Excellence T H E M A G A Z I N E O F H O S P I TA L I T Y
WINTER / 2014
from BArry kay Publisher/Editor in Chief
I have spent the last 10 years dining at some of the finest restaurants in the U.S. I have also dined at many amazing local restaurants who offer superb food and service, yet go unheralded. It is our intention to have Excellence feature the local superstars of the culinary world in our E magazine. "Excellence" will be focused on offering sophisticated diners, family's, couples, and businessmen an inside track to some of the finest dining on Long Island, The Boroughs, Manhattan, and Bergen County New Jersey. For years my loyal following of thousands who have read my reviews on the web, in Boulevard magazine, Trip Advisor, & The Examiner, have urged me to publish my reviews in an internet magazine and to promote it through social media. "Excellence -Cuisine" is the beginning of a long overdue recognition of great local restaurants, cuisine, and venues that pursue excellence through fine service, ambiance. and good value for your hard earned money. Our magazine will offer you a different perspective on dining and the many sensational chefs who are not on the food network. In our first issue we will offer reviews of some Long Island's most interesting and exceptional restaurants. In our opinion each one qualifies as Excellent! I have listed below my criteria for enjoying a memorable dining experience. Please feel free to let us know your thoughts. Bon Apetit... Always remember, there is average, good, and then that rarest of all.....excellent!
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A MODERN ASIAN
is a shining culinary jewel, standing proudly at the Americana Manhasset surrounded by some of the world’s foremost couturier shops. Toku is sleek, sexy and distinctive with the use of glass, oriental artwork, and exotic lighting. We parked our car directly in front ot toku’s decorative canopy and large glass doors. Once inside the restaurant we were greeted by Charles Kim, Toku’s general manager. He sat us at a large, comfortable leather and wood banquet and introduced us to Kevin our waiter.
Our other entree was a beautifully plated dish of Miso Black Cod -bronze broiled, shishito pepper salad, and bonito shavings. By simply using a fork, thin perfectly formed slices of exquisitely delicious black cod fell to the plate.
We began our Asian culinary experience with: A Tuna Spring Roll - thin cigar like rolls with crispy shallot, chill mayo. Amazing Lamb Spare Ribs large ribs with juicy tender lamb meat. This was quickly followed by Lobster Risotto - in a colorful covered dish with large chunks of lobster and yellow rice.
This meal was among the best modern asian meals we have eaten. The food was delightful, beautifully plated and served by highly professional waiters and captains. Gorgeous venue with an urban chic ambiance,.
We then were served a gleaming white plate of thinly sliced kobe beef, with a small lava stone type mini barbecue. This was an interactive treat that allowed us to gently cook our beef in a few seconds and savor the fantastic taste of Kobe beef.
Kudos to: Gillis, George and Charles Kim for an outstanding, and exotic culinary experience.
Prior to our entrees we were served a large Asian Caesar Salad filled with ginger aioli, cashews, crispy wontons, and parmigiano cheese. Simply Sensational For entrees we sampled Peking Duck-crispy fried dark duck skin, moist and juicy duck meat, moo shu pancakes, cucumber scallion and hoisin sauce. The moo shu pancakes were crispy, tasty and out of this world delicious and filling.
Naturally “when in Rome” we had to have a specially made plate of sushi rolls- Yellow Tail and Spicy Tuna, delicious and quickly devoured. It was time to end our evening with traditional green tea, served with an assortment of pies, cakes and sorbets.
Toku 2014C Northern Boulevard Manhasset, N.Y. 11030 telephone: 516-627-toku Make reservations!
THE ULTIMATE Hamptonâ€™s Winter Staycation
he Maidstone inn, located in East Hampton, offers comfort, charm, and a â€œfree spirited scandanavian design. It also features â€œThe Living Room, one of the east ends most exciting restaurants. The Maidstone has been an inn since 1858 when the original owner William Osborne, and his wife took in borders. In 1924, the Inn was sold to Hampton Hotels Corp and nearly a century later, the maidstone was taken over by a Swedish hotel company. The new swedish owners have spent millions to upgrade, improve and renovate this historic icon, bringing in a new era of scandanavian design, and timeless sophistication. The Maidstone is unique in many ways and encourages guests to bring their children, and pets to visit and stay at the inn.. The Inn has a dazzling variety of indoor and outdoor attractions for guests including high tea, sunday brunch, a gift shop with fabulous swedish art and jewelry, outdoor yoga classes in the garden and play areas for children and pets. We arrived at the Maidstone at 9:00 PM,on a chilly dark night, but guests were still lounging on the oversized front porch reading, drinking, and talking, while sitting in large comfortable
rocking chairs with sheepskin throws. Guests also can meditate, exercise, & paint in the spectacular backyard and gardens in the rear of the inn. The inn, noted for its superior food and ambiance also has a select group of 19 uniquelly decorated guest rooms named after famous Nordic celebrities.
we had a few hours before partaking of the famed Living Room Brunch, We took a mini tour of some of the fashionable shops and buildings on Main Street including London Jewelers, & Polo Lauren. We returned for Brunch at the stylish and chic “Living Room” restaurant at the Maidstone. We were escorted to our table by Adam, the Living Room Manager. We started with a plate of Peconic Pride Oysters with a cucumber mignonette. The sweetness of the oysters was totally delicious when dipped in a light vinager dressing. We then sampled Kotbullar- 6 round swedish meatballs in a fabulous light red sauce with condiments. Simply fabulous! For our main entree we both chose Eggs Benedict served with Canadian Bacon, holandaise, and Long Island potatoes- The eggs were perfectly prepared and incomparably delicious with an English muffin. We finished our brunch with coffee and tea.
According to Maidstone’s newsletter:”The hotel has been designed to offer comfort and amazing swedish amenities and decoration. The rest of the hotel is pretty much one big, cozy living room. It’ll feel like your very own home, but better - a phenomenon we call ‘Scandinavian Cozy’We came up with this fabulous concept because it best describes how we honor our roots, by mixing traditional design with up and coming talents from our beloved Scandinavia. The uber-vivid Josef Frank patterns, woolly Gotlamm sheep hides, abundance of coffee table books, turquoise walls, happy plants & fireplaces pretty much do the trick”. That night we stayed in the “Birgit Nielsen suite”, which honors one of the world’s most famous opera stars. Our suite was filled with an eclectic mix of period piece furniture, modern amenities and paintings along with a “state of the art” modern bathroom and shower. The color combinations on our walls and comforter were reminsicent of a 1960’s flower child photo, We spent some time in one of the Inn’s seating rooms, relaxing and talking to some of the other guests. We then returned to our suite for a great nights sleep. We awoke refreshed, and had a light continental breakfast of fruit, cereal, toast and tea . Since
We left the Maidstone with fabulous memories of an exciting staycation, wonderful and attentive service from an extremely attentive staff. Our brunch at the Living Room was a sensational taste treat in a gorgeous room with a very calm and laid back ambiance. Congratulations to Sophie the General Manager, a lady of style, elegance and charm, India her assistanc who is all about pleasing each and every guest with her energy, laughter and competence. Kudos to Adam for making the Living Room into a much sought after dining venue in the Hampton’s. Highly recommended for couples, family’s and pets... Simply Sensational. perfect year round.. The Maidstone Inn and Living Room Restaurant 207 Main Street East Hampton, NY 11937 tel: 631-324-5006 www.careohotels.com
Il Bacco Ristorante in little neck, new york has been an iconic presence on northern boulevard for the past 21 years. Joe Oppedisano, the warm and welcoming, owner host of the restaurant took this renowned venue to the next level when he moved Il Bacco to a new, larger, and more glamorous venue steps away from the original structure. The new restaurant features dining on 3 distinct dining levels. Joe’s experience as an architect, builder and restauranteur, are on display on all three levels. The main dining room features recessed ceilings, exquisite lighting fixtures, elegant wood tables, banquets, custom flooring and a large elegant wooden bar. The second floor is a caterer’s dream with spacious, expandable dining rooms with capacity of from 30 to 180 people, perfect for weddings, anniversaries, office party’s and celebrations. Joe’s dedication to bringing the very best italian food to his clients has brought an authentic taste of Italy to New York and Long Island. A restaurateur for over 32 years, Joe opened Il Bacco in 1992.and has continued to serve award winning italian cuisine ever since. Known for its welcoming atmosphere and superb food and service has always been Il Bacco’s reputation. Il Bacco’s food and menu includes diverse foods from all over Italy and features fabulous dishes and sauces from Northern and Southern Italy. We arrived at the restaurant at around 6 Pm on a warm winter night, valet parked our car and proceeded to enter the new Il Bacco restaurant. We were met at the large wooden bar area by Maurizio, the youthful, enthusiastic and charming general manager. He gave us a brief history of the restaurant and its menu and then proceeded to introduce us to Doral, our experienced, and upbeat waiter. Doral made our dining experience more enjoyable with his excellent service and insightful menu suggestions. At our table, we were immediately served a plate of hot focaccia rolls and breads along with a plate of parmesan cheese, spicy cherry tomatoes, and green olives. We were immediately impressed with the beautiful decor of the main dining room. Adorned with pictures and posters from italy, soft beige painted walls, tiffany like circular chandeliers, and elegant white table clothes on wooded tables with comfortable chairs. To begin our tuscan feast, we decided to have two small bowls of traditional italian soups: Pasta fagiole, and a hearty minestrone. a great way to begin our evening of italian delicacies.
Doral then brought over to the table Caprese Di Bacco- a plate of sliced red tomatoes, two large slices of freshly made mozzarella cheese, and a pesto sauce with extra virgin olive oil. Delicate and delicious... Since I am a confirmed seafood fan, I asked for a plate of two crabmeat cakes to share. The crab cakes were beautifully prepared, pan fried and totally delicious. It was now time to decide on our entrees and we chose a combination of meat and fish. Our surf and turf choices were “Trancio Di Salmone Oreganata- Fresh Atlantic salmon with a bread crumb topping. The delicately pink hued salmon filet was “off the chain” great! Our other choice was “costelette d’agnello - two thick and juicy baby lamb chops in a natural gravy, with more than enough meat for two days of feasting. Our vegetables were spinach, and sliced baked potatoes. Great food, plated and served beautifully. Although totally satiated by our feast, we could not resist sampling Il Bacco’s famous desserts. We were served a large slice of wet and delicious Ricotta cheese cake with strawberry’s and a plate of luscious tartuffo filled with creamy vanilla ice cream, nuts, and draped in a cloak of frozen dark chocolate. It just doesn’t get any better. We finished our meal with coffee, tea and homemade lemon flavored biscotti. A sweet ending to a fabulous meal. We then spent a few moments with Joe who was making his rounds to see that everyone was enjoying their meal. I then toured the restaurants three levels with Maurizio, going up to each level in their ultra modern glass enclosed elevator. I had a chance to see the new york skyline from the roof and then left for home. A simply fabulous dining experience! Kudos to Joe, and Maurizio for a great evening. Il Bacco Ristorante 253-24 Northern Boulevard Little Neck, NY 11362 Lunch and Dinner served 7 Days a week Call for reservations: 718-224-7657
Modern American Steakhouse
arble, a modern american steakhouse, combines sophisticated urban ambiance with an excellent meat, poultry and fish menu. The restaurant is located on Jericho turnpike in the heart of floral park’s restaurant row.. Marble’s decor is evocative of old world steakhouses with pictures of new york in the 1920’s and 30’s, dark wood panelling and floors. The restaurant offers three distinct and interesting dining rooms: A main dining room with a large active bar, flat screen TV, dark
wood tables and handsome leather banquet seating. A second, smaller dining section, slightly off the main dining roomt for more intimate dining and a third dining room, is one floor above the main dining room, for small parties and catered affairs. We visited Marble on a wednesday night ,as guests of Matt Corbett, a partner and experienced chef. Matt partnered with his cousin Chris to open this new and exciting meat emporium in the summer of 2013. The restaurant focuses on offering the very best “farm to table” offerings as well as beef from premiere ranches in the U.S. We began our meal with an assortment of appetizers with a distinct “Marble” interpretation: a darkly rich Lobster bisque with a lobster dumpling in the center of the bowl. The bisque was boldly flavored and the lobster dumpling made it almost a meal in itself. We next sampled an Iced Shrimp Cocktail- large chilled shrimp with a bourbon molasses cocktail sauce. Simple, straightforward, and excellent! Prior to our entrees we sampled an unusual Hearts of Romaine Salad. Each romaine leaf stacked one on top of another with a hot and spicy “green pepper garlic dressing at the bottom of the plate and grated parmesan cheese throughout. Fabulous! Our entrees consisted of two house specialty’s : A roasted rack of colorado lamb: thick juicy, and grilled with a citrus remoulade, creamed spinach, and pureed potatoes.
Spectacular visually and a total taste treat. More than enough to enjoy over a two day period. A marble cut 16 ounce 21 day aged ribeye steak: beautifully presented on a shining white plate. The steak was accompanied by potato puree, and steamed broccoli. Both the steak and rack of lamb were on par with the finest offered at some of New York’s top steak emporiums. After a 2-1/2 excellent culinary journey it was now time for a fabulous house dessert. We tried an apple crumb dessert made with almond granola and a scoop of homemade chocolate ice cream. Absolutely delicious and tasting like more! Marble was an absolute delight, beautiful decor and ambiance, excellent steakhouse fare, and charming help. Marble also offers pre fixe lunch and a very reasonably price brunch for the weekend. Kudos to Matt and Chris on their exciting new steakhouse.
Marble-modern american steakhouse 230 Jericho Turnpike Floral Park, N.Y. 11001 telephone: 516-500-9666 www.marblesteakny.com Highly recommended, Valet parking, call for reservations
The Ultimate Tri-State Staycation The Hilton Short Hills has all the attributes that make for a great staycation. Located just 20 miles from New York City, the hotel is situated in the beautiful upscale town of Short Hills new jersey. The hotel’s brick and glass exterior dramatically contrasts with the luxurious, contemporary elegance that lies within. The Hotel has much to offer guests and vacationers: indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a glamourous wellness and beauty spa, a totally redesigned luxe dining room, a “state of the art” business “center , a spectacular catering facility/banquet rooms, and fabulous shopping at the nearby mall of short hills. We had looked forward to our weekend at the Hilton Short Hills to see first hand the recently renovated hotel lobby, suites, and relaunched restaurant. Although we arrived at the hotel on an inclement Saturday, our day changed and became “sunny” as we entered this spectacular hotel. We were welcomed by Anthony
Spagnolo, the front office manager and his enthusiastic staff. The newly redecorated lobby is exciting and beautiful with glamorous marble floors, luxe wall hangings and a new jewel like metallic concave element in the center of the ceiling. Our check in was easy, quick and painless, and we were quickly escorted to our luxury suite on the executive level. The suite was elegant,luxurious, and spacious, with a living room, dining room and bedroom. We then went down to the exciting hilton “eforea” spa for an afternoon of sublime relaxation and rest. Elizabeth Whitener the spa supervisor met us and told us about eforea and its treatments. . I then enjoyed a custom swedish massage. My wife experienced a customized cleansing facial. The zen like atmosphere, soothing music and the skilled hands of our aestheticians were all that we
needed to help us reach a new level of rest and relaxation. The eforea spa at Hilton is beautifully designed and laid out for maximum enjoyment. It has a spacious indoor pool, relaxation room with refreshments, and a manicure/ pedicure area. eforea is about a global spa experience, combining three distinct ranges of treatments( journeys) for men and women. eforea was created by Hilton to find the finest elements and practices from Europe, Asia Pacific, middle east, africa and the americas. The end result is a one of a kind spa experience for today’s global travellers and guests. Each treatment offers a unique therapuetic experience that clients will remember, while feeling more energetic. We came away from our treatments feeling revitalized and newly awakened to the joys of spa treatments. A wonderful interlude! “Later that evening we had dinner at “the Dining Room” a stunningly redecorated and redesigned restaurant Elegant tables and chairs combined with magnificent light fixtures made the room look extraordinarily impressive. We were met by the restaurant’s assistant manager Ellen Trimboli who greeted us and escorted us to our table with a beautiful view. Our waitress for the evening was upbeat, knowledgeable and helpful as she suggested dining options from a menu created by Executive Chef Richard Kennedy. Chef Kennedy was kind enough to come by our table to introduce himself and discuss some of the dishes and their ingredients. The menu is filled with some old favorites from the original dining room, as well as new dishes designed personally by Chef Kennedy. The menu features natural home grown ingredients that are farm to table, along with boat to table from local fishermen. We began our meal with a series of special appetizers: - Scallop Rockefeller made with spinach, pernod, bearnaise, and toasted panko. - Homemade Duck Sausage with stewed chickpeas, carrot, and brussel sprout - These were followed by a classic caesar salad made with just the right amount of olive oil and parmesan cheese. Impressive! - For our main courses we were served three of the Dining Room favorites
- Brick Dough Salmon- a large salmon wrapped in brick dough, root vegetable hash - Grilled Jumbo Shrimp each grilled in the shell, salsa verde, avocado aioli herb salad Our entrees concluded with a tasting of the Hilton’s amazing, incredibly large and tasty Cowboy steak, which at 36 Oz. can easily serve a family of four. The steak came with Kale, and roasted garlic butter. We finished our food extravaganza with tea and coffee and a “Cookie Jar” a chocolate chip bar, coconut macaroon, hazelnut tuiles, chocolate crackle, and thumbprint cookie served with vanilla infused milk. We left the Dining room totally satiated and satisfied. We awoke to bright sunshine on Sunday morning and then enjoyed the Hilton’s renowned Sunday Brunch designed by Chef Kennedy and his team.The Brunch menu offers fabulous food, tables of breads, cheeses, and fruits, as well as food stations for omelettes, meats, and poultry. We particularly enjoyed the fresh peeled shrimp, and generous portions of incomparable red and black caviar. Lavish tables filled with assortment of hot and cold dishes were spread throughout the dining room and enhanced the brunch experience with their beauty and aromas.Brunch guests were given a choice of a complimentary Bloody Mary, Screwdriver or Mimosa. Our brunch crowd was an eclectic group of family’s, athletes, guests, and regulars. . We came away totally impressed and delighted at the elegant displays, fabulous food, and wonderful service. Leaving Sunday brunch we briefly toured the large beautifully designed catering facility with its exquisite ballrooms and spiral staircase. We then left to return home from one of the best staycations we have ever experienced! Thanks and Kudos to everyone at Hilton Short Hills for exceptional hospitality. The enthusiastic staff, have raised the Hilton Short Hills to a new higher level of Excellence! They made our staycation a completely joyful experience. The Hilton Short Hills 41 John F. Kennedy Parkway Short Hills, NJ 07078 telephone: 1973-379-0100
The Finest Japanese/Chinese Cuisine on Long Island I had heard great comments about Pearl East in Manhasset for many years, but up until last week, I had never visited this amazing chinese/japanese restaurant. Pearl East is simply the finest far eastern restaurant’s on long island and certainly one of the best in nyc. The restaurant presents an almost innocuous appearance on northern boulevard amidst office buildings and a small inn/hotel. SIX REASONS WHY I LOVE PEARL EAST • Cathy is one of the most charming and delightful host/owners in the hospitality field. • The interior of the restaurant is large and beautifully decorated with fine oriental art, and wall hangings. • The sushi and fantastic asian food menu is a visual and taste treat • The service is excellent with a well dressed wait staff attentive to your needs • Pearl East’s atmosphere and ambiance is urban chic; sophisticated and authentically far eastern in appearance • Every dish is plated with great creativity and imagination- Vegetables and fruits are carved into the shapes of fish and animals of many colors. For our special tasting menu, Cathy set up a feast fit for an emperor/empress. We began our feast with an array of beautifully plated appetizers: large plates of sushi and sashimi including an
• Angry Lobster roll - shrimp tempura inside topped with lobster salad and caviar and a seafood bisque, • Rock n roll- crab, avocado inside topped with tuna and salmon. • Rainbow roll-a california roll topped with tuna, salmon, whitefish, and caviar • Dragon roll-eel and cucumber ibrienside, topped with avocado and caviar Our waiter then brought over an assortment of dim sum : crab meat with pork, steamed vegetable dim sum, steamed chicken shumai, crispy scallops with black pepper. Dishes with food shaped like swans or goldfish were amazingly accurate in their detail. We had a brief “intermezzo” during which we were served an assortment of fruit drinks, flat water, proscecco and wine. This was followed by the entree portion of our feast: • Chicken with Lemon Gras and Snow Pea Pods • Kung Pao Chicken with Peanuts • Crispy Orange Beef • Szechuan Style Spicy Beef • Hunan Lamb All the entree dishes were beautifully plated on ornate china dishes and accompanied by noodles, & rice dishes . Cathy made sure that we also sampled some of Pearl East’s famous house signature dishes as well:
• Peking Duck with House Special Steamed Crepes - Simply amazing in taste and appearance and cut so that the duck was served with sandwiches made of the crispy skin. • Pearl’s Lemon Chicken • Miso Glazed Black Cod • Sizzling Oriental Mish-Mosh- Beef, Lobster, Meat and Crispy Wontons. • Barbecued Jumbo Shrimp with scallions To end our feast on a sweet note we were served assorted plates of sliced and hand carved melons, and an amazing homemade ice cream. Cathy personally watched over our table, explained each dish and its significance in the feast, & provided charming informative information about chinese, japanese and thai food. Cathy and Pearl East are active in the long island community at fundraisers and charity events and have built a significant catering business on and off premises. Kudos to Cathy, her chefs, and the staff at Pearl East for an exquisite dining experience equal to the best of New York’s fine restaurants. Pearl East 1191 Northern Boulevard Manhasset, N.Y. 11030 516-365-9898 Highly recommended, valet parking, call for reservations.
Catering Available on and off Premises
Elaborate Banquet Menu
“Not the run of the mill Chinese... Sushi is an added plus... Something really special!” — Zagat 2012
“The best Chinese food I’ve ever had... You can’t pass this one up if you’re on the island!” ÍÍÍÍÍ Rated by Citysearch
Creative Sushi Chef on Premises
REVEL RESTAURANT AND BAR Eclectic american food in an urban chic environment Revel offers two diverse dining rooms in a restaurant that could have been in the heart of midtown manhattan. The front dining room and bar is casual, hip and loud with music and laughter throughout. The rear dining room is more subtle, elegant and although casual is more formal in attitude. I watched Revel grow from inception since it is next door to my Gym in the heart of garden city. As the work on the restaurant progressed it became obvious that this was a restaurant that tries to at-
tract a young hip audience as well as an upscale, 40-60 crowd. I visited the restaurant as the guest of owner Jim Doukas, a charming hospitality veteran of many years. The store front window is somewhat innocuous, and does not convey the beauty and style of this exciting new restaurant. The interior, seating and bar are sleek and manhattan style chic. We were immediately impressed with the professionalism of the wait staff and management. Revel has attracted a handsome group
of aspiring musicians, actors and actresses, students and professional waiters. The enthusiasm of the staff was exciting and enhanced our meal. Our server Meegan was an aspiring actress with a great big voice and personality who helped us throughout our meal. It also became obvious that Meegan and the other wait staff had been thoroughly trained and indoctrinated into offering fine and meticulous service. A big plus for any restaurant. We decided to try a diverse as-
sortment of tapas (small plates) to form an opinion of the kitchen run by Executive Chef David Martinez. Our table was set with sparkling white dishes, and crystal clear glasses, along with an assortment of exceptional rolls and creamy butter. Revel features superb farm to table meat and vegetables from some of the very best in the hospitality field. We began our meal with a series of appetizers: – Long Ialand Sweet Corn SoupGolden and deliciously sweet with tomato and corn relish and smoked papricka oil. – Veal and Ricotta Salatta Meatballs- a meal in itself with creamy organic polenta, thai basil, and roasted heirloom cherry tomatoes. We then sampled an unusual Kale caesar- healthy and colorful, with Boquerones Caesar dressing, shaved aged manchego, and herb
crostini. Tasty and colorful but not my favorite type of caesar. We also had a salad of house made burrata and heirloom tomato-lemon basil burrata mousse, herb salad, white balsamic cheese.a creamy and delicious homemade specialty. After a brief break for some pleasant conversation with Jim, and his GM Toula we eagerly awaited our entrees prepared by James Beard nominee, Executive Chef David Martinez. We sampled: – Pappardelle- slow roasted lamb ragu, cranberry beans, mint and cana de cabra goat cheese. – Porterhouse steak- large thick juicy slices on par with the very
best of the steakhouses on Long Island, which came with an assortment of sauces: a pomegranate bordelaise, three mustard sauce, a revel sauce, and a horseradish sauce. This was served with duck fat house fries, and creamed spinach. We also sampled an herb roasted amish chicken breast made with pancetta, tuscan bean ragu, and swiss chard. Perfectly made, soft and flowing with delicate juices. For our final entree we tried an out of this world grilled wild alaskan king salmon, accompanied by asparagus, hon shimeji mushrooms, roasted shallots, and lemon verbena aioli. For dessert We chose an extra creamy cheesecake and 3 different flavored sorbets. All good and a sweet ending to a superb evening. At long last, New York dining has come to Garden City.. with NYC pricing..
Catch a rising star
Porto Vivo restaurant, in huntington, is one of long island's best kept culinary secrets... This stunning restaurant is owned by Joy Mangano, one of america's most successful women inventors/entrepreneurs. Aside from its beauty and sophistication, the restaurant features the culinary genius of Executive Chef Joe Balbo. Approximately 8 years ago, I first met Joe Balbo while dining in Babylon. At that time Joe was 21 years old and a cre-
ative and dynamic force as a manager and chef. Aside from his epicurean menu, Joe had assembled a young, highly professional staff who loved working for him. Flash forward to this past week, when I once again met with Joe at Porto Vivo, the ideal showcase for his many faceted talents. Porto Vivo is an exciting restaurant with a unique charm and sophistication not often found on Long Island. The restaurant has 3 distinct serving areas on three sepa-
rate levels. The main dining room on the first level is spacious, handsome and elegant; the second level has a large circular bar and a small mini stage for live music. The third level offers comfortable seating and banquets in a casual, relaxed atmosphere. Porto Vivo offers their regular menu, comfort food, tapas, and tasting menus on all three levels. We visited Porto Vivo anticipating an exciting dining adventure and were thrilled at the tasting menu we were
served. Joe's genius is his ability to create unique flavor combinations that produce taste sensations that are memorable. The restaurant has their menus on i pads so that diners can see exactly what they are ordering. It made it easy to understand our tasting menu. Joe sent over an Amuse (Chef's gift) of "Beer and Clams" - A single littleneck clam made in beer,. topped with peroni sorbetto with a hot sauce spuma- A truly amazing taste combination with sorbet giving a sweet edge to the juice and meat of the clam. Our first course was a home made Burrata combined with grilled watermelon, heirloom tomatoes, and scented with hickory smoke. The burrata was
white, creamy and delicious with the wonderfully refreshing taste of grilled watermelon and the sweetness of heirloom tomatoes. Next on Joe's hit parade was an Octopus Crostini- A generous portion of octopus meat on a fresh crusty crostini prepared with sherry vinegar, lemon and basil. Although I had never been a big fan of octopus or squid, this dish made me a convert Our 3rd tasting course was Olive Poached Halibut- a beautifully prepared halibut made with black truffle emulsion, asian pear and crispy broccoli rabe. A seafood lover's dreamtopped with the sweetness of asian pear and the crispiness of brocolli rabe at its very best A duo of Pasta was our next
course- A combination of cavetelli with rabbit ragu acompanied by braised shortrib manicotti. delicious, hearty, and beautifully plated. We were served PorchettaButternut Squash Puree-Brussel Sprouts with Italian Honey and Peanuts, with roasted mushroom and summer peach demi. A dish that takes almost 8 hours to prepare .Spectacular! and worth every hour of preparation. I am a devotee of gourmet onion soups and I could not resist sampling Joe's Tuscan Onion Soup. This dish takes hours of preparation and comes to the table looking like a fried dumpling. It is made of homemade onion soup combined with risotto and rolled into dumpling and then cooked. Absolutely out of this world! At the end of our meal, Joe sent over a tray of homemade italian pastries and homemade gelato in 3 wondrous flavors. This was topped off with Iced Cappucino, and tea. Highly recommended for those who appreciate the very best in cuisine and atmosphere...Not to be missed! Kudos to Joe Balbo, an executive chef extraordinaire, and his staff. Its hard to beat a combination of a beautiful restaurant, laid back sophisticated ambiance, fantastic food, and a caring and knowledgeable wait staff.
E xcellence T he es sential ingredients
FOR ENJOYING A FINE MEAL
What makes a dining experience memorable? The Food-Fine restaurants don’t attract a loyal following unless their food is consistently good. Sophisticated diners appreciate well prepared food, made according to the diners request and served in a timely manner. "Farm to Table" food sourced from local suppliers who provide farm fresh vegetables, meat, fish and poultry chemical and steroid free are becoming the norm today, Our society today recognizes the value of healthy bodies and healthy food. In 2013 simple family, or home cooked style recipes that are broiled, baked, pan sautéed, and gently seasoned are much sought after. Olive oil, Avocados, Quinoa are today’s wonder ingredients because of their amazing benefits to the mind and body.
Presentation is a key element in making a meal enjoyable. Fine restaurants pr Qesent each course as is if they were a piece of artwork. Symmetry, color, and balance are vital to presentation.Think of the difference between drinking a glass of fine imported champagne in a beer glass or in fine crystal stemware. The champagne remains the same, but the visual pleasure and experience is dramatically different. Crystal goblets mentally enhance the taste and experience! Restaurants with superb food but poor presentation miss the mark!
Ambiance – Do you feel like a welcome guest or just a name on a reservation sheet? Does the decor and style of the room make for a comfortable and relaxing dining experience? I am awed by the magnificent decor, design and ambiance of both Megu's in New York & Tom Schaudel's Jewel Restaurant. Today, there are many local restaurants that make their guests feel like part of their extended family and not just another name on a reservation list.
Service- No matter how fine the food is, if a restaurants service is slow, inattentive, and poorly trained the result is frustration and anger . It may be hard to find well trained, customer friendly
waiters and attendants,but I have found most excellent restaurants make sure their help is welltrained. and fully conversant with the menu and specials. I enjoy having maitre D’s and waiters with knowledge of their menu , warm friendly personalities and who pay attention to their customers needs. . This type of excellent service is consistently provided on the North Shore of Long Island at Bryant & Cooper, Cippolini, and Stresa. Good Service includes changing napkins between courses and silverware when necessary, as well as refilling water glasses during the meal. A maitre D'/waiter with a pleasant personality and knowledge of the menu, who offers advice and guidance builds an immediate rapport.
A Great Host-. Giorgio, at Stresa in Manhasset, is the consummate restaurant host/owner. He is dapper,knowledgeable charming and totally in control of his kitchen and dining room. His warm welcoming attitude and manner has made Stresa one of the most popular restaurants on Long Island. Koichi Yokoyama, President and GM of Megu in Manhattan is young, charming, handsome, and warm. His vision, and attention to detail has made Megu one of the most beautiful and desired restaurants in Manhattan. I am always impressed with hosts who are not intrusive but are always there to make sure your dining experience is first-rate. Hosts who handle large crowds at key times with skill and generosity can turn even a potential disaster into an excellent evening.
Clean restrooms Taking pride in your restaurants restroom should be a nobrainer. Yet I have been to many restaurants where the restrooms are dirty, foul-smelling and unpleasant. Going to the restroom may be one of your last impressions of a restaurant and it certainly is important that memory be pleasant. Providing efficient soap dispensers, toilet paper, paper towels, hot air blowers and a pleasantly scented air freshener are essential.
jewel Jewel, Tom Schaudel's latest and most glamorous restaurant venture, opened in Melville to a great deal of fan fare. The restaurant was at the base of rubie plaza, a gorgeous hirise office built by the phenomenally successful rubie costume company who have dominated the popularly priced holiday costume business for years. Ultra modern, utilizing green hued glass, steel, and fabulous lighting, in many ways reminiscent of the wonderful, whimsical world of the wizard of Oz. Jewel is like a beacon of light seen from both the Long Island Expressway and Route 110 in Melville. The restaurant, at its opening offered the very best of Tom
Schaudel's cuisine, a gorgeous luxe interior, a comic relief bathroom, a large open air kitchen, a spectacular bar and a wall of fine wines. Jewel was created to make a statement: "Here we are" and it most definitely has accomplished its mission. It is always interesting to go back to a restaurant after it has settled in and established its real vibe. To this end, I was excited to once again enjoy Tom's unique brand of cooking and entertainment. Tom is a terrific talent, easy going guy with the instincts of a showman. A year after our first introduction to Jewel, I came away with an entirely new perspective about the
restaurant. Jewel, although still Vegas style glam upon first look, has enhanced its focus, while adding a new layer of clients. Jewel is still a place to go for a special occasion, but it is now also a place where you need not be overwhelmed by its exterior charms. The clientele remains upscale but more inclusive, and more casual in their attire and demeanor. The kitchen and the "laugh out loud" mens room all fit seamlessly into the still beautiful decor. The food, as always is excellent and reflects Schaudel's emphasis on "treasures from the sea" and farm to table ingredients.
Our dinner that evening was a cornucopeia of neptunian delights:
Toffee- A sticky pudding/ made with pecan brittle/banana, and butterscotch.
Sea Bass- a spectacular, amazingly tasty plate of fish with lobster sauce, spinach, and smoked tomato relish
Pistachio -pistachio gelato, chocolate, pistachio cake/root beer float
Tuna Tartare- a delightful pink colored mound made with red ginger, chilis, soy, and avocado Moroccan Spiced Hummusmade with Banana Peppers Risotto Balls- Each Ball filled with short rib center, reggiano, and tomato sauce
Lobster- An irresistable full sized lobster butter poached, with lobster risotto, mushrooms, leeks and white truffle oil. After dinner we were served two special desserts:
Our evening was a superb combination of great cuisine, fine service, and a delightful atmosphere of casual elegance. Kudos to Tom Schaudel and his fine staff for bringing another exciting new restaurant to long island, with Tom's unique presentation and panache.