In celebration of Long Island Craft Beer Week, against my natural inclinations to keep such establishments—those rare, hidden gems of a restaurant, the kind of place you selfishly hope no one will discover lest it lose its secret charm (yet you desperately want it to succeed)—to myself and a select crew of dear, dear friends, I have decided to share with you, beloved reader-eaters, the supreme stout-joy magnificence that is The Good Life in Massapequa Park.
Rightfully so. For The Good Life serves quality, top-notch food and an absolutely delicious arsenal of craft beers that are continuously rotating, offering hungry and thirsty patrons alike the ultimate beer-food pairings. The staff is friendly, warm, always looking to suggest a new brew or ask you how your day went; the vibe is laid-back, positive; the portions are generous; prices just right; and the selection just simply rocks.
The Good Life’s food and beer menus are stocked—the former, loaded with delectably unique creations from Head Chef Ryan Augusta, changes with the seasons; the latter is always shifting, evolving, ever-presenting new tastes and flavors to melt your daydreams away. The place celebrated its one-year anniversary this week.
“Good, quality beer and good, quality food,” smiles co-owner Paul Oliva, who runs The Good Life with his brother, Anthony, and their friend, Peter Mangouranes.
Paul is a fixture at The Good Life—another characteristic that sets it apart from other pub/restaurants—six days a week, shaking hands, introducing himself, answering questions, recommending his favorites, always eager to help, meet a new patron, share a few laughs.
I, admittedly, am somewhat of a regular to this food-craft beer paradise. As such, I have pretty much sampled the majority of the food menu (some items a few times over), which ranges from scrumptious English-style pub/comfort food, with a twist, to full-blown knock-your-socks-off entrees. Each are made with fresh, local ingredients (even getting the meat for their burgers ground fresh, everyday, from the butcher next door). I’ve also dabbled in The Good Life’s tremendous array of craft beers. Too many to name here.
For starters, the Mediterranean Platter ($8) is tough to beat. Featuring a stack of toasted flat bread chips, heaps of marinated olives, chunks of feta, roasted red peppers and punctuated by a huge smattering of fresh hummus, the thing is a piece of art. I photograph her regularly, sometimes accompanied by a side of juicy, mouth-watering Wings ($8), Fried Mozzarella ($7) or Pot Stickers ($8).
The beer. Oh, the beer. The Good Life offers 99, with more than two dozen on tap (dozens of taps surround the walls)—its current lineup scrawled on a massive chalkboard over the bar.
Guinness. Snaggletooth. Yes.
Blue Point, Brooklyn Brewery’s Brooklyn Brown, Anchor Steam Liberty, Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, Cigar City Jai Alai IPA, Smuttynose, Stone Brewing Co.‘s Oaked Arrogant Bastard, Sly Fox Incubus, Hoegaarden, Westmalle Trappist Tripel, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, La Fin Du Monde, Maudite, Greenport Harbor Anniversary, Gulden Draak (beware), Long Trail Brewing Co.‘s Triple Bag, Southampton Publick House‘s Double White, Leffe Blond, Brewery Ommegang Hennepin, Great South Bay Brewery, Long Ireland, Paulaner Hefe Weizen. Yum.
The Good Life hosts monthly Beer Dinners pairing various breweries with five-course meals especially selected to bring out the subtle and not-so-subtle flavors of each. It’s an opportunity for The Good Life’s chefs to flex their creative muscles and create a special one-time-only menu for a five-course meal revolving around five different types of craft beers. From the appetizer through dessert, each morsel is specifically chosen to complement its accompanying beverage—a sophisticated Belgian-style brew to accent the tender filet mignon at the most recent such event, for example. But demand is high for these dinners. They sell out quickly; often within 20 minutes of being announced on The Good Life’s Facebook page.
The Good Life’s Asian Turkey Burger ($10)—a towering, filling mass of turk patty topped with pickled red onions, avocado and slathered with spicy mayo—is a regular on my Devour List. Oh, Lord. The Good Life Burger ($10) is equally stellar: hand-crafted sirloin smeared with blue cheese fondue, bacon jam (yes, bacon jam) and dripping in melted gruyere. The Turkey Melt ($9)—featuring gruyere and Russian dressing—is also a pleasant mouthful.
The Day After ($9) Slider has become somewhat of a staple on my Good Life excursions. Turkey meatballs larger than golf balls, smeared in gravy, caked with stuffing, slathered in cranberry reduction and accompanied by Thanksgiving-seasoned fries (or tater tots; your choice)—the platter of three slides and swallows oh so well. As do the 2way Tuna ($9): spicy tekka cradled in cucumber cups alongside seared tuna slabs, accompanied by a sweet, tangy pineapple ginger dipping sauce.
A basket of The Good Life’s house-homemade Potato Coins ($8), smothered in a hot steaming coating of Jalapeno cheddar sauce, always makes for a great side or starter. Likewise do the luscious, succulent Garlic Shrimp ($8); the meaty crustaceans hiding beneath a bed a fresh Bruschetta and fig balsamic reduction.
Nothing tops The Good Life’s Skirt Steak ($19), however. Each juicy, tender sliver is rolled into a “Rock The Casbah”-esque armadillo curl around stakes of fresh asparagus alongside a mountain of garlic mashed potatoes. Fantastic. The Mac & Cheese ($13)—drenched in a three-cheese sauce beneath an English cheddar Panko crust—is a smooth, creamy, beautiful dream. So is the absolutely gorgeous Ricotta Gnocchi & Ragout of Braised Chicken ($16). The meat is tender. The sauce is addictive. The gnocchi, well, the gnocchi are heavy potato-laden mini-detonators of pure heaven.