Quaint boutiques and white clapboard municipal buildings line the streets of Stony Brook, which resides about 50 miles east of Manhattan on the leafy north shore of Long Island. Though the town has a rich colonial past, it went underwent a transformation in 1939 led by Ward Melville, the proprietor of Three Village Inn. This renaissance produced Stony Brook University, one of the top research universities in the country.The town transformation also helped produce the nation's first planned shopping center, known as Harbor Crescent. Located just across from the inn, the colonial-style shopping promenade is grouped around a Federalist-style post office adorned with a mechanical eagle that has flapped its wings every hour on the hour since 1941.The Ward Melville Heritage Organization oversees the Stony Brook Grist Mill, which was built in 1751 and gives a glimpse into the town's history. In addition, the organization helps put on wetland pontoon cruises and can help visitors replace their car tires with wheels from covered wagons.
At The Curry Club—voted Long Island Press' Best Indian Restaurant of 2010—a Zagat-rated menu boasts dishes prepared by restaurateurs with culinary experience in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres. A handful of tikka masalas are studded with shrimp, salmon, chicken, or tofu, and kebabs are served on platters that sizzle and steam like volcanic Pop Rocks. More than 40 curries fall into six categories, from the West Indian–inspired vindaloo, to the richer, creamy consistency of Korma-style concoctions.
American Roadside CEO Rich LaVecchia is the happiest when he's biting into a Roadside burger––mainly because his children, at ages 8 and 13, helped perfect the recipe. Each tender patty is constructed of Sterling Silver premium grain-fed beef, aged for a minimum of 21 days to maximize tenderness. But the eco-conscious burgers are only the beginning of Roadside's green pledge. To complement exposed brick and nostalgic advertising signs, Roadside outfits each restaurant with sustainable bamboo floors, recycled countertops and chairs, and picnic tables whittled from the driftwood of naturally floating picnic tables. The walls are also decorated with reclaimed barn siding and the names of diners who have successfully completed the eatery's famous quadruple Roadstar cheeseburger challenge.
Below hanging lights like scoops of vanilla ice cream, diners slurp up creamy milk shakes, such as Oreo and cremesicle, and two-hand signature burgers with slaw or chili, and a portion of those profits are donated to charities, such as the American Red Cross. After finishing off a hot Philly cheese steak, patrons can add a boost to their evening with a glass of wine or beer, or add a boost to everyone's evening by drinking the biodiesel fuel crafted from Roadside's recycled fry oil.
Rolling Pin Bake Shop houses a veritable cornucopia of tarts, cookies, pastries, and other handmade goods. The bakery––highlighted by the Food Network's Rachael Ray and E!'s Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?–– is manned by David Dombroff, a 15-year veteran with a degree in sweet, sweet satisfaction from the Culinary Institute of America. Stop by the cozy bakery and scarf down some scones (three for $1) while chatting with the attentive shop keep. If you don't want to gobble your goods in house, you can always order an eye-catching occasion cake ($18+) for real-world consumption. Born from the hands of caring chefs, these creations are laden with moist sponge cake and loaded with fresh fruit and other palate-tickling treats.
Like any dutiful American diner, Setauket Village Diner serves burgers and fries, coffee, and omelets as part of its vast nine-page menu, which could please every diner. But like any history book about empires, it also adds Greek and Italian to the mix. Steak gyros and kebabs that skewer chicken or salmon represent the former, whereas pasta such as linguine marinara and and shrimp scampi topped with feta and mozzarella are highlights of the latter.
Servers at The New York Stuffed Cone Company scoop ice cream crafted from natural ingredients, alternating creamy layers with crushed candy, fruit, and other toppings. The resulting creation, a stuffed cone or sundae, might require a spoon to do the heavy lifting needed to eat brownie bits and bananas mixed with flavors such as english butter toffee, chocolate-raspberry truffle, and coconut avocado. Sweet-seekers can opt for a belgian waffle stuffed with caramelized bacon or cupcakes baked fresh onsite. With free WiFi, they can wile away their stay by browsing the Net and sipping italian espresso and cappuccinos.
Sushi Ichi Japanese Restaurant's seasoned chefs recruit fresh fish and sticky morsels of rice to build a menu stacked with more than 50 types of maki rolls. The culinary team fills seaweed-wrapped cylinders with predetermined combinations of snow crab, tuna, and salmon, as well as custom-builds sushi rolls to incorporate diners' favorite ingredients. Thai and Chinese dishes also abound and include classics such as spicy kung pao chicken, shrimp pad thai, and green and red curries flanked by rich coconut rice.