Peppercorn Cafe is nothing if not cozy. At a wrap-around bar made of unpolished granite and waxed cherry wood, bartenders pour draft beer or cocktails as guests converse and watch football. Just around the corner from the lounge, diners gather around tables draped in white linen that brightens under torrents of natural light by day and softens under the wall sconces by night.
The homey family restaurant is the joint venture of two Long Islanders, and the menu reflects it. Executive Chef Dave Moritz sticks to the founders' North Atlantic roots with a menu filled with unconventional takes on New York seafood favorites. Pot pies, for example, come stuffed with lobster, and the crab cakes are served on cranberry scallion couscous—a break from the traditional method of serving them inside a grizzled sea captain's pipe. Little Neck clams mingle with chorizo on the appetizer menu, creating a segue into the turf portion of the menu, which includes braised beef short ribs and New York strip steak with crumbled gorgonzola.
Karl Ehmer in Patchogue has proffered fine American and traditional European meats for more than 40 years, and current owner Steven Fahner draws on his southern German roots and a lineage of butchering expertise dating back more than five generations. Starving carnivores can curb recurring dreams about running through fields of deli meat with a variety of made-to-order sandwiches ($4.50–$5.50), enjoying fresh-cut turkey, smoked ham, pastrami, or liverwurst piled between two pieces of rye or shoveled in by the fistful. An array of authentic german sausages ($7.99/lb.) such as bratwurst, knockwurst, and weisswurst rest alongside USDA Prime steaks such as filet mignon ($21.99/lb.), porterhouse (12.99/lb.), or rib eye ($12.99/lb.) and Karl Ehmer's famous smoked hams ($5.99/lb. bone-in; $9.99/lb. boneless). The shop's sauerbraten special packs in 3.5 pounds of sauerbraten with marinade, a dozen ready-to-cook dumplings, a 24-ounce jar of red cabbage, instructions for cooking, and proper etiquette for licking one’s chops ($39.99).
As a man who grew up on the river, the grandson of a boat builder, Dick Blakeslee knows all about the sea and its creatures. Blakeslee even owned a former ship store on the river, the Sun DEK Marina, but his dream was always to own a restaurant, so he turned that store into a snack bar, and from there, it continued to grow. Now it's a full-service gourmet steak and seafood restaurant with a full raw bar overflowing with clams, oysters, and shrimp and seafood entrees including broiled salmon and fish tacos.
Situated right on the water, The Oar offers views of boats bobbing, whether you’re seated on the outdoor patio or in the nautical-themed dining room. Its wood paneling, sailboat art, and crisp white linens evoke the decor of a luxury yacht. Even during the wintertime, the riverside eatery brings cheer with views of the annual Christmas boat parade—a heartwarming display of twinkling lights and Santa riding up and down the river at the top of a water-ski pyramid. The tradition, which brings thousands to the river every year, was actually something dreamt up at The Oar 10 years ago.
There's always something going on at Village Idiot Pub, where drink specials abound and live music takes the stage each weekend. A menu of pub grub tempts diners with starters such as lobster wontons and mac 'n' cheese wedges, along with beefy burgers topped with bacon and jalapeños. For finger-licking eats, the pub also prepares chicken wings in 11 sauces, from trademark buffalo to the super-spicy atomic.
Avocados Restaurant is known for its generous portions. Each heaping burrito is piled high with rice, beans, cheese, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole, as well as a choice of filling such as roasted pork or grilled shrimp. Diners can also opt for fajitas, quesadillas, tacos, and wraps.
Castello di Borghese Vineyard & Winery cultivates its grapes in Long Island soil, but its culture can be traced back to ancient Italy. In addition to Italian-inspired and wine-centric events, owners Marco and Ann Marie Borghese use old-fashioned growing and fermentation techniques to create their red and white wines. A fruity pinot noir and crisp sauvignon blanc are among their most popular varietals, but they also produce cabernet franc, meritage, and chardonnay. These wines—and the care that goes into them—have earned praise and awards from the New York Wine & Food Classic and the New York Times.