Live music and a duo of fireplaces create a cozy ambience inside Restaurant 552, an eatery named for its address on North Country Road in St. James. Chef prepares small-plate tapas such as the PEI mussels steamed in lobster broth and salmon tartare served on crisp wontons with spicy mayo, more substantial entrees such as New York Strip Steak or Linguini Pescatore, along with sliders that a New York Times reviewer praised as "the best sliders I?ve ever had, made with Angus beef, cooked precisely to order (medium-rare) and running with juices." That same review described the desserts such as the cr?me br?l?e, as "perfect: thick, cold and satiny." Restaurant 552 was also voted one of the best restaurants of 2013 by Newsday.
Kitchen A Bistro's chef changes the restaurant’s menu––which features regional Mediterranean flavors grounded by classical French techniques––on a daily basis. This ever-rotating selection of rustic-yet-refined food—which Zagat rated in its "extraordinary to perfection" range—is created with fresh, organic ingredients. Tender braised duck can sit atop a bed of hand-cut pasta, savory pork is occasionally accented with polenta and roasted fennel, and clams simmer in a saffron-tinged chowder. With its dark wooden tables, cream-colored walls, and windows covered by burgundy drapes, Kitchen A Bistro's dining room almost resembles an elegant family home instead of a restaurant. Sconces cast a soft glow throughout the earth-toned space, illuminating the walls' collection of framed pictures and bronzed spelling tests.
Spezia comforts diners with hearty Italian entrees such as the "homey, meaty lasagna," according to an article in Newsday or "a classic done right" in their linguine in clam sauce from The New York Times review. Whether ordering ? la carte or from the prix-fixe menu, housemade pastas and sauces, and veal, chicken, and seafood entrees are all so comforting that customers take their leftovers home to stuff into their pillows.
The d?cor at Nisen 347 views Japanese traditions with an eye on the future. Conceptualized by Horst Design International, the dining room basks in the modern glow of soft purple lighting, while a towering bamboo column in the center symbolizes the sushi restaurant's foundations in Asian culture. To that effect, Asia-inspired murals decorate the booths, which are recessed into the wall to keep conversations intimate and keep neighbors from snatching rolls with their chopsticks.
Behind the counter, Nisen's chefs also update classic sushi dishes with a modern mindset. The Happy Lobster roll sits in a boat-like leaf propped up on a lobster tail and asparagus spears, while the omakase platters highlight sashimi slices with accents of fruit, flowers, bamboo, and sometimes even LED lighting. Cocktails are equally intriguing, with specialty drinks such as a fig martini with wild-tea vodka and lychee juice.