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What Zagat Forgot: Crimes of Omission in the New Edition


(Ron Beigel/Long Island Press)

Every two years the Long Island Zagat survey appears with the results of an entirely new poll. Diners and critics debate the sometimes surprising findings, but most people pick it up to check out  the top picks. Restaurants owners, on the other hand, wonder why their restaurant scored so low and some, waking up too late, wonder why their place doesn’t appear in the book at all.

The Zagat survey intends to be an exclusive collection of notable establishments, by no means comprehensive. Even in a new world where Zagat may seem to have been beaten at their own game by internet sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon, inclusion in the survey is still very valuable. Having acted as a local editor for the book almost a decade ago I can attest to the overwhelming task of keeping track of the 900 odd places included. But there are many head-scratching additions with worthy restaurants having been missed that deserve mention. Herewith my list of crimes of omission:


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First offense is Rumba in Hampton Bays which opened last year. Set in a paradise-like spot overlooking Shinnecock Bay, they boast creatively prepared Caribbean food including fresh seafood and jerk chicken to go with a long roster of hard to find rums.

If Little Mexico in Westbury were located in Queens or Brooklyn it would be just one of many authentic Mexican restaurants. But considering that we are stuck in a kind of “fajita/margarita” vortex on LI this tiny fonda with real deal comidas should have been included two years ago.

Is it really necessary to include every Five Guys when dozens of new locally-owned hamburger joints are missing? Burger Spot in Garden City for example cooks terrific freshly ground patties and rocks a mean Cobb salad as well.

Roast Sandwich House in Melville should be replicated in every town on Long Island. This   mecca for carefully prepared sandwiches made with freshly roasted meats by two young, thoughtful chefs in modern surroundings opened last year to immediate success.

Peruvian restaurants have been trending on the island. Some are too new to have been included but La Vinas in Manhasset, a cool spot with tapas and sangria added to the menu should have made the cut.

If Bridgehampton Candy Kitchen continues to make it just on the merits of their homemade ice cream, (they boast the lowest food rating) then shouldn’t Sip N’ Soda in Southampton?

The Cook Room in Middle Island, a “gastro” diner with incredible breakfast and lunches is one of the reasons a guide like Zagat was invented. Little known, out of the way joints like this are why we carry guides when we travel.

Last, but not the least injustice is Pizzeteria Brunetti in Westhampton Beach, not much more than a counter and a few stools in the back of an ice cream store, it has some of the best artisanal designer pizzas this side of Manhattan.

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