Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Pizza Quest Continues: La Margherita, Medford, NY

Since deciding that Pizzeria Bianco was a disappointment, I have been on the hunt for a winning pie. La Margherita in Medford claims that they were the first to offer pizza from a wood burning oven on Long Island. So I figured it was worth a shot.

Tucked between industrial parks and strip malls, this stand alone pizzeria/ Italian restaurant combo smells like a fireplace from the outside. They are not kidding about that wood burning oven. It's hot. Really hot. 

There is no atmosphere in the pizzeria, unless you count the great Long Island people watching and there is plenty of that. 

The pizza? Eh. This pizza quest is not as easy as I thought it would be. It was good with the requisite crispness but the mozzarella could have been fresher and it needed salt. Actually, more spices and herbs were needed overall, the basil helping was pretty meager. 

Not to say we didn't finish it. 
The before: 
And the after:

JB also had a plain slice for, um, research purposes. It was standard, nothing special. 

And the quest continues. 

Until our next Burger, 

La Margherita
1229 Station Road
Medford, NY

Friday, September 19, 2014

Montauk Day Trip: Navy Beach, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Sweettauk, Budda Berry and Candied Anchor, Montauk, NY

While summer officially ends this week, Montauk is alive and vibrant as ever (at least through Columbus Day).  So gas up the car or jump on the train and head as East as possible.  Traffic should be slightly better but no promises, we are verging on pumpkin season.

Here's how we did it:

Stop 1: Navy Beach

Navy Beach has been our go to since it opened in 2010.  The setting can't be beat. Sitting on a rocky beach drinking rose is an ideal way to spend an afternoon. The problem is the food is not that great.

Really it's fine, albeit pricey. A tuna tataki salad is a nice light solution for lunch. Or load up on ceviche. The burger is good and the boys enjoyed that almost as much as they loved playing in the sand. 

Stop 2: Red Hook Lobster Pound & Sweettauk

For a lot less money and better food, we picked up lobster rolls of varying kinds from the Red Hook Lobster Pound for dinner. The summer takeout outpost of this Brooklyn mainstay is a must visit. 

There are so many choices. Lobster bisque, Lobster BLT, Lobster mac and cheese, and of course your Lobster roll in a Connecticut, Maine, Tuscan or Bikini style.  I prefer a Connecticut (go figure) mainly because it's only butter and Lemon - no mayo and no celery (my nemesis). 

We tried almost everything. The lobster roll, which comes with North Fork Potato Chips, was our favorite. And may even be better than the one we had at Claws in June. There is a good bun to lobster ratio and the flavors were spot on. 

Plus, as a bonus, they share their shop with Sweettauk, a local lemonade specialist. Wow, lobster rolls and lemonade, it's doesn't get much better than that.

Stop 3: Buddha Berry

And since we all have a sweet tooth, we couldn't leave Montauk without dessert, 

Buddha Berry is a step above your everyday yogurt shop. The flavors are better and the toppings are more interesting, some are even healthful! Some.

At most swirl your own shops like Buddha Berry, prices can get out of control. But they didn't here, at least not with our party.

Sitting in their outdoor lounge area was the cherry on top of our Montauk day.

Stop 4: Candied Anchor 
Just as we tried to pull out of town, there was one final stop - the Candied Anchor.  This classic sweetshop got us sugared up for the drive home.  I recommend the rock candy.

Until our next Berger Day Trip,

Our Montauk List:

Navy Beach
16 Navy Road

Red Hook Lobster Pound & Sweettauk
34 South Etna Avenue

43 South Euclid Avenue

Candied Anchor
721 Main Street

Monday, September 15, 2014

Amagansett Day Trip: Hampton Chutney, Jack's Stir Brew and The Meeting House, Amagansett, NY

Our newest topic on the blog is Day Trips. Always up for an adventure, day trips allow us to explore for more than just one meal. And the late summer and fall is an ideal time to perfect the day trip. 

Our first outing: Amagansett.

Once known to me only as the place between East Hampton and Montauk, Amagansett is a town to visit and enjoy entirely on it's own.  While the beach is the main attraction, Amagansett Square, a collection of small white buildings on Montauk Highway, house almost everything you'd need for a day trip.  Food, drink, shopping and more. 

Stop 1: Hampton Chutney 
Boy do I wish Hampton Chutney was in my town.   This counter service spot has just a few tables inside and a few more outside for dining and it is packed. They specialize in Dosas (light, crispy sour-dough crepe made from rice and lentils) and Uttapams (same rice-lentil batter made into an open-faced pancake). Note: Both are of those are Hampton Chutney's definitions.  My definition? An Indian Burrito.  

The Classic Masala with a spiced Indian potato filling is one of my favorites.  Add a cilantro chutney and you have an ideal lunch.  We also adore the Potato Masala - sort of the same as the classic but different with the addition of chicken and spinach.

The only thing I don't like is the service.  We called our order in, were given a 15 minute window and it wound up taking close to 45 minutes for the two dosas.  Worth it? Yes.

Stop 2: Jack's Stir Brew
Not on the original itinerary, JB needed coffee and this was recommended as the best place in town. Mind you the best comes with a hefty price - over $5 for a simple coffee and an organic (and actually quite delicious) doughnut was close to $4. Welcome to the Hamptons. 

Stop 3: The Meeting House
We were fortunate to have dinner with friends visiting from out of town so our typical party of 4 was upped to a party of 8. Even better - the Meeting House only takes reservations for parties of 8 or more. Strolling in without the typical wait was a true luxury.

The Meeting House is a year round establishment in the back of Amagansett Square. Outdoors or indoors, it is charming - the kind of place you could dine at several nights a week. 

Menu choices range from a requisite burger to mussels to steak. They also have a substantial kids menu.

After the day of eating we'd had, I chose the two appetizer route. A dish of string beans with garlic and bacon was stellar. Bacon pieces were substantial in size and taste. The lamb meatballs with tzatziki were a close second.

Other table members enjoyed oysters, roasted corn, pizza from a wood burning oven and that burger I mentioned.  The kids all loved their meals, especially the ice cream for dessert. 

Service was a bit spotty.  The mussels came out long after the rest of the main courses and a piece of plastic was found in one dish but this is a busy spot.  I'd like to return in the winter and take advantage of the their $25 prix-fixe, 2 courses plus a glass wine.  Who's joining us? 

Until our next Berger Day Trip,

Hampton Chutney
6 Main Street

Jack's Stir Brew
146 Montauk Highway

The Meeting House
4 Amagansett Square

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Lunch Explorations: Jane Cafe, Mineola, NY

After years of working in the same office, I've decided that I need to do a better job of exploring my local lunch options. The first locale was Jane Cafe, a korean/sushi dive that unbeknownst to me was just a few minutes away.

Jane is in Mineola, a few blocks from the train station, but has a decidedly Queens feel.  This ethnic style of eating screams outer boroughs.

At lunch, Jane is filled with nearby hospital workers and attorneys, and at night, it's more of a no frills foodie destination.  Either version works for me.

If you visit at peak hours, expect a wait.  We arrived at 11:50 for lunch and there were no tables shortly after 12.  My table of sushi lovers decided to go for the Korean side of the menu.

This is very traditional Korean.  BiBimBap and Bulgogi are just as much fun to eat as they are to say.  I chose a Dolsot BiBimBap in a Hot Pot.  The black steaming bowl of brown rice, beef, carrots, zucchini and bean sprouts (I had them hold the egg) arrived smoking hot and still cooking.  I cautiously added some hot bean paste sauce and then enthusiastically added the rest.

Spicy, delicious and filling, I understand why this is the most popular lunch item at the restaurant.

I can't wait to go back and try some more of their specialties.  I may even bring some home as takeout  for JB.

Until our next Berger,

Jane Cafe
92 Main Street
Mineola, NY
No website but plenty of reviews on Yelp

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Good Chinese Food Found: Yao's Diner, Centereach, NY

We are on a never-ending quest for good Chinese food.  Newsflash - the quest may end at Yao's Diner in Centereach.  Yes, tucked in a strip mall in Suffolk County is a Chinese Mecca. 

Started by two Stony Brook grad students from China, this is the real deal. Hot pots, smoked duck, whole fish - they have it all. And if you want "American Style" they have that, too. 

Yao's really is diner-like with quick service and booths. And all but a few of the patrons were of Asian descent. 

I could not resist ordering the Fried Lamb with Cumin. I cannot get this dish, aka Musim Lamb, out of my head since our visit to Fu Run in Flushing.

Their take was different though. Large pieces of lamb came tossed in oil with a heaping pile of cilantro, garlic and ginger.  It was still amazing and to say I loved it would be an understatement. 

A noodle dish was a must.  Since it was a hot day, I chose cold sesame noodles.  I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of peanut sauce and instead amused by the je ne sais quoi flavor.  The kind that makes you keep eating it.

We also had rice and lots of it.  Two dishes, unlimited rice, a pot of tea and $21 later we were done.

A bargain in anyone's book.  A party for the taste buds.  Our new Sunday night spot.

We will be back soon and often.

Until our next Burger,

Yao's Diner
2503 Middle Country Road
Centereach, NY
No website but plenty of reviews on Yelp, Trip Advisor, etc.