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MONSTER Hot Dogs at Frank N Burger!

The Bountiful Gourmet has been missing in action for the past few weeks, but that means he was on the road, finding more great places to eat at ridiculous prices. Frank N Burger is our pick of the month. Located in St. James, not far from the Stony Brook campus, this new hot spots serves gargantuan-sized hot dogs that would make Dracula take a bite. The hot dogs are specially made, 12” long and the size of baseball bats. Let me assure you, there is nothing subtle about this dog, but it is delicious. On the Frank N Dog you can have up to 12 toppings for free, including bacon, ketchup, mustard, their special pink sauce, sautéed onions, ham, pineapple, mozzarella cheese and crushed potato chips. The price? An obscene $3.75. You heard me right. $3.75. For the price of a Nathan’s hot dog, you can have a work of art. And the combo, which comes with fries and a soda, is only $6.25. Who is the mad scientist behind this masterpiece? His name is Mauricio, and he and his family have restaurants in Suffolk. Using special ingredients, the dogs are fabulous, and they come on a roll specially made for the big 12 incher. Also on the menu is a huge Frank N Burger, a pound + of grilled perfection. It also comes with the same ingredients as the Dog. Think you’re a big eater? Try the Burger and Hot Dog in one sitting. You might also like the Wolf Dog, a behemoth smothered in chili with Monterey jack cheese, the Zombie Corn Dog, a foot long hot dog with special syrup, honey and whipped cream. Obscene, no? Newest item on the menu is the Medusa Burger, which challenges the gastro-intestinal tract with chili, sautéed onions, cheddar cheese and jalapeno poppers. This is for those who like it hot and aren’t afraid to admit it. Don’t miss Frank N Burger’s Hot Dog Challenge this summer. Frank N Burger is located at 739 Middle Country Rd, one block east of Lake Ave in St. James. Phone is 631-780-5693. It’s located across the street from Nathan’s Hot Dogs, but you’ll know you’re in the right place. This is the one with the lines. Other recent finds…. D’Angelo’s, 918 E. Jericho Tpke, Huntington Station 631-424-0653: Famous for its carousel styled façade and its trucks in Queens, D’Angelo’s is on the culinary map because of its sausage, onion and pepper heroes. They’re big taste and the grill sizzles with the peppers and onions as you wait. A Philly Cheese steak was decent, plenty of tasty rib eye steak but we wish the hero was larger. For $7.75 it should be. Hot dogs are jumbo Sabrett’s, which has earned D’Angelo’s accolades. A good place to stop and relax and very helpful staff. European Republic…New York Ave, Huntington Village. It’s been a while since we’ve been here. The Belgian style fries are still the big draw and they come with your choice of nearly 20 toppings. Parmesan is our favorite. You can have a combo for a measly $7.49 that includes a wrap and a big 16-ounce bottle of soda. The Republic is open late and is great for a quick pick up when you’re visiting Long Island’s Greenwich Village. There’s nearly two dozen items on the menu, and all are well worth the trip. But oh, those fries ... crispy and crunchy. Paradise by the dashboard light.

May 12, 2010
longislandsbest in New York State (exc. NYC)

Bob's Place Offers Exquisite Meals

The Bountiful Gourmet doesn’t use the word, “exquisite” lightly, but it is the first word that comes to mind when thinking of Bob’s Place in Floral Park.
Opened in 2007, continuing a family restaurant tradition that goes back 75 years, Bob’s Place is a Long Island beacon in the Contemporary New American cuisine category.
The place has been stylishly decorated, comfortable settings in rooms with very acceptable sound levels, excellent subdued, yet not dark lighting. A true top pick for a Valentine’s Day dinner.
Let us start from the beginning. French Onion Soup, made with sweet Vidalia onions, sherry and melted gruyere cheese is a sure winner at $7. Crispy Calamari lives up to its billing, perfect with its spicy mustard dipping sauce. Thai Duck Spring Roll with hoisin sauce is a mouth-watering dish, but the two knockouts are the Coconut and Macadamia Nut Crusted Shrimp (the grilled pineapple that came with it was bursting with juice and flavor) and the piece-de-resistance…Crabmeat Napoleon, made with blue fin crabmeat, avocado, sliced tomatoes, roasted peppers and toasted wontons. The blending of the ingredients is pure heaven.
It’s hard to leave the small plates category, an excellent meal tapas styles could be carved out of this section of the menu. But then, you would be missing out on some truly innovative cooking.
A brief tour…the grilled Marinated Skirt Steak was tender, the mashed potatoes, frizzled onions, vegetable medley and demi-glace was artfully prepared. A White Marble Farms Pork Chop with sweet potato pancake, Portobello crown and sesame orange ginger glaze was excellent, the pork chop very tender.
Our winner for the night however was the Roasted Garlic Crusted Lamb Rack. Just thinking about it and writing this has set the mouth watering. The spices, mixed with the perfectly cooked lamb earns Bob’s the “Exquisite” ranking.
For dessert, we strongly recommend the molten lava chocolate cake, rich and perfect, or the apple strudel with cinnamon ice cream and hot apple cider. What could be more fitting for a cold February night?
Service at Bob’s Place is as on target as is the food. The servers, waiters, maitre d’ all work as a team, never rushing you, but still on top of the flow of your meal.
Upfront is a very comfortable bar, it was packed the night we were there, and it was filled with locals and players who mixed amicably.
Watching Bob, the owner, work the table, you understood why everything works so well. He knows his customers, greets them, stops to exchange a story without ever intruding. The group of six women next to use were there for several hours on a busy Friday night, but they were never rushed, on the contrary, they were almost encouraged to linger.
Bob’s accomplice in crime is Gabriel, who is there to suggest and explain the menu and its ingredients. He skillfully suggests just the right combinations,
If you go to Bob’s Place, be sure to ask for a seat in the room with the fireplace, just the right place for a romantic evening in February.
Bob’s Place is perfect to experience Manhattan style in our own backyard. It is located at 230 Jericho Tpke, Floral Park.
As you can imagine, reservations are a must for the weekends and can be secured at 516-354-8185.

Mar 01, 2010
longislandsbest in New York State (exc. NYC)

Long Island BBQ Scene: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

We nearly drowned in a sea of barbecue the past few months, but this is what we must do to please you, our readers, so that you can make wise dining choices and avoid the hype and pitfalls of the bbq trail. Our “good,” as mentioned in our headline, was discovered only this week as we found ourselves judging a blues competition. It was held at Fatty Beltbuckles, 49 Route 25A, Rocky Point and was one fine barbecue joint.

I don’t usually order burgers at a barbecue place, it takes away from what we are really there for, but after looking with lust in my heart, at my neighbor’s burger platter, I succumbed. What a good move! My jumbo burger was bulging with bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion strings and a mountain of sweet potato fries on the side. The burger was dripping juice, it was absolutely mouth watering. At $9.99, it also was a steal. The fries were excellent.

This would have been the end of the story had Jim Sabella not decided to order a dinner for two for himself. Jim is a bit of an amateur when it comes to competitive eating, so I was more than happy to offer him assistance when he faltered. The St. Louis ribs were tender, the sauce was husky and rich, the senses were well juiced. A pile of brisket proved to be tender, crusty (the way we like it) and with enough fat that you savored every bite. Done to perfection! The sausage had to be a foot long and it was great. Too bad we couldn’t finish it. I lusted after it hours after I had arrived home.

Fatty Beltbuckles has done a great job putting together a strong menu and the service and food is excellent. Don’t miss Fatty’s fried pickle chips or the Burnt Ends as an appetizer. It will get the juices (yours) flowing. In addition to good food, the place has more than reasonable prices and the sides to be recommended are the sweet potato fries, the baked beans and the Cowboy Cole Slaw. Fatty’s can be reached at 631-403-4056.

Rib City
There must be an axis of barbecue developing, starting at Bobbique in Patchogue and stretching through Port Jefferson to Rocky Point. Our midway point is Rib City Ale House, located on Route 112 where the old Spare Rib used to be. Rib City has a great selection of sandwiches and ribs, with lunch deals going for as little as two for $10 and a dinner special of two for $20. Recommended is the Skyscraper Sandwich at $8.99, a pound of your choice of meat on garlic bread. We went with the pulled pork, a wise move and you have your choice of beans, sweet potato fries or cole slaw. The meat is tender, the sandwich is overflowing, ’nuff said.
Another smart move is the brisket, a generous portion of meat, cooked to perfection. When I go to a bbq joint, I usually go after the brisket and pork. Ribs are often an afterthought, but Rib City knows how to do ribs and has a host of options for you to check out.
Appetizers that I would recommend are the Skyscraper Onion Rings at $6.95 and the 3 cheese fries…waffle fries coated with Monterrey jack, pepper cheese and cheddar topped with bacon bits. I probably would pass on the pork sandwich, which is more like a ham sandwich than barbecue. Rib City is located at 650 Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station. They can be reached at 631-403-4323.

Backyard BBQ

Taking a giant step down we have Backyard Barbecue in Rockville Centre. I was sucked in because I had seen their ads in Newsday and was real hungry one night as I was driving through that part of town. A brisket burger seems like a good idea except when the brisket is dry as hell, the burger is half cooked and tastes like it was previously frozen, and you get hit for $11.95 for this mess. The brisket was not only dry, but very chewy. Checkers had a better version of this at a much better price. Cole slaw with carrots was vinegary, the corn bread was firm and the best part of the meal. The fries were thin and crispy. Beans with burnt ends were very poor, watery and had almost no meat in them. You would die before you could get your water refilled, one waitress was working all the tables. Backyard Barbecue is located at 12 S. Park Ave, Rockville Centre. I refuse to give you the phone number because I don’t want to lose you as readers.

Bagels & BBQ

What could I have been thinking of when I went into Bagels & BBQ in Garden City Park? Self-flagellation perhaps. Sure I was hungry, spotted the sign and hooked a U across Jericho Turnpike. And I admit, I liked the idea of discovering a place that I could pass along to you, my loyal readers. Why would I think bagels and bbq would work? I ordered the special, a platter of brisket with fries, and ????? That’s what I said. No bread to go along with the meal, the miniscule slab of corn bread had been forgotten, the fires were institutional frozen fries that were delivered white with the meal.
Perhaps someone had forgotten to impart the wisdom of the pit to the pitmeister. The brisket was hot as could be, perhaps it was the residue of chili powder or some other red material that had been flayed across the top without any consideration of how it would taste. Bagels & BBQ is located at 2413 Jericho Turnpike, Garden City Park. Their number is 516-746-6262, and I’m only allowing you this because the breakfast sandwiches looked very good.
Long Island is about to drown in a tidal wave of barbecue sauce. Barbecue joints are springing up from one end of the Island to the other, satisfying the public’s growing lust for all things southern. After being told that what we called barbeque all these years is really grilling, sit back and get ready for a trip to Texas, Memphis, and Carolina via the LIE

Smokin' Al's

Over the years, Long Island has been a vast wasteland when it came to real barbecue. Ten years ago, Tony Roma's and Bobby Rubino's tried to ride the rib craze, only to be closed down by public apathy. Now, two strong contenders have turned the barbecue landscape upside down. Smokin Al's, located at 19 W Main St in Bay Shore, is the new gold standard that all other barbecue joints have to be measured against. Al' s is an attractive place, with exposed brick walls and great paintings of pigs doing unpiggy things like torch-singing and dancing. St. Louis ribs are good, the baby backs are better. A half-pound hamburger was juicy and delicious, the fries are home-made and outstanding. Cole slaw is fair. Pork is the way to go at Smokin' Al's, the pork sandwich is excellent, but The Works is in a league all its own. It's a gargantuan hoagy roll covered with pulled pork, sausage and brisket. Succulent, tender and mouth-watering. Onion rings and French fries cover the sandwich. Eating it as a sandwich is near impossible, knife and fork are required.

Check out some more of the menu at www.SmokinAls.com.

The meal known as "The Works" is still our favorite. It’s a Po-Boy hero stuffed with chopped brisket, pulled pork, smoked chicken, and smoked sausage. It’s topped with delicious fried onions and melted cheese on top, accompanied by French fries that are golden. This is a monster sandwich and a super bargain.

Other standouts are the Carolina Pulled Pork sandwich, slow cooked and delicious. The Texas sliced brisket is a work of art. Add to all the great food outstanding sauces and colorful pig murals and you have our top choice for barbecue on Long Island.

Eldorado Southern Barbecue

While barbecue aficionados are sucking it in at Smokin Al’s on the South Shore, Eldorado Southern BBQ has accepted the gauntlet with its location in Port Jefferson Station on Route 347. Eldorado is a big place, and the menu has great items. Chicken fingers were declared to be “from heaven” by our official chicken finger man, Richard. But let’s not beat around the bush, we’re here for barbecue, aren’t we? A great time to go is between 3-6 pm, Monday to Friday, that’s when the appetizers are 1/2 price as are the gargantuan margaritas. Chipotle chicken wings are a great selection, and the Texas onion loaf is a work of art. A platter of riblets is over one pound of tender meat. Highly recommended is the "Pig Out", over 1 pound of Memphis pulled pork, Texas brisket, and bbq chicken breast. It comes with great French fried potatoes, excellent cole slaw and wispy onion straws. At $13.95 it’ s a best bet. Jim, the owner, has owned other restaurants on the Island but his love for this place is obvious. The second location in Port Jeff can hold nearly 200 diners. It is decorated like a Texas Roadhouse and the music is true Texas. This place is great and it’s hard to decide which I like better, this or Smokin’ Al’s, so I try to go to both and give each equal time.

Bobbique (70 West Main Street, Patchogue (631) 447-7744) is serving up some fine fixings. Their two meat combo for $14.95 is a good bet. The pulled pork was tender as hell and the beef brisket melted in your mouth. It comes with two sides, although we were surprised to find that French Fries ($1 extra) was not a choice. BBQ Brisket sandwich at $8.95 is a thriller. Corn bread portions were miniscule; we barely got a taste. Bobbique also has a very impressive beer selection, and it has live blues and music four nights a week. Overall, this is a super-comfortable place with great food.

Harbor Q ( 84 Old Shore Rd., Pt. Washington, 516-883-4BBQ) is the closest we’ve come to Texas style barbecue outside of Lockhart, Texas. Harbor Q is easy to miss, the building dwarfed by the car wash next door, but it’s worth the ride to Port Washington’s coastal area. Barbecue-pit master Keith Dorman traveled the country, checking out the different barbecue capitols of the country, learning what stands out, and brought it all back to his new restaurant. Dorman slow cooks his brisket and meats for 22 hours over hickory. It shows in the results. Carolina style pulled pork is the best of the trough, tender, smokey and delicious.You can order it for lunch on a ciabatta roll (which unfortunately takes away from the meat) or as an appetizer, 3 pork sliders for $6.99. Skip the skimpy portion of Smoked Beef Sausage with crackers and cheese from Kreuz’s Market in Lockhart. Inside, go for some nouveau barbeque (coined by Jim Sabella of Sabella Studios) with the Buffalo Soldiers, a crisp egg roll filled with intense buffalo chicken and Gorgonzola cheese in a sweet dip. It works! Buffalo or Texas Wings, 12 for $7.99 are a must taste. Entrees are a super bargain at $16.99 for two meats and two sides. Pass on the BBQ Beef Rib and head right to the Memphis Style Baby Back Ribs, wet or dry. Dry is especially tasty and almost has us converted. The BBQ grilled chicken is great. The brisket was the highlight of our visit on three out of four visits, a bit dry the last time out. Otherwise, they have an intense smoky flavor and you’d think you were in Austin. Ends are coated and ask for slices that have some fat (you’re not on a diet if you’re here).Great sides include the sweet potato fries or regular, and the baked beans, which has chunks of brisket in them is outstanding. Harbor Q is located across from Manhasset Harbor. Décor of the restaurant is casual, but we would can the pictures of boating scenes and put in some authentic advertising signs, no repros please. Harbor Q has a party special that can’t be beat…1 slab of baby back ribs, 12 Texas Wings, 12 Buffalo Wings, 4 mini pulled pork sandwiches, 4 sides…all for $47.99 and it feeds 4-5. Enough said … hitch up the buckboard and head over to Harbor Q for some of the best barbecue you’ll have outside of the South.

At Hickory’s (674 Port Washington Boulevard, Port Washington (516) 883-7174), Eddie constantly delivers top-notch barbeque in this small, mainly take-out place with a few tables in the back. Prices are exceptional. A full rack of baby back ribs is only $11.45, and the Beef Brisket Sandwich at $4.95 is a winner, as is the pulled pork sandwich. Fries are only $1.85 extra. The marinated sliced steak is great.

Tennessee Jack’s (148 Carleton Avenue, East Islip, (631) 581-9657): We came, we saw, we ate…Nothing special, dry meat. The meal came slathered in sauce. We asked the waiter if they had other sauces, he said yes but they don’t put them out, people steal the bottles. Enough said.

Famous Dave’s (720 Route 347, Smithtown (631) 360-6490 and 1600 Corporate Drive, Westbury, (516) 832-7300): For a national chain operation, not bad at all. More than reasonable prices, Texas Beef Brisket sandwich for $7.99, with a side of beans, fries, coleslaw, more. Excellent two-meat combo for $13.29 that includes brisket, chopped pork, BBQ or roasted chicken, rib tips or sausage links. Extra meat is only $2.99. Real down home roadhouse atmosphere. A winner on all fronts.

Smokey Bones(5012 Expressway Drive South, Bohemia (631) 580-2675) is the other side of the chain coin. A 45-minute wait to be seated after two attempts to get in, a 45-minute wait for food to arrive (this was during lunch time). A burger ordered medium came well done. Onion rings were very good. Pulled pork was tender but nothing special. Mustard is yellow, which doesn’t go with the meats served. Colorado ski lodge style décor. Beef brisket was dry. Pass on this one. Go for the real thing.

Smoking Sloe’s (847 Fort Salonga Road, Northport (631) 651-8812): I drove 22 miles to eat at this place at the recommendation of Jim Sabella of Sabella Studios, who has become a bit of a barbeque addict. Never got to try the food though. Their menu is somewhat limited and I wanted to try a two-meat combo. They only offer chicken and ribs for $17.99. Since I don’t consider chicken barbeque, I wanted to try two meats like brisket and pulled pork. The owner refused, simply stating they’re not set up to do this. I was astounded. I just told this guy I drove 22 miles to eat at his restaurant and no go on putting two meats on a plate? I don’t usually tell restaurants I’m doing a review, but figured this might help him be reasonable. No way. He simply stated once again they weren’t set up to do that. I couldn’t understand this. I offered to pay whatever he wanted for the two meats, all he had to do was take a plate, put the brisket and pork on it, and voila, we have a combo platter. The girl at the counter even said people have been asking for combos.This is one place that doesn’t understand it's in the hospitality business.

Bad Bob’s BBQ (3112-3114 Lawson Boulevard, Oceanside) is not open yet, but this is a place to watch. Windows are filled with trophies and awards from national BBQ competitions, including Memphis. Menu looks great with combos, or meats by the pound or rack. A pound of pulled pork is only $10.95. Super friendly owner who took the time out to chat, even though he was trying to get the place fixed up for their opening in three weeks; more on this place in another issue.

So that’s it, fellow porkers … get your motors running and step up to the trough

Dec 16, 2009
longislandsbest in General Tristate Archive

Italian finds in Long Island

To many, the thought of going to Olive Garden for Italian food seems senseless when you consider the number of outstanding Italian restaurants we have on Long Island. Three recent visits made us a convert…there is a time and place for the Olive Garden, and one of the times is when they have their “Never Ending Pasta Bowl.” The concept is simple, you can try as many different pastas as you want mixed with 6 different sauces. Lot’s of combinations to consider. Smart diners know that you shouldn’t load up on the unlimited salad bowl and bread but its hard to turn away from these tasty treats. For our last visit, we brought with us 8 healthy, hungry members of the Roslyn Marching Band. They were eager and boastful, in the end, they couldn’t continue beyond the third pasta bowl. To us pasta is pasta, regardless of the shape, but we do lean towards the penne, fettuccine and orecchiette because they have more bulk. The key really is the sauce, and these were standouts. A Creamy Parmesan Florentine with the penne was the top of the pops, and the richness of the creamy sauce was irresistible. Second on our hits lists was the Roasted Portobello Pomodoro, a lush marinara sauce. Five Cheese Marinara was another home run. Olive Garden also gives you the opportunity to add some meat to the heat . You can get unlimited Italian sausages or meatballs for only $1.95 extra. The sausage is big and thick, very tasty. The meatballs are a major flop. They look gray, begging the question, “Are they made from meat?” They’re very smooth, taste like store bought canned meatballs and 6 of our 8 band members either didn’t finish theirs or didn’t re-order. They all had the same comment, “Doesn’t taste like meat.” Desserts are a good bet, especially the Zeppoli or the Black Tie Mousse Cake. Olive Garden is a very pleasant place, well designed and comfortable. The staff is very efficient and sometimes over the top in their enthusiasm.

Spasso Pizza in Westbury is a true treasure. In an Island awash in red sauce, sometimes, great comfort food is found in an unlikely place.
Spasso looks like a thousand other pizzerias on Long Island, tucked in the corner of a non-descript strip shopping center. That’s where the similarity comes to an end.
Spasso has more than 30 pasta dishes, each a delicious take on classic Italian cooking. Our favorite is the Rigatoni Carbonara, a lush pasta in a white cream sauce with onions, cheese, and bacon. Big chunks of bacon, no skimping here. The sauce is rich, thick, and delicious. And they don’t go overboard with the onions like many places.
You could probably throw a dart at the menu and you still would come up with a good meal. Fettuccine Alfredo is top notch, the Rigatoni Bolognese makes the taste buds dance, and the Penne Antonio is a great mix of broccoli, zucchini, sun dried tomatoes, olives and mushrooms sautéed with garlic, virgin olive oil and artichokes. A health addicts delight…oh yeah, right.
Every Monday is pasta day, and take out orders are only $8.95 and come with salad, bread, garlic knots (excellent) and your choice of rice pudding or chocolate pudding (Take the rice, it’s dense).
Some standouts from the menu include Veal Cutlet Parmigiana, tender and tasty, Shrimp Fra Diavolo and Lasagna de Casa.
Thursday is Chicken Day and that’s when Spasso pulls out all stops. Chicken Parmigiana is enough to feed a small regiment, and the Chicken Alla Bella Malina is a knockout. This is chicken sautéed with mushrooms, and spinach, covered with Mozzarella cheese. They have a dozen different selections, and all can be had for only $10.95 for takeout and comes with the same extras as on Pasta Monday.
O.K. We’ve overloaded on carbs, that’s for sure, but how does Spasso do on the pizza test? A big fat A, that’s how. They have nearly two dozen selections. How about a little lasagna pizza to get started? Or maybe you’re in the mood for something light; the Hawaiian Pie with Pineapple and Ham is a winner. Wish you were in Philadelphia? Then the Philly Cheese Steak Pizza is for you. Delicious. And, my personal favorite, and the reason I haven’t tried most of the other pies, is the Buffalo Wing Pizza, a jumbo slice with fried chicken pieces (very tender), on top of blue cheese dressing and mozzarella cheese. You can also have spicy by request. This will set you back a meager $3.95 and easily is big enough for two.
The owners and staff at Spasso are very cordial, and will go out of their way to make your order special to your liking. Garlic bread and knots are both the real deal. Appetizer portions are large and you’re warned you may not have room for the rest of the meal if you indulge too soon.
My suggestion is order a few different things and be prepared to bring them home and feast for days to come.
Spasso is celebrating their 50th year so they must be doing something right!

Dec 16, 2009
longislandsbest in New York State (exc. NYC)