I’m writing (well, okay, typing) this completely off-the-cuff and sort of randomly! So, my wife and myself have lived in Suffolk County, Long Island for about four months now after moving from Queens, New York. We’ve tried a lot of restaurants, cafes, take-outs and bars, pubs and breweries. Here are some of my thoughts and some of our experiences so far…
I’ve already posted a Port Jefferson article on here, so I might be repeating myself a bit but let’s start from locally and then sometimes move outwards:
One of our favourite places ever, ever, ever is our closest brewery bar of Po’ Boy. It’s humble, beautifully laid out, ultra friendly and one of the happiest places in the world! We often play retro board games. There’s the main bar room up front and the “sour patch” at the back (a bit more lounge-y). They do classic beers and funky, experimental ones on a rotating basis. It’s kind of a best kept secret, and we want the owners to always do wonderfully without it ever getting too packed!!
below, at Po’ Boy, where life gets happy and sometimes blurry…
In town, “Downport” Port Jefferson, there’s the established PJ Brewery that also does some excellent ales and has a tasting room. Outside they often stage live, free music.
There’s breweries and distilleries all around here, in many Suffolk County towns. Oh, and vineyards to boot! We hear Sand City Brewery – in Northport on the North Shore and Lindenhurst on the South – is great but we haven’t got around to it yet. Shooot, when I look online I see there are so many we need to get around to, but what a great problem to have! Jamesport Brewery, Long Ireland Beer etc etc etc! We have been to Northfork Brewing in Riverhead on the point where the forks begins out East, and that’s also a wonderful place with fine beers. One of those semi-outdoorsy, spacious and bright places AND it’s an old fire house (fire station if you’re British; I had to fit that in).
On to eateries, here are some thoughts, some standouts and also places that we want to try in Suffolk County:
Italian and Greek
Now, we have to say that Mediterranean food is not the high quality it is in Queens. But then there is less of a NY-Italian, NY-Greek population out here so it’s understandable. We enjoyed pizza in a casual setting on our one visit to Colosseo Pizza in Port Jeff (a little out of town). In fact, they only do pizza there. And, as mentioned in my last article we absolutely love The Pie restaurant in Downport PJ. We tried Pasta Pasta – also Downport on quaint and charming East Main Street – recently. It was for Marie’s birthday, and was suitably romantic and with delicious fare. We shared a burrata salad to kick off, then for Marie pappardelle bolognese for entree, for myself blackened Cajun style chicken with bowties and cream sauce and we also shared an inspired dessert called a “chocolate bag”! A crisp, thick chocolate bag shape, filled with white chocolate mousse and fresh fruit. As Del Boy from ‘Only Fools and Horses’ would say, it was the crème de la menthe!
With Greek, everything has been mediocre so far compared to Queens restaurants apart from a freshly carved gyro wrap at a big Greek Festival in PJ we went to a few weeks ago. Gyro meat in many establishments here is we suspect not fresh from a spit, but likely frozen. But we think we’ve found a great looking Greek restaurant online, Yiros in St. James two or three towns over from us. St. James is a bastion of good eating, we feel so far.
Spanish or Latin American
We loved take-out food from Salsa Salsa in PJ the other day: baja fish tacos (too much pink cabbage but still delicious) and the spicy roast pork chili verde was top banana. We ate those on a bench on a windy evening by the marina and beach.
If you want Spanish-Spanish, there are three we know of. Two of which we know:
In Babylon Village on the South Shore, NoaMar Markets is the real deal. It’s not a market really, though there is a small shop within the casual dining area. Tapas are very fresh and very delicious. We bought a paella pan from there imported from Valencia! Not far from where I used to live in Spain in 2004.
In the town of Commack there are two. We know Sangria 71 very well, having eaten at the Williston Park location in Nassau County several times. Fine paella, and the restaurant is very authentically decorated. They even serve carajillo coffee – the brandy version anyway, as the liqueur Ponche seems hard to buy in the U.S. Anyway, the Sangria 71 Commack restaurant looks the largest of the three in their small chain (owned by Spanish brothers I think). They also have Live Flamenco dancers there, though nothing recent in these covid times as far as we can tell.
Then, really close to Sangria 71 is another very traditional looking place called Casa Luis which gets equally good reviews.
In or around PJ there are two of note, both owned by the same family. Curry Club in Setauket is very good. More old fashioned style with large portions of traditional dishes. They have a railway carriage dining room too! Saghar is their much newer sister restaurant, in Port Jeff, and it has Indian, Indian-fusion and even a few totally non-Indian dishes too. The rooftop bar is gorgeous with a view over the harbour. We love their Indian-style fish and chips appetiser!
Again, we haven’t quite found the preeminence of flavour yet but we very much like two little places near us: Lemonleaf for Thai and Do Eat for Chinese. Both really good, but not quite the apex like BKNY and Little Dumpling are in Queens. We’re happy though, but we’ll keep searching for the best duck (which I haven’t tried yet at Lemon Leaf anyway).
Bostwicks in Easthampton is amazing. Very good lobster roll, but it’s really the lobster bisque that takes the plaudits. A lot of quality lobster in there, luxurious taste and quality and only $9 for a good size amount! Plus you sit next to Alec Baldwin, or at least we somehow did.
In Port Jefferson, for pretty nice dishes in a fast food style then the Steam Room is well worth eating at. It’s opposite the ferry launch (to and from Connecticut) so gets very busy. And it’s cheap. We wouldn’t especially recommend the lobster roll there, but fish and chips and other dishes are quite delicious. We aim to try Nantuckets soon and see what their lobsta is like at a little more gourmet level.
For local, top quality burgers, fries etc it’s got to be Gourmet Burger Bistro! We joke that for each of our old favourite eats in Queens, we’re finding some equivalent out here and this is definitely close to Press 195 – the small chain that does hot and cold pressed panini sandwiches, burgers and Belgian fries – in Queens.
For barbecue, one of the also small chain of Old Fields restaurants is the BBQ one in Setauket (about fifteen minutes from Port Jeff). Great meats, great food served in a casual style. We loved sitting at the bar there, combining it all with cocktails. The staff, by the way, are encouraged to wear their favourite band t shirts. What a novel idea!
Mavi Turkish restaurant in a leafy area of Mount Sinai is recommended, with a beautiful room and ornate fireplace inside. Very friendly and small family run.
At the farmers market in PJ on Sundays, a bubbly and friendly lady from Jordan sells Middle Eastern snacks, small food stuffs and spices.
We want to try out Basil Cafe Persian restaurant in St. James, which gets fantastic reviews although slightly pricey so we’ll save it for the right time.
Irish/British and pubgrub
I’m running out of steam now, but simply to say we loved Buckley’s Irish Pub-restaurant in Moriches. And when in Ronkonkoma recently for a big street fair, we couldn’t help but notice Flanagans. That also gets outstanding reviews.
We haven’t found much English at all, but Marie just discovered that there is an ex-Pat English chap in Sayville who caters out some classic British treats!
Get yerself down to Robinson’s Tea Room in quaint and really beautiful Stony Brook, that’s all we can say! The tea room and the whole area feel very much like the best of picturesque, small town England.
Okay, enough already but I hope this was entertaining and useful as a very rough and random guide…