2007-07-25 / Restaurant of the Week


35-15 36th Street (off 35th Ave.) Long Island City 718.433.0690
By Teresa Barile

By Teresa Barile

Escape the summer heat at Island Restaurant and Lounge, a veritable oasis of cool comfort. Silky white curtains surround the serene interior of this bi-level restaurant composed of white stone walls, white tables and chairs fitted with cucumber green cushions. The overall feeling is sultry and relaxing and you deserve to spend a splendid evening there with friends or family.

          The amiable owners, Tim Pappas and Dino Siamas, who have years of experience in the hospitality industry, invite you to relax and unwind while you enjoy exotic cocktails from the Island bar. Island-tinis include "Melony," a concoction of fine organic vodka shaken with fresh melon juice that instantly improves your mood. "Maha Rose" is vodka shaken with rose scented sherbet, topped with rose petals for an indulgence you deserve and can afford. An extensive wine list includes vintages from France, Italy, Greece, Spain and the U.S., starting at $28.

Island Restaurant and Lounge prepares world class cuisine that you simply will not find at area restaurants, all at affordable prices. Executive Chef, Dan Morales created a menu that he describes as "sexy" to go along with the sultry ambience of the restaurant. The Mediterranean cuisine changes seasonally to optimize the freshest ingredients available and no expense is spared when ordering the highest quality meat, fish and produce. After refreshing cocktails, we began our culinary journey with a bowl of fresh mussels in an aromatic saffron sauce. The mussels were gently removed from the shell to allow the diner to concentrate on the wonderful flavors of the tender mussels and delicate sauce ($12). Tuna sashimi still retains the flavor of the ocean and is dressed in chili, ginger and cucumber for a light and delicious appetizer ($11). The freshest seafood is grilled to perfection and tossed with roasted corn, spicy arugula salad and cool cucumbers, making this the perfect summer dish. From the land, rich mushroom soup gets extra flavor from duck confit and cheese dumplings. My goat cheese gnocchi provided a generous serving for two to share, and was topped with smoked pulled pork and black truffles ($12). Roman artichoke hearts are delicately fried and seasoned with coarse salt, accompanied by mint and parsley aioli for dipping ($9).

The friendly staff swiftly whisks away the beautiful dishes after each course and replaces your silverware for the next. Entrées change seasonally, but always include at least half a dozen items from the land and sea respectively. Right now, the tuna is magnificent. Please order it rare to fully appreciate its freshness and high quality, and you will need only a butter knife to cut through this beautiful steak encrusted in cumin. A lobster pancake sits just below the picturesque tuna, and

a puddle of carrot reduction and diced carrots swirls on the plate and completes the eye dazzling palette ($26). Roasted red snapper is crisp outside, tender and flaky inside, served with roasted potatoes, cherry tomatoes with a dollop of oregano pesto and parmesan ($25). Lobster risotto is a very popular dish due to its creamy texture achieved after hours of simmering with rich lobster stock and herbs.

New Zealand rack of baby lamb gets a Mediterranean kick from lamb Merguez sausage, potato cakes scented with rosemary and mint chutney. Roasted duck breast is rarely executed this well, cooked to retain all its juices and served with ginger spaghetti squash and a touch of Asian flavor. If you prefer to keep it simple, Islandís prime aged sirloin steak rivals that of fine steak houses, served with parmesan mashed potatoes and sweet onions. Even organic chicken is made special here, with vegetable risotto and green beans ($20). Desserts include individual vanilla bean cheesecake and a modern take on baklava, and the coffee tastes like it comes straight out of a European café.

After dinner, or for cocktails and music, sneak upstairs and find a cozy nook for quiet conversation. You may dine upstairs too, overlooking the spacious dining room below, and private parties may be arranged as well. Thursday nights feature live jazz and on weekends, the d.j. spins relaxing lounge music for your enjoyment. A central sofa is set with dozens of pillows as sheer curtains surround it from above. Island Restaurant and Lounge opened last March and is already creating a buzz in the neighborhood. They are open 7 nights a week for dinner and cocktails. During the week the kitchen is open until 11pm and the bar until 2am. On the weekends, the kitchen remains open until midnight and the bar until 4am for your pleasure. Stop in soon for cocktails and appetizers at the bar, or a full, world class Mediterranean style meal at affordable prices. My words alone do not do this establishment justice, so I urge you to see and enjoy Island Restaurant and Lounge for yourself for the fabulous food and friendly service in a casual, relaxing setting.


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