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Top 10 fine dining restaurants of 2009

Lola in Great Neck was chosen as one

Lola in Great Neck was chosen as one of the top 10 new fine dining restaurants in 2009. (Nov. 14, 2009) Credit: Kirsten Luce

The first few months of 2009 were obituary time for the Long Island restaurant scene. A lot of eateries, notable and less so, were victims of the recession.

But as the year closes, the pace of openings has quickened. The bottom line for the last 12 months shows a surprise: more restaurants rated very good or better.

And The North Fork Table & Inn in Southold, which merited three stars when it opened in 2006, earned its fourth this year.

Some notable restaurants changed addresses, some chefs, and they were reviewed anew. Here are my top 10 openings.

1. MIRABELLE
150 Main St., Stony Brook, 631-751-0555, threevillageinn.com

Food: 4 stars
Cost: $$$-$$$$
Service: Excellent
Ambience: Excellent

Chef Guy Reuge relocated his four-star restaurant from St. James to the Three Village Inn and made it better. Classic French meets New American.

Essentials: Duck two ways, tuna carpaccio, ginger-almond tart. Reuge also opened the three-star Mirabelle Tavern at the Inn, a flavorful showcase for his more casual cooking.

2. LOLAphotos
113 Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck, 516-466-5666

Food: 3.5 stars
Cost: $$$-$$$$
Service: Excellent
Ambience: Very good

Restless restaurateur Michael Ginor's Lola arrived as a haute fantasy of small plates and big flavors: an eclectic, high-risk enterprise with an ever-changing menu, great ambition and enough foie gras and fanciful fare to awaken the jaded.

Essentials: Whole roasted duck, roe-flecked scallop, fricassee of cipollini.

3. JAMESPORT MANOR INN | photos
370 Manor Lane, Jamesport, 631-722-0500, jamesportmanorinn.com

Food: 3 stars
Cost: $$$
Service: Excellent
Ambience: Excellent

Chef David Intonato has updated and dramatically improved this charming North Fork destination. His New American cooking is sharp, creative, always inviting, emphasizing local produce.

Essentials: Goat-cheese ricotta cavatelli with wild arugula pesto; pork three ways; duck breast with Indian-spiced pakoras.

4. TRATA | photos
1446 Old Northern Blvd., Roslyn, 516-625-2600, trata.com

Food: 3 stars
Cost: $$-$$$
Service: Exceptional
Ambience: Very good

When the branch of Trata in Water Mill closed for the summer season, this striking new branch opened. There's a third in Manhattan. Chef Jose Luis Falcon oversees the first-rate kitchen.

Essentials: Fried kefalograviera cheese, grilled octopus, grilled fish, Greek yogurt and Greek spreads.

5. THE LIVING ROOM
207 Main St., East Hampton, 631-324-5440, themaidstone.com

Food: 3 stars
Cost: $$$
Service: Excellent
Ambience: Excellent

The Maidstone has been remade and so has the hotel's restaurant: a slow-food special from chefs James Carpenter and Bjorn Eriksson. The Maidstone's Swedish style extends to the menu.

Essentials: Raraka, or potato cakes with crème fraîche and roe; Berkshire pork chop with maple glaze; pan-roasted halibut with mango chutney.

6. AMARELLE | photos
2028 N. Country Rd., Wading River, 631-886-2242, amarelle.net

Food: 2.5 stars
Cost: $$$
Service: Very good
Ambience: Very good

Chef-owners Lia Fallon and Steve Biscari-Amaral and chef de cuisine Martial Boffy put together a high-style, inventive, seasonal menu of mix-and-match dishes at this countrified eatery.

Essentials: Striped bass with white corn-butter sauce, Wagyu rib-eye steak with warm potato salad and charred cipollini, sour-cherry ice cream.

7. KITCHEN A BISTRO | photos
404 N. Country Rd., St. James, 631-862-0151, kitchenabistro.com

Food: 2.5 stars
Cost: $$-$$$
Service: Very good
Ambience: Good

Into the old Mirabelle space comes the new version of this popular, wide-ranging kitchen, run by Eric Lomando. The menu at the informal, American-style bistro changes each day.

Essentials: Seasonal-vegetable risotto; red-wine braised short ribs; cod with braised white beans and mahogany clams.

8. RUGOSA | photos
290 Montauk Hwy., Wainscott, 631-604-1550, rugosarestaurant.com

Food: 2.5 stars
Cost: $$-$$$
Service: Very good
Ambience: Very good

In the noisy Hamptons, Rugosa slipped in quietly: relaxed, assured, reliable. Chef Bill Mammes' balanced New American / Italian cuisine has all-seasons appeal.

Essentials: Loin of lamb with a braised escarole, raisin and pine-nut tart; seared duck breast with curry-spiked polenta and date chutney; rum baba with honey ice cream.

9. MUMON
1300 Franklin Ave., Garden City, 516-747-3388, mumonrestaurant.com

Food: 2 stars
Cost: $$-$$$
Service: Very good
Ambience: Very good

Sashimi and sushi are the lures at Mumon, a Japanese restaurant that excels at the basics of the cuisine. Sushi chef Tomoyuku Takasu knows what counts, in quality and presentation. Take his advice about which fish to choose.

Essentials: Uncooked fish, tuna tartare and miso-marinated cod.

10. ALEXANDROSphotos
1060 Rte. 25A, Mount Sinai, 631-928-8600, alexandrosrestaurant.com

Food: 2 stars
Cost: $$-$$$
Service: Very good
Ambience: Good

Alexandros moved to this location from Miller Place, food and personality intact. The casual, openhanded restaurant is part dining room, part bar, carefully run by Sam and Andrea Constantis.

Essentials: All the savory Greek spreads; assorted grilled whole fish; various steaks; moussaka.

>>Find more fine dining restaurants on Long Island

>>View the top 10 inexpensive restaurants of 2009

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