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Best Cheap Eats reviews of 2012

KUSHI JAPANESE FUSION, Neconset The duck tortilla, bringing

KUSHI JAPANESE FUSION, Neconset

The duck tortilla, bringing to mind Peking duck, is a standout.

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Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

Every week, food critic Joan Reminick reviews a different new restaurant. Here are her favorites of the year.

KUSHI JAPANESE FUSION, Neconset We say: Chef and
Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

KUSHI JAPANESE FUSION, Neconset

We say: Chef and co-owner Eric Wu (left) is a raw-fish craftsman -- cutting, rolling and plating with artistry and elan.

See the review.

KUSHI JAPANESE FUSION, Neconset The duck tortilla, bringing
Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

KUSHI JAPANESE FUSION, Neconset

The duck tortilla, bringing to mind Peking duck, is a standout.

See more photos.

PRETTY TONI'S CAFE, Valley Stream We say: Chef
Photo Credit: Alessandro Vecchi

PRETTY TONI'S CAFE, Valley Stream

We say: Chef and co-owner Toni Clifton is a woman who cooks with passion, heart and skill. Her somewhat nontraditional version of soul food avoids pork products and large quantities of fat and sugar, yet its comfort factor runs high.

See the review.

PRETTY TONI'S CAFE, Valley StreamThe delectable fried chicken
Photo Credit: Alessandro Vecchi

PRETTY TONI'S CAFE, Valley Stream

The delectable fried chicken with red velvet waffles.

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BISCUITS & BARBEQUE, Mineola We say: Tucked inside
Photo Credit: Alessandro Vecchi

BISCUITS & BARBEQUE, Mineola

We say: Tucked inside a 1940s railroad-car diner is some of the most satisfying Louisiana-style food in these parts.

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BISCUITS & BARBEQUE, MineolaThe catfish is a thick
Photo Credit: Alessandro Vecchi

BISCUITS & BARBEQUE, Mineola

The catfish is a thick slab of blackened fish.

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PHAYATHAI, Lake Ronkonkoma We say: The reason behind
Photo Credit: Alessandro Vecchi

PHAYATHAI, Lake Ronkonkoma

We say: The reason behind our ardor becomes clear with the first spoonful of chef-owner Veerawat Satsri's tom yum goong, the classic Thai shrimp hot and sour soup that's both ringing hot and rife with subtleties.

See the review.

PHAYATHAI, Lake Ronkonkoma Phayathai's tom kha gai --
Photo Credit: Alessandro Vecchi

PHAYATHAI, Lake Ronkonkoma

Phayathai's tom kha gai -- chicken coconut soup -- has a sly electric undercurrent all its own.

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DAISHO OF JAPAN, Huntington We say: With the
Photo Credit: Adrian J. Fusssell

DAISHO OF JAPAN, Huntington

We say: With the birth of Daisho of Japan in Huntington, the ramen-yakitori phenom lands on Long Island.

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DAISHO OF JAPAN, Huntington Daisho's pork ramen noodle
Photo Credit: Adrian J. Fusssell

DAISHO OF JAPAN, Huntington

Daisho's pork ramen noodle soup is flavorful and rich, the noodles fresh and pliant. Also in the bowl are bean sprouts, cabbage and a hard-cooked egg.

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FANCY LEE, BabylonWe say: Dramatic lighting and sleek,
Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales

FANCY LEE, Babylon

We say: Dramatic lighting and sleek, polished surfaces notwithstanding, Fancy Lee remains, at heart, a friendly neighborhood gathering spot. Here, a crack team of sushi chefs turns out a colorful array of raw fish creations.

See the review.

FANCY LEE, BabylonThe
Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales

FANCY LEE, Babylon

The "ganga style" duck roll is a knockout: A flaky pancake, or roti, enfolds roasted duck and is drizzled with hoisin and spicy rémoulade.

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THE GOOD LIFE, Massapequa Park We say:A reproduction
Photo Credit: Alessandro Vecchi

THE GOOD LIFE, Massapequa Park

We say:A reproduction of a red English phone booth guards the entryway of this gastro pub, signaling the presence of such British classics as fish and chips and shepherd's pie.

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THE GOOD LIFE, Massapequa Parkmac & cheese includes
Photo Credit: Alessandro Vecchi

THE GOOD LIFE, Massapequa Park

mac & cheese includes a panko-English cheddar crust.

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HAVEN GRILL, Port Washington We say: At his
Photo Credit: Alessandro Vecchi

HAVEN GRILL, Port Washington

We say: At his sprawling, grill-centric restaurant in Port Washington, Elio Sobrero offers a relatively healthy menu -- only to seduce you at the end with the kind of sweets he's built a reputation on.

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HAVEN GRILL, Port Washington Among chef Elio Sobrero's
Photo Credit: Alessandro Vecchi

HAVEN GRILL, Port Washington

Among chef Elio Sobrero's superb finales is a creation called chocolate velvet: a blend of bittersweet chocolate, eggs, whipped cream, rum and amaretto cookies molded together with thinly sliced pound cake.

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HOSHI SUSHI & HIBACHI, Patchogue We say: Talk
Photo Credit: Heather Walsh

HOSHI SUSHI & HIBACHI, Patchogue

We say: Talk about fushion fare, with fresh and pretty sushi and rolls, a hibachi chef's knife-clanging food-flinging performance and a superstar tofu teriyaki.

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HOSHI SUSHI & HIBACHI, PatchogueThe crazy roll: lightly
Photo Credit: Heather Walsh

HOSHI SUSHI & HIBACHI, Patchogue

The crazy roll: lightly seared black pepper tuna with avocado, tempura flakes and spicy tuna.

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TAO, SyossetWe say: Given Long Island's dwindling collection
Photo Credit: Yana Paskova

TAO, Syosset

We say: Given Long Island's dwindling collection of old-school Chinese restaurants, there's comfort to be taken in the opening of Tao.

Read the review.

TAO, SeldenKung pao chicken, made with dark meat,
Photo Credit: Yana Paskova

TAO, Selden

Kung pao chicken, made with dark meat, is fiery and rife with peanuts, a memorable version of this familiar dish

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STUDIO GRILLE, SeldenWe say: Studio Grille makes a
Photo Credit: Doug Young

STUDIO GRILLE, Selden

We say: Studio Grille makes a striking appearance: lofty industrial-style ceilings, coppery walls and dramatic lighting. The underlying surprise is that you can eat very well for lots less than the decor would have you imagine.

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STUDIO GRILLE, SeldenSteamed shrimp dumplings are prepared with
Photo Credit: Doug Young

STUDIO GRILLE, Selden

Steamed shrimp dumplings are prepared with shrimp, pork, shitake mushrooms and a ponzu dipping sauce.

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CHICHIMECAS, Farmingdale We say: Of the countless restaurants
Photo Credit: Johnny Simon

CHICHIMECAS, Farmingdale

We say: Of the countless restaurants that have pulled in and out of the bi-level space near the Farmingdale LIRR tracks, Chichimecas may prove to be the keeper. One reason is the track record of owners Alejandro (Alex) and Maria González, who have made their two Huntington restaurants -- Oaxaca and Quetzalcoatl -- destinations for authentic Mexican fare. A spoonful of Alex González' heady, homey pozole, or pork and hominy soup, bespeaks his skill as executive chef.

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CHICHIMECAS, FarmingdalePulled pork is smoked on the premises.See
Photo Credit: Johnny Simon

CHICHIMECAS, Farmingdale

Pulled pork is smoked on the premises.

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SICILIA RESTAURANT, LevittownWe say: Dominican-born chef Daniel De
Photo Credit: Johnny Simon

SICILIA RESTAURANT, Levittown

We say: Dominican-born chef Daniel De Jesus cooks like a born Sicilian. Some of his recipes come from co-owner Domenic Giampino's Sicilian mother; others are simply well researched.

Read the review.

SICILIA RESTAURANT, LevittownThe arancini, fried rice balls with
Photo Credit: Johnny Simon

SICILIA RESTAURANT, Levittown

The arancini, fried rice balls with a beef filling.

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AHUVA'S GRILL, HewlettWe say: Chef-owner Ahuva Tsadok ignites
Photo Credit: Johnny Simon

AHUVA'S GRILL, Hewlett

We say: Chef-owner Ahuva Tsadok ignites and soothes the palate with a compelling repertoire of Yemenite Israeli dishes.

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AHUVA'S GRILL, Hewlett The appetizer platter features freshly
Photo Credit: Johnny Simon

AHUVA'S GRILL, Hewlett

The appetizer platter features freshly cooked falafel, tabouli, Turkish salad, hummus and babaganoush, all served with a side of traditional lafah bread.

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SUSHI KO, Merrick We say: No question, chef-owner
Photo Credit: Yana Paskova

SUSHI KO, Merrick

We say: No question, chef-owner James Wang has respect for the sea's bounty. And while some of Wang's maki rolls may appear a bit ornate, they almost invariably come together well.

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SUSHI KO, Merrick The hot white dragon roll,
Photo Credit: Yana Paskova

SUSHI KO, Merrick

The hot white dragon roll, with escolar, jalapeño, seaweed salad, seared yellowtail and chili powder.

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THE PHOENIX, Seaford We say: In a red
Photo Credit: Steven Sunshine

THE PHOENIX, Seaford

We say: In a red and black space that evokes a retro rock club, the high caliber of cuisine may come as something of a surprise.

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THE PHOENIX, Seaford Spicy peanut soup, made with
Photo Credit: Steven Sunshine

THE PHOENIX, Seaford

Spicy peanut soup, made with jalapeno grape salsa and garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds and crispy sweet potato.

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YAO'S DINER, CentereachWe say: Hardly a diner, Adam
Photo Credit: Doug Young

YAO'S DINER, Centereach

We say: Hardly a diner, Adam Yao's is an attractive little eatery whose kitchen is commanded by a family friend from Beijing, Guo Jhang, a chef whose culinary style is decidedly Sichuan.

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YAO'S DINER, CentereachDeep-fried crabs in a spicy sauce.
Photo Credit: Doug Young

YAO'S DINER, Centereach

Deep-fried crabs in a spicy sauce.

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CABO FRESH, Stony Brook We say: The operative
Photo Credit: Doug Young

CABO FRESH, Stony Brook

We say: The operative word here is "fresh," with almost everything made on premises and from scratch.

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CABO FRESH, Stony BrookA Baja bowl with fire-grilled
Photo Credit: Doug Young

CABO FRESH, Stony Brook

A Baja bowl with fire-grilled chicken, served in a eco-friendly bowl.

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TORO PAZZO, Wantagh We say: Chef Rene Collado
Photo Credit: Johnny Simon

TORO PAZZO, Wantagh

We say: Chef Rene Collado hails from the Dominican Republic but demonstrates that one doesn't have to be a born Italian to cook it convincingly.

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TORO PAZZO, Wantagh Pollo al Toro Pazzo, roast
Photo Credit: Johnny Simon

TORO PAZZO, Wantagh

Pollo al Toro Pazzo, roast chicken with peppers, hot Italian sausage and roasted peppers.

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CHAN'S SUSHI AND TERIYAKI, Lake RonkonkomaWe say: Don't
Photo Credit: Albert J. Orlando

CHAN'S SUSHI AND TERIYAKI, Lake Ronkonkoma

We say: Don't let the strip mall exterior dissuade you. Inside, it's all about stylish serenity, with contemporary wood furnishings and burnished tiles in a neutral colors. And then there's the food.

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CHAN'S SUSHI AND TERIYAKI, Lake RonkonkomaPeppered tuna tataki
Photo Credit: Albert J. Orlando

CHAN'S SUSHI AND TERIYAKI, Lake Ronkonkoma

Peppered tuna tataki and the sushi deluxe combo.

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TEN 89 NOODLE HOUSE, Stony Brook We say:
Photo Credit: Doug Young

TEN 89 NOODLE HOUSE, Stony Brook

We say: So near Stony Brook University it's practically on campus, the big reward here takes the form of noodle soups.

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TEN 89 NOODLE HOUSE, Stony Brook Braised beef
Photo Credit: Doug Young

TEN 89 NOODLE HOUSE, Stony Brook

Braised beef noodle soup.

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CUBAN CROCODILE, Long Beach We say: American-born Marivi
Photo Credit: Johnny Simon

CUBAN CROCODILE, Long Beach

We say: American-born Marivi Wolfe cooks the food of her native Cuban family, a cuisine she grew up eating and translates successfully in dishes including empanadas, shrimp in garlic sauce and pernil asado, or slow-roasted pork shoulder.

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CUBAN CROCODILE, Long Beach The red snapper and
Photo Credit: Johnny Simon

CUBAN CROCODILE, Long Beach

The red snapper and shrimp seviche, served with fried plantain chips.

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SOUTHERN SPICE, New Hyde ParkWe say: Sridhar Rathinam's
Photo Credit: Yana Paskova

SOUTHERN SPICE, New Hyde Park

We say: Sridhar Rathinam's regional Chettinad cookery, as fiery as it is nuanced, can spark even the most sophisticated palate.

Read the review.

SOUTHERN SPICE, New Hyde Park Tandoori duck breast.
Photo Credit: Yana Paskova

SOUTHERN SPICE, New Hyde Park

Tandoori duck breast.

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P.S. BURGERS, Mineola We say: Despite its name,
Photo Credit: Yana Paskova

P.S. BURGERS, Mineola

We say: Despite its name, this is a place where co-owners Carmelo Sapuppo, left, and Fabricio Strambeck make burgers the focus rather than a postscript.

Read the review.

P.S. BURGERS, Mineola The Paris burger is served
Photo Credit: Yana Paskova

P.S. BURGERS, Mineola

The Paris burger is served on a pretzel roll.

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PORTO FINO RISTORANTE, HuntingtonWe say: It's a winning
Photo Credit: Johnny Simon

PORTO FINO RISTORANTE, Huntington

We say: It's a winning formula: Part pizzeria, part trattoria , plus a warm crew and good, hearty food that's priced to please.

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PORTO FINO RISTORANTE, HuntingtonShrimp oreganata.See more photos.
Photo Credit: Johnny Simon

PORTO FINO RISTORANTE, Huntington

Shrimp oreganata.

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CEDARHURST CAFE, Cedarhurst We say: John Cordoba, the
Photo Credit: Agaton Strom

CEDARHURST CAFE, Cedarhurst

We say: John Cordoba, the Costa Rican-born co-owner of Cedarhurst Cafe, is something of a mad scientist when it comes to salads. Hardly dietetic "rabbit food," these are substantial bowls, classifiable as both creative and offbeat.

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CEDARHURST CAFE, CedarhurstThe Maine lobster tail salad with
Photo Credit: Newsday / Joan Reminick

CEDARHURST CAFE, Cedarhurst

The Maine lobster tail salad with lemon vinaigrette.

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SACRAMONE'S, East MeadowWe say: Family pride runs high
Photo Credit: Johnny Simon

SACRAMONE'S, East Meadow

We say:
Family pride runs high at this spinoff of a long-standing Astoria place, and the East Meadow locations's coal-fired pizza ovens produce an “old-fashioned” pie whose crisp, fragrant crust is topped with a confluence of fresh mozzarella, basil and crushed San Marzano tomatoes.

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SACRAMONE'S. East Meadow. Frutti di Mare, a plate
Photo Credit: Johnny Simon



SACRAMONE'S. East Meadow. Frutti di Mare, a plate of calamari, clams and mussels

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TEN TEN ASIAN SUSHI BISTRO, Mount Sinai We
Photo Credit: Doug Young

TEN TEN ASIAN SUSHI BISTRO, Mount Sinai

We say: Feeding Long Island's addiction to pan-Asian sushi bar restaurants, the crew at Ten Ten has roots in China, while it's the cuisines of Japan and Southeast Asia that predominate. It's a hybrid that works.

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TEN TEN ASIAN SUSHI BISTRO, Mount Sinai Saigon
Photo Credit: Doug Young

TEN TEN ASIAN SUSHI BISTRO, Mount Sinai

Saigon dumplings of pork and shrimp in a peanut sauce.

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DEL FUEGO, St. JamesWe say: It's Latin, it's
Photo Credit: Doug Young



DEL FUEGO, St. James

We say: It's Latin, it's Asian, it's fruity, it's fiery, it works.

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DEL FUEGO, St. James A platter of surf-and-turf
Photo Credit: Doug Young

DEL FUEGO, St. James

A platter of surf-and-turf fajitas -- filet mignon and shrimp -- is served with the classic fixings of guacamole, salsa and sour cream.

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RAVAGH PERSIAN GRILL, Huntington We say: There are
Photo Credit: Agaton Strom

RAVAGH PERSIAN GRILL, Huntington

We say: There are many appealing specialties at this attractive branch of the Roslyn Heights Ravagh.

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RAVAGH PERSIAN GRILL, HuntingtonJujeh kebab, Cornish hen with
Photo Credit: Agaton Strom

RAVAGH PERSIAN GRILL, Huntington

Jujeh kebab, Cornish hen with a lemon-saffron marinade.

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