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Vegetarian dining: Four chefs rise to the challenge

A pizza topped with North Fork Catapano goat

A pizza topped with North Fork Catapano goat cheese, marinated tomato and olive is on the menu at Jewel restaurant in Melville. (Jan. 30, 2012) Credit: Photo by Doug Young

A reader emails to ask whether there are any new vegetarian restaurants. I can't think of any offhand. (Here's our guide to the Island's most vegetarian-frendly spots.)

But vegetarians often have to make do with what’s out there, especially when dining with non-vegetarian friends. So I asked four Long Island chefs whose menus are market-driven and seasonal what they would suggest a vegetarian order at each of their respective dining spots this weekend.

Tom Schaudel, executive chef of Jewel in Melville, says he often puts together vegetarian plates, drawing on what’s available ($18 to $25). “You always have to consider the neurosis of the customer,” Schaudel quips, adding that for some people, “you can’t put a plate together without a consultant, a pharmacist and three doctors.” Right now, he's working with snap peas, green beans, broccoli rabe, corn, sweet potato, mashed potatoes and mushrooms. From the menu, you could alternatively order a tomato salad ($14), a goat-cheese-tomato-olive pizza ($15) or a fancy “millionaire’s pizza” with black truffle, Fontina, mushroom and an egg ($21). Jewel is at 400 Broadhollow Rd., Melville, 631-755-5777.

At Lawson Pub in Oceanside, executive chef Joseph Bonacore will put together a plate of assorted roasted, pan-seared and sauteed vegetables that, right now, could include sauteed bok choy, haricots verts, butternut squash — “whatever’s around” — with fingerling potatoes ($11.95). From the menu, you could also get a butternut squash salad $11.95) and eggplant Parmesan ($15.95), which Bonacore says is a perennial vegetarian favorite. Lawson Pub is at 3112 Lawson Blvd., Oceanside, 516-307-8753.

Scott Bradley, chef-owner of Snaps in Wantagh, offers gnocchi with a truffle Parmesan sauce ($8 appetizer; $16 entree). He can also "86" the shrimp in his shrimp and coconut mango curry with soba noodles and amp up the vegetable quotient — “arugula, asparagus, tomato, mushrooms, zucchini, whatever I have around." ($16). Snaps is at 2010 Wantagh Ave., Wantagh, 516-221-0029.

At Market Bistro in Jericho, executive chef Chris Holden says his best-seller, this time of year, is an heirloom tomato salad ($14). A small plate of gnocchi with wild mushrooms and Pecorino Romano cheese ($12) may be upsized to an entree ($18). Right now, there’s a main course special of Tuscan eggplant that’s grilled and served with a tomato compote, Pecorino Romano, basil and Fontina, presented in a rustic casserole ($18). And there’s always homemade pasta on hand, to be tossed with whatever the vegetables the market bears ($18). Market Bistro is at 519 N. Broadway, Jericho, 516-513-1487.

The moral of the story is: Many chefs will gladly rise to the vegetarian challenge.

At Jewel in Melville, pizza topped with goat cheese, marinated tomato and olives

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