Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Quicksie Roadside Greek: Greek Bites, Moriches, NY

Greek Bites is one of those places that you really don't want to share, it's that good.

Who would guess that a non-assuming roadside stand on Montauk Highway in the small town of Moriches would have consistently amazing falafel, souvlaki, gyro and moussaka. They have incredible hummus and a tangy and delectable eggplant dip. JB's favorite, taramosalata (caviar spread for the unitiated), is spectacular.

The challenge here is space. In the summer, you can sit outside watching the trucks go by as top 40 blares from their speakers. I usually dance while waiting for the food. It is pleasant for about 10 minutes, and luckily, that's just about how long this food lasts in our family.

In the colder months, though, there is no indoor seating, so this is strictly a takeout establishment. But, unlike most other places in the greater Westhampton area, they deliver. So visit or dial today.

Greek Bites Grill & Cafe
183 Montauk Highway
Moriches, NY

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More Food Truck Fun: Riverhead, NY

Another day, another food truck adventure.

Yesterday, we attended a charity concert for All For the East End (AFTEE) that was complete with a 70s Disco Dance Party with Nile Rodgers and Chic, a leather-clad and platform-shod Adam Lambert and some serious DJ action from Avicii.

But before the show, tastes from the many visiting food trucks comprised our dinner. Our culinary journey took us to several corners of the world while we sat in a vineyard on the North Fork of Long Island.

Here's what we tried:

- Montaco: For $6, we had a fishy tasting, if not tasteless, shrimp taco. Six minuscule shrimp, one slice of radish and a squeeze of lime were the only ingredients on a sad yellow corn tortilla. This especially bummed me out because according to their website, their shrimp should include tomato, avocado and spicy mayo on a blue corn tortilla.

- Palenque Food: After spending $6 on the bad taco, the $5 we spent on a cheese arepa was the best money ever spent. For those of you not familiar with an arepa, get familiar. Fast. It is a corn-based flatbread with a variety of toppings and/or fillings. Our cheese version came with tons of oaxacan cheese topped with arugula, chipotle mayo and cilantro (plus a little butter thrown in). This is lighter and better than any pizza you could ever have. We took an extra cilantro sauce and JB tried to drink it. I wish this food truck would park on my street forever.

- Hibachi Heaven: Every year JB asks if we can go to Hibachi for his birthday, and I always get out of it, so I was excited that he could just have Hibachi from a truck. Two birds, one stone. Unfortunately, this operation is flawed starting with the pre-cooked, cold rice. Even with a hot topping, we choose tofu and vegetables (chicken and steak are also on offer) the dish never really gets hot. JB declared it pedestrian and akin to mall food. Guess I'll have to take JB to Benihana after all.

- Carl's Steaks: JB loves a traditional Philly Cheese Steak. I am not a fan. The bread is too soggy and neither shaved beef nor Cheese Wiz is my thing. The Philly Cheese Steak at Carl's Steaks is traditional and has all of the ingredients that dissuade me from taking more than one bite. JB, as expected, loved it.

In addition to those main components of our eclectic meal we also tasted the coffee from the ever delicious Hampton Coffee Company and tried a close to amazing blondie from the appropriately-named Blondie's Bake Shop.

And then it was time to dance off the calories.

Until our next Berger, KLB

Thursday, August 15, 2013

North Fork Pizza: Grana, Jamesport, NY

We all know that the North Fork of Long Island has become a destination for the wine lovers and drinkers in New York and beyond, but what you may not know is that it is also a destination for pizza. And since its inception in 2010, Grana in Jamesport is the North Fork pizza destination. On our recent Saturday night visit, it was packed with everyone from babies in their infant carriers to patrons tipsy from an afternoon at the wineries. We were somewhere in between that spectrum. Maybe leaning a little towards the post-winery side.

And everyone is there for the pizza. Our party of 8 had two pies. The classic margherita and their most popular pie, the NoFo. The margherita looked amazing: a thin, charred crust with huge pieces of fresh mozzarella. But this is a knife and fork kind of pizza. I learned the hard way when I picked up a slice to give to little D and it collapsed. The cheese actually slid right off the slice and onto the table. On the second try, it tasted as good as it looked.

The NoFo has the same tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella as the margherita, plus add roasted onions and sausage. This is one heavy slice. I didn't make the same mistake twice and held it with both hands as I gently transferred it to my plate. This was certainly a crowd pleaser, although the sausage had a bit too much fennel for my liking.

JB surprised me with an order of their take on an eggplant parmesan. Two large olive-oil doused, roasted eggplant discs came covered in mozzarella (noticing a trend here?) with a side of heavily-sauced linguine. A definitely party in the mouth.

Grana is also famous for their meatballs. We had two orders of these fresh-ground pleasers. This would be a perfect simple meal if Grana didn't have all of the pizzas to choose from.

This is the kind of place where you could go every week, get your favorite pizza and one other special. I hear they change often and are always the perfect complement to any pizza.

Until our next Berger, KLB

1556 Main Road
Jamesport, NY 11947

Monday, August 05, 2013

Bistro Bar Bites: Little Red, Southampton, NY

Eating at the bar is not a new thing for us, but lately we are obsessed. Seeing the interplay between the bartenders, sitting side by side, not having a server worrying about "pacing" your meal - all make the overall experience more fun and more enjoyable. Yes, eating at the bar has its time and place, and I recommend you make time to make Little Red that place.

A traditional French Bistro, Little Red is the casual sister to the more formal French restaurant Red Bar, also in Southampton.

While casual, it is not necessarily less expensive, but the food is more proletariat, more attainable. They have your requisite steak frites and roast chicken, but they also offer burgers, pizza and grilled cheese, French style, of course.

JB was craving a burger. And I was happy to oblige, especially when we were presented with the cheese choices: American, cheddar, blue or brie. A brie burger? Easiest choice I've made in months.

The cheese kept on coming when we also ordered a flatbread pizza with gruyere, fontina and arugula. And truffles, let's not forget the truffles.

The bartenders gave me a generous pour of the house Pinot Noir (another plus of sitting at the bar) as we nibbled on delicious baguette and butter. And then the cheese parade marched in.

We dove into the burger. The burger itself was thick and juicy, but the brie was the star. Why more restaurants do not serve a brie burger is beyond me. Each bite was better than the last.

The flatbread pizza was paper thin with beautiful grill marks. The gruyere fought with the truffles for the leading role of this dish, but I'm happy to give the award to both. And the truffles were plentiful so that each bite had truffles AND cheese.

We flirted with the idea of cheesecake for dessert to round out the night, but alas it was time to turn in the cheesecloth.

Until our next Berger, KLB

Little Red
76-C Jobs Lane
Southampton, NY

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Mid-Summer Update: Starr Boggs, Westhampton Beach, NY

At the start of this season, we reviewed dinner at Starr Boggs. We were surprised to find the dinner not up to par, but we knew it may have just been opening night jitters. After dinner last week, we were right. Starr Boggs is back and better than ever.

On a recent Thursday night, JB and I were pleasantly surprised to find a completely packed restaurant. Without a reservation, we had assumed we'd be dining at a bar table. And even those were taken. Luckily, we found a spot at the outdoor bar.

In our small town, the bar is always a fun spot since you never know who you might run into. And you benefit from the same quality food, but in a more casual atmosphere.

We had just been to a movie where we couldn't resist the popcorn, so we opted for some appetizers only. We started with a tuna dish that offered two different types: a seared ahi tuna and a tuna tartar. We should have doubled this. JB and I tried to share fairly. It was hard. Both tuna options were excellent, better than any recent sushi we'd had.

To compliment the cool evening, we chose a heartier dish: tagliatelle with truffles. The homemade pasta was excellent, the sauce had a light touch of cream and a heavy touch of truffles. Another win.

In lieu of a third appetizer, JB wanted dessert. The list is long but we settled on the chocolate pecan pie. This is no traditional pecan pie, instead it is more of a chocolate pie adorned with pecans and caramel, plus some vanilla ice cream. A glass of port made the dessert even better.

This was the perfect date night: movies, truffles and dessert.

Until our next Berger, KLB

Starr Boggs
6 Parlato Drive
Westhampton Beach, NY 11978

Hamptons Waterfront Dining Part 2: Saltwater Grill, Westhampton Beach, NY

As we continue on our quest for the ultimate Hamptons waterfront restaurant, we look closer to home at Saltwater Grill in Westhampton Beach. Housed in the Dune Deck Beach Resort, this is the place if you want oceanfront dining.

Large picnic-style tables line the vast deck along the dunes where you can enjoy an al fresco lunch or dinner. A large bar with tables for appetizers and an area for the band, complete the outdoor setting. During the week they offer the usual specials to draw a crowd (think lobster night, pasta night, etc.), but on the weekends no specials are needed to pack the place.

Ask yourself the question: Who wouldn't want to have dinner oceanside listening to live music? And you'll understand why there is almost always a wait at Salwater Grill.

Whether the wait is worth it is up to you. Over the course of recent visits, we thoroughly enjoyed the fried calamari appetizer which is laced with a buffalo sauce and is super spicy. Yet the ample hummus platter lacks flavor. The chicken milanese (one of my favorites) is pounded thin just how I like it and adorned with a pile of greens. Fish tacos are popular and deserve that recognition. I am on the fence about the lobster roll because while it tastes good, it has a green tinge that makes we wonder.

There are definitely more positives than negatives and you can't beat the location. Stick with the basics and you'll have an enjoyable evening, especially if the band is good.

Until our next Berger, KLB

Saltwater Grill
Dune Deck Hotel
379 Dune Road
Westhampton Beach, NY