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Go Here, Eat This

These are some of my favorite (culinary) things

In my food writing travels, I am always discovering delicious food. Here are some favorites.

Kyma Chips at Kyma in Roslyn

A good way to start a meal at this Greek restaurant is with Kyma chips — a stack of fried slices of eggplant and zucchini. The restaurant employs two people dedicated only to making this time- and labor-intensive appetizer. Owner Reno Christou describes how it’s made: eggplant and zucchini are sliced thin by hand. The pieces are dipped in room temperature water and then all-purpose flour and then water once again to seal in the flour, all the while making sure they are not stuck together. The zucchini and eggplant are crisped to perfection very hot canola oil and placed in a draining pan lined with kitchen sheets to drain any excess oil. The chips are seasoned with sea salt, white pepper and Greek oregano and carefully stacked into a tower. They are served with Tzatziki sauce and cubes of fried Vlahotiri sheep’s milk cheese. Each order takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes to prepare from frying to plate and they can fry only three orders at once.

Eggplant Parmesan at Gino’s in Manhasset

This is my idea of perfect eggplant Parmesan. The eggplant is thinly sliced and sautéed and then made into a compact mound with just the right balance of tomato sauce and mozzarella. It comes with bread and spaghetti or salad.

Chicken Campagnola at Steve’s Piccolo Bussola in Westbury

When my family gets together and no one feels like cooking, we order in from Steve’s Piccola Bussola. We all have our favorites but chicken campagnola is a must order. Chicken campagnola is pieces of chicken (we get it with bone-in), sautéed with wine, garlic and lemon, and pumped up with lots of sausage, peppers, mushrooms, potatoes and onions. With it we have the house salad of arugula, iceberg lettuce, radicchio and endive, combined with roasted peppers and sliced onions in a dressing that uses balsamic and red vinegar. The vinegary salad nicely tames the richness of the chicken dish.

Chicken Pot Pie at The Library in Farmingdale

When I spotted a chicken pot pie being carried to another table, I knew I had to try it. I got my own and it was perfect: a flaky layer of rich home made puff pastry atop the filling of generous chunks of white meat chicken, peas and carrots and just enough sauce to hold it together, but not drown it.

Veal Tonnato at La Piccolo Liguria in Port Washington

Veal tonnato, an interesting dish that is popular in the Liguria region of Italy, is chilled veal in a tuna sauce. A layer of thin slices of fork-tender roasted veal is laid out on a platter and covered with the rich sauce made up of tuna, eggs, wine, capers and other ingredients. At La Piccolo Liguria the dish is garnished with cornichons, tomatoes and a hard-boiled quail’s egg. I found that the tonnato was great on the garlic toast in the breadbasket.

Salsa Verde at Piccolo’s Ristorante Italiano in Mineola

At Piccolo they make this salsa fresh every day. This is a classic strong-flavored cold sauce that enhances whatever dish it is used with. Piccolo’s salsa verde combines Italian parsley, capers, salt, garlic, olive oil, French Dijon mustard, English mustard powder, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar and bread crumbs. It arrives at the table to slather on the bread and focaccia. It can also be ordered in a tasty string bean salad. Salsa verde in a jar is available for sale.

Grits at LL Dent in Carle Place

Even thought I didn’t grow up eating grits, it has become one of my comfort foods and on dreary days this winter, I would drop in at LL Dent to enjoy a bowl of this creamy cereal. Traditionally grits were made with hominy, a coarsely ground white corn, that takes at least 20 minutes to cook, thus the memorable scene in My Cousin Vinny where a prosecution witness’ statement is ripped to shreds by Joe Pesci’s knowledge of how long it takes to make grits.

But you don’t have to use hominy to make great grits, says Leisa Dent, the chef/co-owner of LL Dent whose family hails from Georgia. At LL Dent, the chef uses hominy that has been ground to a finer consistency, enabling her to cook it faster than the coarser hominy. My decision is whether to have them plain or with cheese. Whatever you choose, follow two of the cardinal rules of grits: eat them with a spoon and never add sugar — this is a savory dish.

Bon Chon Chicken at Koreana in Hicksville

Koreana restaurant specializes in BBQ and is an outlet for a popular fried chicken chain in Korea (and the Philippines) called Bon Chon. After being double fried, the hot chicken is lightly tossed in a sweet, spicy, garlicky glaze, caramelizing the sauce on the surface of the chicken. This crisp deliciousness is served with pickled Korean radish.

Panama Geisha Ninety Plus Coffee at

Georgio’s Coffee Roasters in Farmingdale

Panama Geisha Ninety Plus is available in only six places in the United States and Georgio’s Coffee Roasters is one of them. Coffee is rated like wine and any score over 90 is fantastic. Georgio Testani calls this coffee “liquid Ferrari.” Georgio and Lydia have been roasting and sourcing the world’s rarest coffees for twenty years and have visited farms in six coffee producing countries. They know great coffee.