cooked to order at the restaurant. More than 20 bottled craft brews and a handful of wines by the glass are available. (Pictured: Pastrami little neck clams with blood orange in a yuzu-dashi broth).
A porchetta sandwich with sauteed spinach, tomato confit and grated Parmesan is served with a side house salad at Off the Block Kitchen & Meats in Sayville.
One Block East
One Block East, Wantagh: Casual and cacophonous, One Block East features an impressive array of craft brews -- many of them local -- on tap and in bottles, with the selection listed on a giant chalkboard. Among food recommendations: pulled pork empanadas, smoked brisket tacos, fish and chips, or a seasonal sandwich stuffed with lobster or a soft shell crab. Each day offers five brews on tap and 25 by the bottle, as well as nearly a dozen wines by the glass. Be sure to keep an eye on the Facebook page for daily deals, from half-price wine to weekend cocktail specials. (Pictured: Brisket tacos).
Mason jar banana cream pie is the signature dessert at One Block East in Wantagh.
Sapsuckers, Huntington: Grab a table for a more intimate dinner or a seat at the bar for good people-watching. Named for an American bird, you'll find straightforward pub grub made with well-sourced ingredients. Sure, there are familiar appetizers like mac-n-cheese and nachos, but the openers share the menu with potato pierogies, peel-and-eat shrimp and pulled pork on potato rolls. Burgers, 'dawgs and chicken breast are dressed up with ingredients or pretzel rolls or brioche. From the barrel-aged to the hops-forward, beers here aren't for the meek. With dozens on the menu, you'll find one to suit you. (Pictured: Mac and cheese).
Sapsuckers in Huntington serves the Mallet Burger, cooked on a griddle, and pressed with a mallet.
Vauxhall, Huntington: A small spot in downtown Huntington has put together a menu that shows off quality ingredients, local sourcing and skill -- and there's a late-night menu until 2 a.m. Burgers are the stars, of course, made from a beef blend from Farmingdale's Main Street Meats. A balance of brioche to burger, they're popular dressed with bacon, tomato jam and a sheath of Cheddar for the Villager, or caramelized onions, roasted mushrooms and Gruyere for the Wild Life. A favorite is the Evil Sal, with ghost pepper marmalade with an onion ring on a pretzel bun, hold the pepper jack. Burger alternatives include fried chicken on a waffle bun, as well as the vegetarian-friendly black-bean sweet-potato burger or the upmarket grilled cheese. Drinks may steal the show, from the handful of cocktails, nearly 20 craft beer taps and as many cans. (Pictured: Wedge salad).
The Evil Sal burger, with spicy ghost pepper marmalade, pepper jack cheese and vinegar onion crisps is served on a pretzel bun at Vauxhall in Huntington.