827 Walt Whitman Rd, Melville
There’s so much to love about this sandwich counter. The all-natural, whole-roasted meats aspect, for sure. And the clean sleek post-modern makeover on the dearly departed Dino’s Joint, taking it back as a gourmet, fast-casual destination like another predecessor, Peace Street Kitchen. But glory be, the sandwiches. My first taste was the Braised Brisket Grilled Cheese ($6.59), a revelation in chopped beef and three melted cheeses on thick slices of toasted, buttered sourdough bread so satisfying that it almost prevents me from venturing through the rest of the menu. Roast Beef Melt ($7.99) on Cuban bread with Swiss and au jus sauce has just a hint of horseradish and onion. Their version of a Philly Cheese Steak ($9.59) has caramelized onions giving it a sweeter taste, and it sits on oniony hero bread. The skin-on Housemade French Fries ($2.75) are wonderful, as are the Sweet Potato Tots ($2.75) not homemade, but dusted with nutmeg and cinnamon giving them a creative makeover. A Baby Spinach Salad ($7.95) with roasted mushrooms and grilled zucchini shows an eqully deft hand. The execution on everything sampled is so perfect that I imagine the amount of time spent on experimentation and negotiation by the creators. They are Matt Doyle, a veteran of Spice Market and a sous chef at Blackstones and his partner, Joe Cordero, a line chef at Coolfish and a sous chef at Craftbar. Two young men with a dream.
22 N. Park Ave., Rockville Centre
Panini and salads in the same sleek digs that once housed 22 Park and Gabrielle’s in Rockville Centre? You mean I can sit under that cool stained glass canopy in the back or at the long marble-topped bar upfront and chow down casually instead of dining out? Sounds good to me, especially with the emphasis at that bar on a dozen bourbons and plenty of craft beers on tap. This third link in a chain that began in Park Slope has 40 pressed sandwiches as its claim to fame but I couldn’t get past the Knish Corner, first time out. There are six types pressed between square potato knishes, and I chose the Meatloaf Knish ($8.50), covered with cheddar and brown gravy, the slab of ground meat melting into its potato innards. The best meat and potatoes sandwich I’ve ever had and not as messy as it sounds. The more conventional panini, pressed on Ciabatta bread, have numbers instead of names. The Number 23 ($8.75) is a solid choice made with grilled lemon chicken, spinach and Fontina cheese. I also liked the Number 12 ($8.50), a good choice for vegetarians, made with marinated artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes and two cheeses, all made special by the Southwestern flavor of black bean hummus. The Number 8 ($9.), their version of a Cuban sandwich, is an okay rendition. I was also really impressed by what wasn’t pressed. The Hudson Valley Salad ($10.25) is a DIY combination of mixed greens dressed in Doc’s Draft apple cider vinaigrette and supplied with Hazelnut pieces, Bleu cheese and sliced green apple. Impressive.
Get instant news on restaurants on LI and everywhere else Ron Beigel eats; follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TweatersDigest and on Facebook by searching “Eaters Digest-LI Press.”