11/19/13 7:00am
11/19/2013 7:00 AM
RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Pepi's Restaurant in Southold, seen here in Nov. 2013,  reopened its doors late last week.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Pepi’s Restaurant in Southold, seen here in Nov. 2013, reopened its doors late last week.

One year after extensive damage from Superstorm Sandy forced Pepi’s Restaurant to shut its doors, the Southold eatery is back in business.

Nick Gibinska, who has owned Pepi’s Restaurant for nearly 15 years with his wife, Pepi, said the Old Main Road restaurant reopened to the public Nov. 15.

“It feels good,” Mr. Gibinska said of the reopening. “The restaurant is very modern, very clean.”

For now, Mr. Gibinska said, Pepi’s is open for lunch and dinner Thursday through Monday and is available for holiday parties Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

In Nov. 2012, shortly after tropical winds from Superstorm Sandy barreled across the Northeastern coastline, Ms. Gibinska told The Suffolk Times the restaurant had been “destroyed.”

“My deck is inside the restaurant,” she said at the time. “We’re trying to save what we can.”

Following the storm last fall, business was moved to the Red Rooster Bistro, which the couple also owns, on Depot Lane in Cutchogue.

[email protected]

04/18/13 6:00am
04/18/2013 6:00 AM
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO  |  Earl and Gloria Fultz, who make cHarissa, a Moroccan-influenced food seasoning.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Earl and Gloria Fultz, who make cHarissa, a Moroccan-influenced food seasoning.

Great coverage of Gloria and Earl Fultz’s long overdue production of Gloria’s Moroccan magic. Let’s hope this is an overture to a new trend in North Fork cuisine.

Back in the last century, Gloria generously shared with me her recipe for mirouzia, a Moroccan lamb stew that involved a complex combination of spices called ras el hanout. That dish elevated my culinary reputation, and over the years I have passed her recipe on to a select few, always with a small packet of the spices (and a byline for Gloria).

That small, time-consuming packet was the key to a memorable dish and the opening of new tastes. Now that we have cHarissa, can ras el hanout be far behind?

How about it, Fultzes?

Tod Berks, Orient

To read more letters to the editor, pick up a copy of this week’s Suffolk Times or click on the E-Paper.

04/01/13 12:53pm
04/01/2013 12:53 PM

FILE PHOTO | Touch of Venice in Cutchogue is among a dozen North Fork restaurants that will participate in Hamptons Restaurant Week April 7-14.

Hamptons Restaurant Week returns Sunday, April 7, and 12 North Fork restaurants are participating.

The annual spring event, known for providing prix fixe menus offering some of the most sought after cuisines at a discounted rate, runs from April 7 to April 14.

Below is a list of participating restaurants in our towns and a link and phone number for reservations:

BAITING HOLLOW 

Cooperage Inn

(631) 727-8994

CUTCHOGUE

Touch of Venice Restaurant
(631) 298-5851

GREENPORT

Blue Canoe Oyster Bar & Grill
(631) 477-6888

Noah’s
(631) 477-6720

JAMESPORT

Jamesport Manor Inn
(631) 722-0500

Jedediah Hawkins
(631) 722-2900

NEW SUFFOLK

Legends Restaurant
(631) 734-5123

RIVERHEAD

All Star, The
(631) 998-3565

Bistro 72 at Hotel Indigo
(631) 369-3325

Tweeds Restaurant and Buffalo Bar
(631) 727-6644

SHELTER ISLAND HEIGHTS

La Maison Blanche
(631) 749-1633

SOUTHOLD

North Fork Table & Inn, The
(631) 765-0177

WADING RIVER

La Plage Restaurant
(631) 744-9200

Read more in Thursday’s paper.

03/19/13 8:00am
03/19/2013 8:00 AM

GIANNA VOLPE FILE PHOTO | Gerry Hayden outside North Fork Table & Inn, where he works as chef and co-owner.

For the third consecutive year, Gerry Hayden, chef and co-owner of North Fork Table & Inn in Southold, is a finalist for a James Beard award, one of the most prestigious honors in the culinary world, in the best chef in the Northeastern U.S. category.

Mr. Hayden is one of five finalists in the region covering New York and all six New England States. He’s up against Jamie Bissonnette of the Coppa Restaurant in Boston, Joanne Chang of the Flour Bakery & Cafe, also in Boston; Melissa Kelly of Primo, Rockland, Maine and Barry Maiden of the Hungry Mother is Cambridge, MA.

The awards in 59 categories will be be announced during a ceremony at the Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center in New York of May 6.

Founded in 1986, The James Beard Foundation describes itself as dedicated “to celebrating, nurturing, and preserving America’s diverse culinary heritage and future.” It’s named after cookbook author and teacher James Beard, a champion of American cuisine who died in 1985. The James Beard Foundation, which sponsors the annual awards, maintains the James Beard House in Greenwich Village as a performance space for visiting chefs.

Mr. Hayden grew up in Setauket and began working in restaurants in junior high school when he took a job as a dishwasher at a Stony Brook eatery.

In an interview after receiving his second Beard award nomination last year, he said, “When people come out to eat, they expect a show. I don’t want people to come here and say, ‘Oh I could have made that at home.’ That’s not dining to me.”

[email protected]

03/12/13 10:00am
03/12/2013 10:00 AM

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Stephan Bogardus of North Fork Table & Inn will take his cooking game to the small screen on an episode of Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ tonight.

Stephan Bogardus of Southold, chef de cuisine at The North Fork Table & Inn, will appear in an episode of the Food Network contest show “Chopped” tonight.

The episode airs at 10 p.m.

Mr. Bogardus, 25, learned his way around the kitchen working at several East End eateries. The chef, who speaks four languages, originally planned on attending law school, but was not accepted into any good schools, he said. On the advice of another chef, he attended the Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 2009.

Not long after, he made his was back to the North Fork.

Mr. Bogardus said Gerry Hayden, executive chef of The North Fork Table & Inn, recommended him to “Chopped” producers.

The show pits four chefs against each other competing for a chance to win $10,000. The challenge is to take a mystery basket of ingredients and turn them into dishes that are judged on creativity, presentation, and taste — with minimal time to plan and execute — a description of the show reads.

We sat down with Mr. Bogardus last month to discuss his career and his experience on the show:

Q. What would you say your specialty is?

A. What we have here at the North Fork Table & Inn, American cuisine and comfort food. Fresh local ingredients, they naturally display the pristine of the North Fork.

Q. Were you able to bring any North Fork flare to any of your dishes?

A. Absolutely. I like to feel being a native and a local out here, I brought a lot of personality and Long Island pride to the show for sure.

Q. One of the ingredients in the first round was beef tongue, had you ever worked with it before?

A. I make smoked beef tongue here at the restaurant. We purchased all the cows from Russell McCall at McCall Ranch this year, and so every two weeks we received a whole cow, that had the tongue in it. So I always did some kind of cure. I was quite aware of the ingredient.

Q. What was the most challenging aspect of the competition?

A. The timing is really, really hard. I had practiced a couple of times with twenty-minute increments and mystery baskets and things, it goes so much faster when you are in the studio.

It was hands down the most challenging 20 minutes of my life. Not only having to do what they ask you, to put together the best plate against these talented individuals, then there are cameras and lights and cords running across the floor you had to jump over. Something they did in the pantry, they put ingredients all over the place. It’s not all organized and together. There’s a lot of hunting and pecking that you have to do to assemble.

Q. Do you think your young age was an asset, or did it hinder your performance?

A. It was definitely a double-edged sword. It was great because I feel like a lot of the competitors underestimated me, but it was also challenging because my level of experience did not match most others. I would consider myself the least experienced of all the individuals.

Q. How did it feel to be selected as a contestant?

A. I knew I was being considered to be a contestant, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be selected. I’m just a 25-year-old from Southold, I never thought I’d be on TV.

It was a life-changing experience. It was truly an honor to be chosen as a competitor. There was really an acknowledgment toward years of hard work and experience, on a national level, which is pretty sweet.

[email protected]

02/24/13 12:00pm
02/24/2013 12:00 PM

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Stephan Bogardus of North Fork Table & Inn will take his cooking game to the small screen next month on an episode of Food Network’s ‘Chopped.’

If you watch the popular Food Network contest show “Chopped,” you’ll have a local chef to root for in an episode airing next month.

Stephan Bogardus of Southold, chef de cuisine at The North Fork Table & Inn, will appear in an episode set to air at 10 p.m. March 12.

Mr. Bogardus, 25, learned his way around the kitchen working at several East End eateries. The chef, who speaks four languages, originally planned on attending law school, but was not accepted into any good schools, he said. On the advice of another chef, he attended the Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 2009.

Not long after, he made his was back to the North Fork.

Mr. Bogardus said Gerry Hayden, executive chef of The North Fork Table & Inn, recommended him to “Chopped” producers.

The show pits four chefs against each other competing for a chance to win $10,000. The challenge is to take a mystery basket of ingredients and turn them into dishes that are judged on creativity, presentation, and taste — with minimal time to plan and execute — a description of the show reads.

We sat down with Mr. Bogardus this week to discuss his career and his experience on the show:

Q. What would you say your specialty is?

A. What we have here at the North Fork Table & Inn, American cuisine and comfort food. Fresh local ingredients, they naturally display the pristine of the North Fork.

Q. Were you able to bring any North Fork flare to any of your dishes?

A. Absolutely. I like to feel being a native and a local out here, I brought a lot of personality and Long Island pride to the show for sure.

Q. One of the ingredients in the first round was beef tongue, had you ever worked with it before?

A. I make smoked beef tongue here at the restaurant. We purchased all the cows from Russell McCall at McCall Ranch this year, and so every two weeks we received a whole cow, that had the tongue in it. So I always did some kind of cure. I was quite aware of the ingredient.

Q. What was the most challenging aspect of the competition?

A. The timing is really, really hard. I had practiced a couple of times with twenty-minute increments and mystery baskets and things, it goes so much faster when you are in the studio.

It was hands down the most challenging 20 minutes of my life. Not only having to do what they ask you, to put together the best plate against these talented individuals, then there are cameras and lights and cords running across the floor you had to jump over. Something they did in the pantry, they put ingredients all over the place. It’s not all organized and together. There’s a lot of hunting and pecking that you have to do to assemble.

Q. Do you think your young age was an asset, or did it hinder your performance?

A. It was definitely a double-edged sword. It was great because I feel like a lot of the competitors underestimated me, but it was also challenging because my level of experience did not match most others. I would consider myself the least experienced of all the individuals.

Q. How did it feel to be selected as a contestant?

A. I knew I was being considered to be a contestant, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be selected. I’m just a 25-year-old from Southold, I never thought I’d be on TV.

It was a life-changing experience. It was truly an honor to be chosen as a competitor. There was really an acknowledgment toward years of hard work and experience, on a national level, which is pretty sweet.

[email protected]

02/23/13 9:29am
02/23/2013 9:29 AM

COURTESY PHOTO | Acclaimed local chef Tom Schaudel, shown here at his restaurant Jewel in Huntington, has signed on as culinary director at the new Suffolk Theater in Riverhead.

The Suffolk Theater is set to open in downtown Riverhead next week and a familiar face has joined the team.

Chef Tom Schaudel, best known on the North Fork as the owner of acclaimed restaurants A Mano and Alure, has signed on as culinary director of the theater.

In that capacity, he’ll oversee the theater’s full-service restaurant and two bars.

A graduate of The Culinary Institute, Mr. Schaudel opened his first restaurant on Long Island 30 years ago.

Mr. Schaudel’s first order of business in his new role was to collaborate with the theater’s food and beverage manager Lawrence Smith on a special cocktail for opening night March 2.

See a recipe for the drink, dubbed The Lord Suffolk Cocktail, below:

THE ‘LORD SUFFOLK’ COCKTAIL

Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain

1 3/4 oz Hendricks* gin (5 cl, 7/16 gills)

1/4 oz Cointreau (6 dashes, 1/16 gills)

1/4 oz sweet vermouth (6 dashes, 1/16 gills)

1/4 oz maraschino liqueur (6 dashes, 1/16 gills)

Add lemon twist

Serve in a cocktail glass (4.5 oz)

01/08/13 8:01am
01/08/2013 8:01 AM

When Superstorm Sandy dealt the Greenport bake shop Butta Cakes a heavy dose of damage, owner Marc LaMaina didn’t see it as a disaster, but rather a unique opportunity to do something he’d wanted to do for over a year — go from serving cupcakes and sweets to burritos and beer.

“The storm came and destroyed our floor and our entire interiors, so we went ahead and put the plans together to change the business,” said Mr. LaMaina of closing Butta Cakes and opening the new Lucharitos in its place. “We opened on Dec. 21st with a family and friends gathering, which went really well.”

The 32-year-old business owner said not only has the transformation of his business into a taco and burrito bar always been on the back burner, but that he’s not the only one who couldn’t be happier about the new fare on Main Street.

“A lot of people are saying the food is awesome, the atmosphere is amazing and the people who work here are friendly, which is music to my ears,” he said. “It’s very affordable to come eat lunch and have a beer here.”

He said he’s also been thankful for the support he’s received from local chefs Robert Beaver of The Frisky Oyster and Noah Schwartz of Noah’s.

“Robby and Noah have really shown a lot of selflessness helping me out during this time,” he said. “I know that I can borrow from them if I run out of something and that really only happens in small towns like Greenport. ”

He said the menu at Lucharitos serves up simple and fresh food items such as nachos, tacos and burritos.

“Our nachos are selling really well, we have a cilantro lime shrimp burrito and a standard beef taco with fresh guacamole and sour cream for $3.25,” he said.

As far as the bar, Mr. LaMaina said there’s more to come in the future, including margaritas.

“We plan to eventually carry 15 types of tequila and once you’ve tried all 15 types, you can get a t-shirt,” he said, adding that the bar will remain open until 2 a.m. on Saturday nights.

12/23/12 7:59am
12/23/2012 7:59 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Peconic Bay scallops seviche.

The North Fork is a beautiful peninsula of land surrounded by Peconic Bay, Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. The wetlands, varying salinity, tides and temperatures have created a seascape unique in the world. And the well-drained sandy soil and long growing season have favored agriculture for centuries. As the crush of population moves east, many of our long-developed resources have dwindled, but their traditions hang on. I have enjoyed being a professional chef on the North Fork for the past 40 years, year in, year out and year round. The foods that keep appearing over and over again are ducks, oysters, scallops, clams, finfish and myriad plant foods — including the wine.

As time moves on into the 21st century we sometimes forget that duck farming was a major industry, with production peaking at six million ducks in 1968 from over 30 producers. Greenport was once the oyster capital of the East Coast, with production peaking at about 25 million pounds of oyster meats in the 1930s. Commercial fishing has changed as aquaculture replaces the dwindling supply of wild fish. And the large crops of wholesale potatoes, cauliflower and cabbage have been gradually replaced by specialty farms that seek to compete in a changed marketplace.

But our cuisine, or the art of cookery using the foods and traditions of our area, has evolved into a distinct art form based on these wonderful ingredients. This Christmas dinner is a celebration of some of these special foods. The recipes are intended to serve eight people.

First Course

Peconic Bay Scallop Seviche

Combine in a bowl the juice of 3 limes and 1 teaspoon lime zest. Toss 1 pound of fresh bay scallops in this mixture and add 1/2 cup diced red onion, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover the bowl with plastic film and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours before serving.

At service time, remove the flesh from 2 avocados and cut into half-inch cubes. Lightly toss these in a bowl with the juice of 1 lime. Remove the leaves from 1 bunch of fresh watercress. Cut 1 cup of cherry tomatoes in half.

Place watercress in the bottoms of 8 martini glasses. Add the avocado next and place the scallops and tomatoes on top, pouring the sauce over all. Garnish with a little chopped cilantro.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | A cup of oyster stew is ready to serve on a plate covered in hand painted insects.

Soup Course

Oyster Stew

Purchase 1 pint of fresh shucked oysters. Spray a sauté pan with no-stick and cook 1/4 pound of pancetta at medium heat. Remove to a paper towel, chop coarsely and set aside.

Add to the saucepan 1 tablespoon butter, 2 chopped leeks (white part), 2 minced scallions and 1 cup chopped celery. Season with 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook covered at low heat until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 tablespoon flour and stir it into the mixture, continuing to cook another 2 minutes. Stir in 2 cups milk and 1 cup heavy cream and bring to a simmer.

Add the pint of oysters with their juices and gradually bring back to a simmer. Add the reserved pancetta and check for seasoning. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup crushed pilot crackers. Garnish with pilot crackers and serve.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Putting the garnishes on the Long Island duck.

Entrée

Brined/Steamed/Roasted Duck

Purchase a fresh 6-pound Long Island duck from a local retailer. Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity and remove the surrounding fat. Trim the wing tips, the tail and the flap of skin near the neck. Save these for another use and rinse the duck under cold water.

Prepare a brine by combining 2 cups orange juice with 2 cups water. Add 1/2 cup coarse salt, 12 bruised peppercorns, 1 bunch fresh thyme, 1 bunch fresh rosemary, 1 tablespoon minced garlic and 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger. Heat this mixture just enough to dissolve the salt. Add a cup of ice cubes to cool.

Place the duck in a glass or plastic container and pour the brine over it. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.

Make a glaze by adding to a small saucepan 1/2 cup honey, 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Bring this mixture to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the duck from the brine and dry with paper towels. Place it on a V-rack in a roasting pan, breast side up. With a sharp pointed knife, cut a diamond pattern of shallow cuts in the skin. Place in the cavity of the duck 1 quartered orange, 1 bunch of thyme and 1 bunch of rosemary. Tie the legs and wings close to the body with butcher’s twine.

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and pour it over the duck, letting the water end up in the bottom of the roasting pan. Cover the roasting pan tightly with foil and place in a 400-degree oven. Cook for 45 minutes and remove the duck from the oven.

Pour off the water and fat and replace the duck in the roasting pan on its rack. Brush the duck all over with the glaze and put it back in the oven, turning down the heat to 375. Let it cook, brushing it with glaze every half-hour, for 1 1/2 hours. If it begins to get too dark, place a loose piece of foil over the breast area. When finished, the duck should be a dark mahogany color and the legs should move easily when squeezed.

Remove duck from the oven and let it rest, covered with foil, for 20 minutes. Cut off the string and remove the herbs and orange from the cavity. Carve the duck at the table or cut it into eighths and partially debone.

Orange Sauce

Purchase 6 navel oranges and squeeze the juice from 4 of them. Remove the zest from 1 orange and set aside. Peel remaining 2 oranges and cut the sections from the membranes.

In a small saucepan, bring to a boil 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Cook until it begins to caramelize and turns golden. Add the reserved orange juice, 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, 1/4 cup minced shallots and 1 cup chicken stock. Simmer until reduced by one-third and swirl in 2 tablespoons cold butter. Add back the orange sections and the zest along with 1 tablespoon orange liqueur, such as triple sec or Grand Marnier.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Raspberry trifle for dessert.

Dessert

Raspberry Trifle

Begin by making a plain pound cake. Cream 1/2 pound butter with 2 cups sugar for 5 minutes, using a paddle and a mixer at medium speed. Beat in 5 large eggs, one at a time.

Place 3 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl and combine with a whisk.

Combine 3/4 cup buttermilk and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a small bowl.

Turn the mixer on to slow speed and alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

Spray 2 loaf pans with no-stick and divide the batter between them. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 55 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from oven, cool slightly and turn out cakes on a rack to cool. Wrap and refrigerate.

To make the trifle, make a syrup by bringing to a boil 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur (Chambord, framboise). Remove syrup from heat and let cool.

In a bowl, place 1 cup raspberry jam, 2 tablespoons Chambord and 4 cups fresh raspberries. Combine them gently and set aside.

In a mixer, whip 2 cups heavy cream to stiff peaks and fold in 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar.

Slice the chilled pound cake into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Cut the slices in half to make squares. Fill the bottom of a trifle dish with pound cake (some pieces of cake will have to be trimmed) and brush with syrup. Spread the raspberry mixture over this and then a layer of whipped cream. Repeat with two more layers. Garnish the top with 1 cup fresh raspberries and chill for 2 hours.

(The pound cake recipe was adapted from Ina Garten and the trifle was adapted from Martha Stewart.)

John Ross, a chef and author, has been an active part of the North Fork food and wine community for more than 35 years. Email: [email protected]

12/16/12 2:58pm
12/16/2012 2:58 PM

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Sweet Tomato’s is spruced up for the holidays and ready to welcome its New Year’s crowd.

Have you been eating out a bit more often in the past several months, treating yourself despite the tight economy?

Then you’re in line with most other Americans. Although it seems counter intuitive, despite a sagging economy going on four years, the restaurant industry has experienced less of a downturn than other economic sectors.

Growth in the industry has been steady over the past three years, according to National Restaurant Association Executive Vice President Hudson Riehle. Restaurant jobs have also outpaced other sectors of the economy, he said.

Still, Mr. Riehle doesn’t expect full recovery until 2014.

Shelter Island restaurateurs are marking calendars for the next few weeks of holiday celebrations — both family gatherings and office parties — to help them meet expectations for this season. Those that remain open after summer visitors departed are looking to a busy holiday season to sustain operations at this time of year.

THE PRICE IS RIGHT

Business has been booming at Vine Street Café, where owners Lisa and Terry Harwood were hard-pressed to keep up with the summer traffic. More than a few Islanders and summer visitors complained they couldn’t get a reservation.

“It’s been great,” Ms. Harwood said, while admitting, “The restaurant business is always tough.” The food prices that restaurants pay their suppliers are up and the café is not willing to compromise quality to save money, Ms. Harwood said.

“If you want organic and natural food, it’s expensive,” she added. Still, the Harwoods try to offer some “value meals” that make their restaurant affordable.

On New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve, Vine Street Café will be open, but there will be no prix-fixe meals.

The couple has been challenged in their efforts to create a similar dining experience in Greenport where they opened Blue Canoe a few months ago. Superstorm Sandy had other ideas about a profitable fall season, Ms. Harwood said. Located on the edge of Greenport Harbor near the North Ferry terminal, Blue Canoe flooded during the storm, washing away all the inventory. No sooner had they reopened, they had a power surge that put them in the dark again. But Blue Canoe is now open seven days a week from noon to about 9 or 10 p.m., while Vine Street Café operates Friday through Monday nights from 5 to 9 p.m. On Sundays, there’s a prix-fixe menu.

At 18 Bay, owners Adam Kopels and Elizabeth Ronzetti said they’ve definitely been busier this year, their second on the Island.

Mr. Kopels is inclined to think the industry as a whole is ahead of the curve when it comes to the nation’s economic recovery.

“It’s one of those luxuries, but you have to eat,” Mr. Kopels said. There has been so much austerity in people’s lives, they want to treat themselves to good food, the restaurateur speculated.

While the couple works to keep prices reasonable, Mr. Kopels, like the Harwoods, has seen a rise in prices from suppliers.

The most recent statistics from the National Restaurant Association track what Island eateries are dealing with: an 8-percent spike in overall food prices paid by restaurateurs in 2011. Prices for basic commodities — flour, eggs, beef, veal and pork — are up between 11 and 22 percent this year, according to NRA statistics.

“What do you want to sell to the public? We are committed 100 percent to our local producers,” Mr. Kopels said. “We’re quality snobs,” he added. “We can bring the best of one or two things to the menu.”

FEASTING ON THE HOLIDAYS

Unlike last year, 18 Bay will be open on New Year’s Eve, with an atmosphere more subdued than other restaurants, Mr. Kopels said. If you’re looking for a “civilized place” for your holiday celebration, and “you like good food,” 18 Bay just might be your choice, he said.

The restaurant will close after New Year’s Eve, for January.

Sweet Tomato’s is all dressed up for the holidays, looking much like a Christmas card scene. Owner Jimi Rando was unavailable to discuss his business, but ads indicate he’s open for dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays and for brunch and lunch on Saturdays.

On New Year’s Eve, Sweet Tomato’s will be offering a special menu and also a party that includes free transportation to and from the Grand Avenue restaurant, an open bar and passed hors d’oeuvres.

But as important as that celebration is to Mr. Rando, this Saturday’s “Toast for Toys” is just as important. Mr. Rando is inviting people to join in a local toy drive to benefit children affected by Hurricane Sandy. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Mr. Rando is asking people to bring new, unwrapped toys he’ll exchange for a free glass of wine, beer or a mimosa. Mr. Rando helped organize the Island’s relief efforts to help Sandy victims on Long Beach and Island Park who were devastated by the storm.

Jack Kiffer at the Dory is more cynical than other owners about how the economy has affected business.

“This year has been terrible so far,” Mr. Kiffer said about business. To attract customers, he began a promotion called “Club Dory” on Thursday nights, inviting people to come sit by the fire and watch first-run movies on his giant 8-foot by 8-foot screen while they snack on his bar menu of pizza, chili, chowder and other soups, wraps and hamburger and hotdog sliders.

On Fridays, it’s pasta night between 4 and 7 p.m. He might offer movies other nights if they prove to be popular.

While Mr. Kiffer said the economy hasn’t killed his business, it’s been a bumpy ride. He describes the current year as “on par with any other bad year.”

The Dory will close Christmas Eve, but will be open New Year’s Eve, with the giant-screen TV tuned to Times Square for the countdown to 2013. As for the winter ahead, Mr. Kiffer expects to be open except for a week in January when he might take a vacation, he said.

SALT, the popular eatery located at the Island Boatyard, is open for holiday parties.

COMING BACK

At La Maison Blanche, General Manager Matthew Bell said business came to a halt because of Sandy.

“We took a hit for two weeks,” he said. But now he’s focused on guests who have re-booked, anticipating a busy New Year’s Eve.

“We’re very optimistic,” he said about the recovering economy.

The restaurant won’t be open Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but there’s a four-course dinner planned for New Year’s Eve that will be the restaurant’s finale as management and staff take a six-week hiatus before reopening for Valentine’s Day.

The Islander’s owner Ashley Knight said her place will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but she hasn’t yet decided what she’ll do about New Year’s Eve.

“Things are going well,” Ms. Knight said about the restaurant she and Chris Chobor took over from Pat and Steve Lenox in June 2011. This winter, The Islander will be open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. “Winters are always harder,” Ms. Knight said, but she sees an advantage in the loyalty of regular customers who keep the bright, laid-back spot going even in the off-season.

Similarly, at Clark’s Fish House, Shelley Clark-Rohde has been dependent on local regulars to keep her business alive.

“I’m very happy with how things have been going,” Ms. Clark-Rohde said, offering prix-fixe dinners between 5 and 7 p.m. on Sundays with a choice between a fish special and a “landlubber’s meal.”

Clark’s Fish House won’t be open for Christmas or New Year’s celebrations, Ms. Clark-Rohde said. But her prediction that there are enough locals to keep the restaurant going in the off season is proving to be accurate, she said.

Stars Café owner Lydia Martinez and her husband Pepe are realistic about the seasonality of their business. They’ve been Islanders since 2007, so they’re used to busy summers, a profitable December and then the usual winter struggle when Stars is dependent on support from locals, Ms. Martinez said.

“Every year, we’ve seen growth,” she added. With higher prices for basic commodities, they have tried to maintain prices at the same levels as when Stars Café first opened. The result is less profit, but some is made up by increased volume, she said.

Throughout the month of December, Stars Café is hosting special events, including this Saturday’s Christmas ornament and pottery painting between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and gingerbread cookie decorating and carol singing on Saturday, December 22 between 1 and 3 p.m.

At Commander Cody’s, business has been a little light on weekdays, said Amanda Hayward, but picks up on weekends, when lobsters and other fresh fish and bay scallops are still big. And Ms. Hayward is busy taking holiday orders for platters of food and her holiday pies and cakes.

New Year’s Eve means the traditional customer appreciation night at Commander Cody’s. Customers are invited to bring their own bottle and snack on food provided by Ms. Hayward. That party begins its countdown about 10 p.m.