Mannino’s is Great for Dates

After a long week, TK and I made plans with our friends to go out for a double date to Mannino’s in Oakdale, New York. It was a Saturday night, so when we arrived there was a one hour wait to be seated as a party of four, but fortunately, I was able to find a seat at the bar and enjoy a glass of Riesling beforehand. It was cool and refreshing, and I could feel myself relaxing more and more with every sip. Thank goodness.

White Clam Combo

       White Clam Combo

The food at Mannino’s is reasonably priced and very good. There is a great variety of dishes to enjoy, including the seafood and pasta dishes which are quite delicious.

We started our meal with the Rice Balls and the Clams Oreganata. The Rice Balls were small but crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside; exactly how they should be. The Clams were smaller than I like, but they had a great taste to them. I preferred the Rice Balls to the Clams Oreganata.

I guess I didn’t get enough clams because for my entree, I ordered the White Clam Combo. It had linguine, an assortment of different-sized clams, bay scallops and shrimp submerged in garlic, wine and oil. I made sure to empty all of the shells first to get them out of the way. This dish was very enjoyable and I finished the whole thing, even though it probably could have used a touch of salt.

TK enjoyed the Frutti Di Mare. It was chock full of seafood with shrimp, crab meat, clams, mussels and scallops. I made sure to take a snapshot of it before he started eating and he was super annoyed with me. That didn’t last and neither did his entree.

Frutti Di Mare

    Frutti Di Mare

After this delicious meal, we decided to make it a habit to go out on dates and to go to Mannino’s.

Mannino’s, 1575 Montauk Highway, Oakdale, NY, 631.218.0909

Shake Shack is no joke

IMG_5203Since the first Shake Shack opened up in Madison Square Park in Manhattan, New Yorkers were hooked. I’ve never been to that location, but I have eaten at Shake Shack in Citi Field and now in Westbury, New York. Among the many locations that the Shake Shack has, you can pick up some delicious grease at the Grand Central Terminal and the JFK Airport, if you want to make your fellow flyers jealous. The original location in NYC always has a line. That’s how good the burgers are! There is even a Shake Cam streaming video of the line on their website so that people in NYC can keep an eye on it and judge what the best time is to head down to Madison Square Park for a trademarked ShackBurger®.

My most recent visit to hamburger heaven, was to their Westbury location. On a Friday afternoon, the line wasn’t too bad when we hopped on. I ordered a ShackBurger® and TK had a SmokeShack®. My burger included cIMG_5205heese, lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce. I dipped the burger in ketchup as well. It was magical. The burger was juicy, pure and delicious; exactly how a cheeseburger should be. I tasted TK’s burger and that was so good, but with an added kick. His had cheese, applewood-smoked bacon, chopped cherry peppers (the heat culprits) and ShackSauce. His burger was a bit messier than mine, but it had a bunch of delicious flavors. It had the saltiness of the bacon, the heat from the peppers, the zestiness of the ShackSauce and the pure meat flavor of the beef. I thought he made a great choice.

We also shared a side of their Crinkle Cut Fries and they were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Crinkle Cut is my favorite fry variety, with waffle as a close second. TK also ordered a Peanut Butter Shake and I ordered a Lemonade. The lemonade was perfect and refreshing. The Peanut Butter Shake was so good and quite dangerous. It is made with their Frozen Custard, so it is thicker and creamier than regular ice cream. If you like peanut butter (and we do), you will not be disappointed. You may actually tell your friends. IMG_5204

There are other menu items that deserve a shout out. Just because we didn’t order them this time, doesn’t mean we won’t in the future. They have Flat-Top Hot Dogs, dog treats and Concretes. Their Concretes include custard with toppings mixed in. There are a few that you can only get at this location, like the Westberry and the Old Country Rocky Road which sends five percent of all proceeds to Island Harvest, or you can build your own. The mix-ins aren’t your regular sprinkles and Snicker bars, they are for real. On the list, they included Belgian Waffles, Chocolate Truffle Cookie Dough and Strawberry Puree. Concrete is a definite for next time, but so is a burger and an order of fries. Shake Shack is so popular with New Yorkers because it is just that delicious.

Shake Shack, 860 Old Country Road, Westbury, NY, 516-620-2880

Another Great Outing at Cafe Joelle

IMG_4599Whenever the ladies want to go out to eat and enjoy ourselves, Cafe Joelle is one of the top places on the list. It has everything we need: good food, good wine and a seriously delicious dessert.

My colleagues and I decided to have a celebratory lunch at Cafe Joelle during the winter, so we headed down to Sayville, snagged a parking spot in the back of the restaurant and were seated right away. We each started our meals with the Pumpkin Soup. It was creamy, warm and hearty. I could taste the hint of cinnamon and nutmeg in this festive starter. All of us enjoyed it.IMG_4600

For my lunch, I decided on the Grilled Chicken Bruschetta with Salad and Creamy Balsamic Dressing. The entire portion was perfectly sized for lunch because it was a light option, but it had great flavor. It was like an open-faced sandwich that I ate with a knife and fork. The zesty bruschetta mixed very well with the crustiness of the bread and the addition of chicken and mozzarella. This may be a great idea for a meal to replicate at home.

Of course, we had to have dessert and at Cafe Joelle, there is no other option than the Chocolate Bag. I don’t even know what else is on the menu. It is a thick chocolate shell filled with fluffy white chocolate mousse and berries. A few dollops of whipped cream sit on the side ready for you to scrape it up with pieces of chocolate and berries. The photo below doesn’t really do it justice. It looks like a pile of mush because we just couldn’t wait to dig in. We know how delicious and sinful it really is.

Eating at Cafe Joelle is never a disappointment and you should consider bringing your significant other with you. It can also be pretty romantic.

Cafe Joelle, 25 Main Street, Sayville, N.Y., 631.589.4600


Nothing old about Old Fields


Spinach & Artichoke Dip

One of my closest friends is getting married and I have the honor of being a bridesmaid, so we had to go dress shopping on a Sunday morning. Fortunately, after the fitting, we were planning on brunch at Old Fields in Greenlawn, New York.

We began our meal with beverages and several of my friends ordered the Old Fields Famous Bloody Mary. I prefer to chew my food and not sip it, so I am not a fan of the Bloody Mary. However, my friends absolutely loved them. A full celery stalk was sticking out of the drink. It was quite impressive and slightly intimidating.

Then, we ordered and enjoyed the Spinach & Artichoke Dip. It was warm and so were the pita chips that were served alongside it. We all dug in and enjoyed our shared dish. This is one appetizer that I frequently order wherever I go and I was not disappointed this time.


Short Rib Grilled Cheese and Smoked Tomato Bisque

For my entree, I ordered the Short Rib Grilled Cheese and Smoked Tomato Bisque. I enjoyed being able to order a combination dish and not choose between a sandwich or a soup. The Bisque was tasty and I could definitely taste the smokiness through the thick and creamy soup. The Grilled Cheese was sweet and crunchy. The Short Rib was a great addition to the sandwich.

All of the ladies were happy with their meals and with the bridesmaid dresses as well, come to think of it. However, if Bloody Marys make you happy, then you should visit Old Fields.

Old Fields, 81 Broadway, Greenlawn, NY, 631.754.9868

My SJCNY Top 5 Summer Foods

When I am not eating, I work for a liberal arts college on Long Island. I created a Top 5 list of foods to eat this summer in the New York metropolitan area and St. Joseph’s College published the list to its website this week.

Check it out here, and then let me know what you think in the comments below.

My Top 5

Brew with a Wurst Chaser at Hofbrau Munchen

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Bavarian Bierhaus Pretzel

We went out for a friend’s birthday at Hofbrau Munchen on West Main Street in Patchogue, New York. The location was a J&R’s Steakhouse prior to closing down for several months and reemerging as Hofbrau with a whole new look. J&R’s sold Hofbrau beer on tap when they were open and then, I guess, the owners focused on the beer and replaced the steak with a menu of German specialties, like they serve at all of the other Hofbrauhaus locations in the U.S.

Everyone in our party, except for me and the other preggo, ordered either a liter or a half liter of beer. They had a tap and a bottle menu for beer and a wine list as well. I ordered myself a very tasty Root Beer and was very satisfied (there’s still beer in the name). I also started my meal with a very large Bavarian Bierhaus Pretzel and alternated between spicy mustard and melted cheese dipping sauces. It arrived warm and soft with a thin crispy crust. If you don’t know how much I love a good soft pretzel, then you don’t know me well enough. And, I am not talking about those carcinogen twists that you can get on the streets of Manhattan. Those are gross. I am talking about the pretzels, pretzel rolls and pretzel bread that you can buy and eat fresh and soft with the right amount of salt sprinkled on top. Pure pretzel perfection.

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Wurst Sandwich with Fries

OK, enough about pretzels (even though you have to get one when you go to Hofbrau). My friends kept drinking and I kept eating, so I then ordered a Wurst Sandwich with Kielbasa. I wanted something with sauerkraut and this definitely had it, along with grilled onions, cheddar bier cheese and mustard. I prefer my brats and sausage sandwiches with just mustard and sauerkraut, so I scraped the rest of the items off. Before you start getting snarky, I tried one bite with everything and decided it was all just too much. I found solace in the crispy fries on the side and had to share them with my friends because fries go great with beer.

When everyone was ordering their close to final beer, I ordered the Vanilla Ice Cream Sundae. I have my own version of fun and that’s called eating. The sundae had three scoops of vanilla ice cream and was covered in whipped cream, caramel, chocolate and melba sauce (whatever that is). It was a great ending to a fun meal.

Vanilla Ice Cream Sundae

Vanilla Ice Cream Sundae

One problem that I did find with Hofbrau Munchen or Bierhaus Patchogue or Hofbrauhaus or German Restaurant of Long Island is that no one knows what to call it and where to find it online. Fortunately for you, I found their website and linked to it in the first paragraph of this post and below as well. You’re welcome, and you owe me a pretzel.

Bierhaus Patchogue, 32 West Main Street, Patchogue, NY, 631.475.9200.

A Double Date at Hotoke

For a holiday double date, my friends, TK and I decided to head out to Hotoke in Smithtown, New York for dinner with a 6:30 p.m. reservation. Usually, our go-to place for sushi is Sumou in Patchogue, but we thought it would be a good idea to branch out to see what specialty rolls other locations are serving.

Fortunately, when we arrived, the restaurant was practically empty, so we sat ourselves at the bar to wait for our friends. In a matter of five minutes, our friends arrived and we were seated.

We started off with some Pork Gyoza and the Tuna Tower. Being that I was pregnant, I had to abstain from eating any raw fish, so I enjoyed the Gyoza. It was crispy at the edges and salty in the soft center. They enjoyed the Tuna Tower because it was just layer upon layer of soft tuna.

For my entree, I ordered the Beef Negimaki dinner with Steamed Rice, Salad and Soup because I had to eat a completely cooked meal. I asked to substitute the Miso Soup for the Mushroom Soup because I think Miso tastes like dirty water. I just really do not enjoy it and think that the Mushroom Soup has a much better flavor. The salad was cool and fresh with a sweet ginger dressing. When my dinner came, the Beef Negimaki was steaming hot and drenched in the delicious, tangy teriyaki sauce. The rolls were pretty large so I stuffed my mouth every time I lifted my chopsticks. With Japanese food, you just have to muscle through it and not look like a newbie. No one bites sushi, or Beef Negimaki for that matter. Just eat it. I really enjoyed my food, but I couldn’t finish the large portion and didn’t think it was a good idea to take it home either. Who knows how that would reheat?

Everyone else got their fair share of specialty rolls and they were every color of the rainbow. They all looked delicious, but I tried not to look at them too long because I don’t like to torture myself while pregnant. They all loved everything that they ate and each one was more creative than the last. They all tried each roll and I didn’t hear a bad comment from anyone.

To top it off, we all got some yummy dessert. TK and I shared the Peanut Butter Mousse Cake, because we had to (Pregnant, remember?) and our friends got the Cheesecake. We enjoyed our desserts, but our entrees were the highlight of the meal, of course.

Hotoke, 41 Route 111, Smithtown, NY, 631-979-9222.