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What's Cookin'? - Smithtown's Farm Fresh Bounty - Supporting Local and Independent

Smithtown’s Farm Fresh Bounty - Supporting Local and Independent

By Nancy Vallarella What’s Cookin’? -Smithtown

Part 1 of 3 part series

2018 is a banner year for local, plant-based food availability in the Town of Smithtown. Kings Park, Nesconset, and Saint James all host markets on the weekend.  Borella’s Farm Stand (St. James) and BB & GG Farms and Nursery (Head of the Harbor), are open 7 days a week. Locally grown vegetables are available until Mother Nature dictates closing. This is usually in late October to mid-November. 

The farm-to-table way of eating is not new or revolutionary. It wasn’t until post World War II, Americans began embracing convenience food. Convenience won out over nutrition, and the diet-related health issues started their epidemic journey. 

During the 60’s and 70’s, the back-to-earth movement of organic, natural food, and “support the local farmer” became groovy.  Convenience once again prevailed over that movement.  America’s waistline continued to grow, and health issues reached epidemic proportions.

Today, many people are paying more attention to what they eat and how it makes them feel.  The good news is there has been a return to a more traditional way of feeding ourselves. The trend of eating locally sourced products opens the door to improved individual health and presents an opportunity to improve the local community, economy, and ecology.  

Earlier this summer, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced that the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning has initiated a program designed to support consumers and producers of locally produced products. The initiative is “Choose LI - Choose Local & Independent”. This concept conveys awareness of Suffolk County’s agricultural producers, their products, and artisan value-added products via the ChooseLI.org website.  Consumers are asked to “Take the Pledge”. - The pledge is symbolic. No one is bound to the pledge with terms or conditions.

The theory behind the pledge is if 10% of Suffolk County households pledge 10% of their weekly food budget - $17.60 (New Yorker’s spend $176/week on groceries according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics), that spending over the typical Long Island harvest season would add 19 million dollars into the local economy. The 19 million dollars of direct spending would create 33 million dollars in total economic activity and create nearly 1,000 jobs.

Although the ChooseLI.org website is still under development, there are reasons to take the pledge now.  They are building an inventory of existing farm stands and farmers’ markets, fish markets, vineyards, breweries, cideries, and distilleries in Suffolk County. Taking the pledge will communicate via email upcoming local events, special events, Partner Deals, and informational updates.  See what has been completed: www.ChooseLI.org.

The Community Association of Greater Saint James, volunteer their time and resources to host a market on Saturday mornings featuring local produce to bring the community together attracting commerce and increasing awareness of businesses on Lake Avenue. 

Fink’s at St. James MarketThroughout Long Island, a new breed of restaurant owners are dedicated to buying locally produced food. From the west end of Long Beach to Greenport, farm fresh product is on the menu and Smithtown is no exception. More on that later in part two of this series Smithtown’s Farm Fresh Bounty - Where to Find.

Purchasing vegetables and value-added produced goods (pickles, pies, jams, etc.) from a local farm help preserve the limited open space left on Long Island. The finite amount of land left on this fish-tailed island is valuable and expensive commodity to maintain. Ever wonder why the remaining farmers don’t cash out and leave behind the back-breaking, unforgiving, unpredictable forces of mother nature that dictate their ability to make a living?

Sujecki Farm & Nurseries at King’s Park Farmer’s MarketKing Park Farmer’s Market producer, Jonathan Sujecki of Sujecki Farms and Nursery (Calverton) offered this response, “My family has been farming on the same piece of ground since 1900. When you are on that ground, you can feel the blood, sweat and tears that went into making it survive until today. Not many people are able to say that they know what their great-great-grandfather did.  I can relate to the struggles and the great times that everyone before me went through. The pride of being able to say I’m doing what generations before me did outweigh everything.  Knowing how hard it is, and how hard it was for them. Knowing they were able to make a life doing what they love. That drives me each and every day.” 

It’s National Farmer’s Market weekend. Celebrate by visiting a local market or farm stand. Socialize, talk to the grower. Buy and consume their products and discover how “the timeless values of patience, frugality, loyalty, and community are inimical to the fast food values that pervade the modern world.”- Alice Waters, forward from Unforgettable, The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life. 

Part 2 will be posted next Thursday.


Mosaic In St. James Reopens With Its 5 Course Tasting Menu And More Space

Mosaic Quietly Reopens

By Nancy Vallarella of What’s Cookin’? - Smithtown

After a dozen years in the Saint James community, Mosaic, St. James has expanded.  Chefs Jonathan Contes and Tate Morris took the best of the original recipe and improved upon it. The new additional dining area holds approximately forty guests.   Banquette seating, a 750-bottle wine display case, dedicated service area, and restroom have been added.  All designed to accommodate dining and facilitate private parties.

The new addition is separated by a sliding custom steel barn door that can be closed off to Mosaic’s original space. A brasserie vibe resonates here. Tiny black and white mosaic tiles fashioned to display the establishment’s name is the foundation of the new bar area.  Patrons can now belly up to the bar to dine in addition to two sizable banquette seating areas.  This is the vantage point for kitchen and craft cocktail activity.

The ambience is relaxed fine dining and does not take away from the real star, the ever-evolving Mosaic 5-Course Chef’s Tasting Menu ($86/pp++ optional 5-course wine pairing add $45).

Mosaic’s dishes transcend generational dining demographic, curated with dedication, creativity, and classic culinary skill without pretension. The staff is knowledgeable and guests are accommodated with alacrity. 

Second Course from Mosaic’s Chef’s Tasting Menu, Saturday, August 4, 2018

Tuna & Golden Melon Tartar arugula, black olive, fresh mozzarella, sundried tomato muffuletta, balsamic, basil.

Congratulations to Chefs Contes and Morris for preserving the things we love at Mosaic and giving us more space to enjoy. Here’s to the next decade! Cheers.

Mosaic 418 N. Country Road, St. James 631-584-2058


Teetotalism and the Long Island Welcome Center

Teetotalism and the Long Island Welcome Center

By Nancy Vallarella of What’s Cookin? – Smithtown

Over the past sixteen months, the Long Island Welcome Center and Taste NY Marketplace at Dix Hills have had several operational and product changes. What remains consistent is an impressive facility that conveys a culture defined by history, achievements, and food. Here hospitality is key to reach the goal of driving Long Island’s economy through agritourism. 

The center’s market, Taste NY Marketplace, features premium products that have been grown, sourced or produced locally. However, Long Island’s wine and craft beer are not sold at this Taste NY Marketplace. The federal highway location and self-checkout policies do not lend well to alcoholic beverage consumption or purchase. Instead, accommodating kiosks and multimedia presentations map out locations to visit and indulge in these products.

The Taste NY Marketplace at the Long Island Welcome Center at Dix Hills does offer a significant amount of nonalcoholic, locally produced, artisan beverages.  Coffee and teas are sold both hot and cold to drink on site, to go, and to brew at home.  Also available are a variety of bottled water, cider, soda, and even kombucha. 

New York state has quality spring water sources and significant apple and grape crops. Coffee bean and tea leaf crops do not exist.  When local ingredients are not available, local producers take on the role of gatekeeper sourcing quality ingredients and then applying a technique. 

Locally roasted coffee from Giorgio’s Coffee Roasters of Farmingdale and Sail Away Coffee Co. (Deer Park) featuring iced bottled cold brew and kegged nitro iced coffee are currently available at the Taste NY Market Place at Dix Hills.  

Recent visitors found themselves tea cupping the afternoon away with a gracious host. Serendipi Tea’s Co-founder and Owner, Linda Villano was front and center dispensing product while discussing everything you ever wanted to know about tea and tisanes.  Loose botanicals of varied texture and color found only in nature were displayed among the brewed teas emitting a delicious fragrance.  Serendipi Tea’s ingredients are sourced from all over the world and are QAI organic certified.  Manhasset based since 1995. Serendipi Tea products have the distinction of World Tea Championship and North American Tea Championship winners.

This Tea Demo and Tasting was hosted by Taste NY and Serendipi Tea. This event was one of many offered by Taste NY throughout the state. For a schedule of upcoming events reference: https://taste.ny.gov/events. 

Smithtown residents can enjoy Serendipi Tea’s and Sail Away Coffee products at Soul Brew in Saint James.


Vitality Bowls - Healthy Eating Opens In Smithtown

Vitality Bowls, which specializes in açaí bowls – a thick blend of the Amazon’s antioxidant-rich açaí berry, topped with a variety of superfoods – announced the opening of its café in Smithtown. The new franchise location will be the first in New York and the first for Marlene Durai, who plans to open two additional cafés on Long Island.  

“For fellow Long Islanders who are looking for healthy, great tasting food options, Vitality Bowls is going to be a major game-changer,” said Durai, who is also a certified Pilates instructor. “Vitality Bowls is unlike any other fast-casual eatery option in Smithtown. I can’t begin to describe the excitement I have to be pairing together my passions for wellness and business to open the first New York café.”

Slated to open on October 5, the new restaurant is located at 96 E. Main St. in Smithtown. The new restaurant will be the first Vitality Bowls location in New York, joining the 43 locations based nationwide.  Delivery and catering will also be available along with easy ordering using Vitality Bowl’s mobile app.

Originating in Northern California, Vitality Bowls has solidified itself as America’s superfood café – combining a dynamic, trendy café vibe with a unique collection of menu items containing high nutritional values and extraordinary tastes. Vitality Bowls offers an antioxidant-rich menu, with breakfast, lunch and dinner items made to order for each customer. All açaí bowls and smoothies do not contain ingredient fillers such as ice, frozen yogurt, added sugar or artificial preservatives, giving the purest taste possible. 

The menu features a variety of options, such as the Energy Bowl (with organic açaí, goji berries and bee pollen), the Dragon Bowl (featuring organic pitaya, coconut milk and bananas) and their signature Vitality Bowl (with organic açaí, strawberries and honey). Additionally, the brand recently debuted Egg Panini made with organic, cage-free eggs and Superfood Waffles. Plus, fresh juices, soups, panini and salads are available in each café.

The eatery will also include a full-service organic coffee bar, complete with espresso and superfood drinks that are packed with antioxidant-rich açaí, pitaya and matcha – for example, the Açaí Latte (espresso, açaí, coconut sugar, steamed almond milk) or the Superfood Mocha (espresso, CaCoCo superfood chocolate blend, steamed milk). Organic kombucha in a variety of flavors will also be available on-tap.

“We created Vitality Bowls to be a place where health-conscious individuals can go for a nutritional meal,” said Tara Gilad, founder and owner of Vitality Bowls. “We believe that healthy, great tasting food can be an option for fast casual food and we are excited to have Marlene introduce the brand in New York. We look forward to seeing her grow her business on Long Island and sharing the Vitality Bowls message with the community.”

Since launching in 2011, the brand has ignited significant growth. In 2014, the concept began franchising and now has nearly 70 locations open and in development across the country. 



What's Cookin'? - Smithtown Up In Smoke BBQ

UP in Smoke BBQ – Deliciously Local BBQ

By Nancy Vallarella, What’s Cookin’? – Smithtown

Tom Lawlorjeff MyersBy day, Jeff Myers and Tom Lawlor are local businessmen servicing Smithtown’s automotive industry Monday through Friday, for the past three decades.  In the evening and on the weekends, the two turn Pit Bosses serving up the most hometown, lip smacking, finger licking good BBQ available in these here parts.

Up in Smoke BBQ was conceived in Myers’ Saint James backyard by two cousins tinkering around with a sauce for wings. “My cousin, Larry Teta was a chemist employed by Estee Lauder. He loved to experiment and mix ingredients together.  Our sauce recipe is Larry’s. With his early passing in 2014, there are only two people in this world who know the secret ingredient that makes the sauce like no other” Myers reveals. 

In 2006, Up in Smoke was founded and then incorporated in 2009. Up in Smoke BBQ Sauce was bottled and during this time Tom Lawlor jumped on board and began getting inquiries for catering private parties and promotional events at local auto dealerships. Myers and Lawlor turned a hobby of competing in BBQ competitions (People’s Choice Award winners) into a part-time business that now employees nineteen. 

“Word of mouth grew the business from our neighbor’s yards and tailgate parties to school picnics, block parties, graduations…We have catered every kind of outdoor event” commented Lawlor. Up in Smoke BBQ looks forward to the 3rd annual cookout event at Whisper Vineyards in Saint James. 

Myers and Lawlor have been giving business to other local businesses by purchasing their proteins from Mercep Brothers Meats and baked goods from Gargiulio’s Bakery both located in Saint James. Up in Smoke BBQ is there to help raise funds for the Smithtown Children’s Foundation annual tasting event, Community Table and Adam Harris’s, Fifty Bags of Chips.

Earlier this spring they took over the little red shack once occupied by Ocean’s Bounty Seafood and Saint James Claws on 25A in Saint James. An increase in orders with larger quantities made the facility at 415 North Country Road an ideal place to expedite catering orders. Myers reports, “We found large orders like feeding athletes and fans (Stony Brook vs. Yale Lacrosse) required more space. It is an ideal location for our business. This season, we will use the space to cook and meet customers by appointment for their BBQ catering needs. Next season we hope to have a retail business here with outdoor picnic tables.”

As you pass by, look for halos of smoke billowing over that little red shack pushed back off the roadside on 25A and take a deep breath of mouth-watering aromas. Up in Smoke BBQ does not fool around.  Some of their specialties include Whole Roasted BBQ Pig, Marinated London Broil, Smoked Ribs and Pulled Pork. They also accommodate those who prefer fish and veggies. Sides like Mac-n-Cheese with Bacon, slaw, salads, Soft Pretzels with Cheese Sauce, and desserts round out a menu that is sure to please everyone.

Give them a call 631-834-2246, 631-278-0728 or view their website at http://www.upinsmokebbqinc.com