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The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene

Amerrickana Tapas & Bar opens in Merrick

At Amerrickana Tapas & Bar in Merrick, sliders

(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)

It’s Long Island's second small-plates-restaurant opening of the week. Amerrickana Tapas & Bar has taken over the Merrick storefront that used to be Surf ‘n Turf Mediterranean Grill. With its neon-accented bar and bright-white wooden accents, the week-old restaurant has a much more feminine feel than Surf ‘n Turf.

Tapas is defined loosely here; Spanish is one of very few cuisines not referenced...

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Cuban sandwich diplomacy

A Cuban sandwich served at the reborn Cafe

(Credit: Newsday / Ana P. Gutierrez)

On Wednesday, the Obama administration announced its intention to pursue full diplomatic relations with Cuba. Long Island restaurants are way ahead on that score; you don’t even need a visa to enjoy a good Cuban meal and a mojito in Nassau or Suffolk:

Corazon de Cuba is at 26 E. Park Ave., Long Beach, 516-272-4200, corazondecuba.com

Havana Central is at Roosevelt Field, 630 Old Country...

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Chow Down Diner in Bethpage falls flat

The cheeseburger deluxe at Chow Down Diner in

(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)

Since it opened in February, Chow Down Diner has been going steadily downhill.

In her initial review, Newsday’s Joan Reminick praised “its sleek decor and contemporary-retro vibe” but noted that its “real attraction” was “the cuisine of chef Steven Del Lima. Instead of offering the typical encyclopedic diner menu, Del Lima presents a well-edited repertoire of cleverly tweaked American classics.”


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Happy Hanukkah; fry latkes Tuesday night


(Credit: iStock)

At sundown Dec. 16 this year, Jews usher in the Festival of Lights. But Hanukkah could just as easily be called the Festival of Olive Oil.

The holiday commemorates the 2nd century BCE uprising of the rebellious Jewish Maccabees against King Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The victorious Maccabees returned to the Temple in Jerusalem to find it desecrated. The king’s troops had defiled all but...

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LI farmers markets move indoors

The offerings at the winter farmers market at

(Credit: Barbara Alper)

Most of Long Island's farmers markets take their final bow at Thanksgiving, but a few intrepid souls have organized winter markets where folks can continue to shop until the crocuses come up. The produce offerings are slim, of course, but onions, cauliflower, local hothouse salad greens and potatoes are nothing to sneeze at. And all the markets round out their merchandise with baked goods, jams,...

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Viaggio Tapas opens in Rockville Centre

Viaggio Tapas is a new small-plates restaurant in

(Credit: Viaggio Tapas)

Here's a late-breaking entry to 2014's crop of small-plates restaurants: Viaggio Tapas is open for dinner in Rockville Centre.

The restaurant is a collaboration between Ronny Jaramillo, a former general manager at Besito, and RoseAnn Vercillo. They have transformed the space that used to house The Manhattan Bar & Lounge. Now it's all rustic wood, subway tiles and copper pots — plus hooks...

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The Refuge in Melville: First bites

The Refuge takes over the Melville space that

(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)

When Four Food Studio opened in 2005, it immediately changed dining out along Route 110, for decades the Death Valley of restaurants.

Now, its successor, The Refuge Food & Spirit, may do the same.

Almost no trace of Four remains. This has been a truly extreme makeover, turning the modern-to-futurisic dining areas into the equivalent of a Latin American-Italian movie set for a spaghetti...

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Cooking classes at MarGene Farms, Mattituck

MarGene Farms is a certified organic farm in

(Credit: Ian J. Stark)

MarGene Farms, one of Long Island’s only certified organic farms, is holding a pair of Tuesday-night cooking classes with local chefs.

The lineup:

Dec. 16: Steven Amaral, owner-chocolatier at North Fork Chocolates and former owner of Amarelle in Wading River

Jan. 20: Taylor Knapp, chef at First & South in Greenport

The chefs’ menus will be focused on seasonal produce...

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Cheesecake Factory opens in Bay Shore

The Cheesecake Factory chain has opened a restaurant

(Credit: The Cheesecake Factory)

The Cheesecake Factory has opened its fourth Long Island location at Westfield South Shore Mall in Bay Shore. (The other three are at Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington, The Mall at The Source in Westbury and Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove.)

The national chain is known not only for its eponymous cheesecakes, but for an eclectic, crowd-pleasing menu of generally high-caliber dishes that include...

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Tony Roma's to open in Commack

Tony's Roma's in Commack opens Dec. 11.

(Credit: Tony Roma's)

Tony Roma's is giving Long Island a ribbing.

The casual-dining chain opens a branch in Commack on Dec. 11. There are other Tony Roma's restaurants in Bayside and in Brooklyn. The Commack establishment is at 2 Henry St., in the Cosentino Commerce Center. More than two decades ago, there was a Tony Roma's in Syosset.

Specialties at Tony Roma's include baby back ribs, St. Louis ribs, beef...

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