Lifestyle Magazine

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Spider Bite’s founder and brewmaster Larry Goldstein says his beer has developed a loyal following.

By Steve Mosco

Personality goes a long way, even in beer. Far removed from the stale sameness of big-name beer companies, micro- and nanobreweries throughout Long Island are offering unique options to the brew drinker who craves more than watered-down sips from cold-activated, color-changing cans.

It’s no secret that Long Island is overflowing with craft breweries. What craft beer devotees may not know is how much work — and ingredients — go into keeping breweries afloat and churning out dynamic, foamy goodness. It’s more than just the expected barley, hops, water and yeast. Brewmasters must employ peppery grains and floral bouquets, enlivening fruits and balancing bitterness along with equal measures of patience, flexibility and plenty of capital.

Born in basements and garages, with and without spousal approval, homespun ale artistry on the Island often froths forward from conversations over really bad beer. Those initial beer-side chats about the betterment of the drinker’s experience sometimes morph into a far grander dream of bringing beer brewed with care to the masses.

Port Jeff Brewing Company has grown an enthusiastic following, especially on the local level. Beer drinkers in Port Jefferson hoist the brewery’s offerings with a healthy dose of local pride, and crowd the brewery’s tasting room, open daily from noon to 8 p.m., along with brew followers from beyond town limits. The brewery also hosts free tours every Saturday at 4 p.m., where visitors learn about the brewing process for popular Port Jeff beers like Schooner Pale Ale, Port Jeff Porter and more.

The Port Jeff Brewing Company has many different beers to choose from. Photo by M. Furman
The Port Jeff Brewing Company has many different beers to choose from. Photo by M. Furman

“For the first few years, it was just a hobby that was cool,” said Michael Philbrick, who went from 10-year home brewing hobbyist to head brewmaster at Port Jeff Brewing Company in 2011. “When we first opened, there were no breweries even close to here. Now there seems to be another five every few years.”

All of these breweries are proving to be a financial boon to New York State. According to a report released in April by the New York State Brewers Association and the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, the craft beer industry in the state grew 59 percent from 2013 to 2014 — with a total economic impact estimated at $3.5 billion.

But even with those growing numbers and the industry’s popularity with imbibers, Philbrick said the craft beer industry only accounts for a small shred of the market share on Long Island — domestic juggernauts and foreign imports still rule the cooler.

“Of all the beers on the Island, you’re looking at a very small share of the market for craft brews,” he says. “Amazingly, there is still room to grow.”

Philbrick believes this produces a healthy amount of camaraderie among brewmasters on Long Island. They all want each other to survive and thrive in this industry.

“We all do the same events and deal with the same people,” he says. “And we all got into this for the same reason: the love of beer. We learn about the business from each other and we do group purchasing of equipment. I ran out of bottles once and the guys at Great South Bay [Brewery] helped me out. And I know they’ll call me for a certain hop or grain.”

Port Jeff has also worked with Spider Bite Beer Company, a fledgling brewery out of Holbrook. Spider Bite’s founder and co-owner, Larry Goldstein, agreed with Philbrick that it makes no sense to undercut other local breweries in order to get ahead. Goldstein routinely works with Barrage Brewing Company in East Farmingdale, participating in tap takeovers at bars together and lending each other equipment.

“We’re only going to survive if we cooperate,” he said. “This business is way too expensive to be selfish.”

When Goldstein first decided to back out of his chiropractic practice in favor of the brew life, he was floored by the sheer amount of operational expenses. But he pushed through, buying equipment fit for a laboratory, kegs and key ingredients to achieve some truly remarkable flavor profiles.

“It’s a huge investment even to just get started,” he says. “You have to buy all the equipment, all the kegs, the ingredients. And everything is expensive. It’s insane.”

The insanely enticing flavors of Goldstein’s Boris the Spider Russian Imperial Stout, Rophenia Belgian Quad and more are available to imbibe at Spider Bite’s Holbrook tasting room, open Thursdays, 4 to 8 p.m.; Fridays, 3 to 8 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 4 p.m.

Even considering the sky-high cost involved in the production of beer, each brewmaster says they would rather work their fingers to the bone and push their bank accounts to the brink doing what they love than anything else. Obstacles often stand in the way — a busted septic tank here, an uncooperative municipality there — but most brew heads learn to roll with problems in order to get their product to the public.

Michael Philbrick, founder and owner of Port Jeff Brewing Company. Photo by M. Furman
Michael Philbrick, founder and owner of Port Jeff Brewing Company. Photo by M. Furman

For Jamie Adams, founder of Saint James Brewery, this is no vanity project. There is purpose behind all of this hard work and investment. Established in 2012, Saint James is a New York State farm-certified brewery that creates Belgian-inspired ales in a farm-to-pint initiative. Culling fresh ingredients like apricots, raspberries, barley and select spices from local farms, including Condzella’s Farm in Wading River, Adams and his wife and co-owner Rachel are getting back to the roots of beer making.

“We want the customer to understand and appreciate the value of a locally brewed product,” said Adams. “For us, it’s all about Long Island. Whether it’s fruit farmers on the East End or honey farmers or local barely, the goal is to enlighten people and help appreciate the value of working with local raw materials.”

A former clerk in the New York Stock Exchange, Adams is a self-taught brewer and meticulous worker. Those days on Wall Street are a distant memory, but his worker-bee mentality has remained intact. He now focuses on raising his standards with every batch of farmhouse Belgian ale.

“Chances are when someone is drinking our beer, they are having it for the first time. So each batch we make has to be perfect,” says Adams. “This is a higher calling for me. The agricultural economy is so important to everything we do. And if it grows, it can help this island tremendously. It’s not cost effective for all brewers to use locally grown ingredients, but we want to get to the point where that is the norm.”

Adams wants the emboldening medley of flavors so singular to craft beer to change the mind-set of beer drinkers and distributors. And like his beer-brewing brethren, he wants to pop the cap on the craft industry’s share of the Island’s beer market.

He envisions a time when local craft breweries can claim 20 percent of the market — a monumental task that actually seems achievable when comparing the charisma and personality of craft brew to the demoralizing drudgery of mass-produced beer.

“Our job as brewers is to work together to get bar owners to put more craft beers on tap,” he says. “I believe if you give consumers a local option, they will take it. And that is how we grow this business.”

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By Bob Lipinski

Beer, one of the world’s great social lubricants, is ideal for celebrating Father’s Day, or any other day for that matter. Beer is a generic term for all alcoholic beverages that are fermented and brewed from malted barley — other ingredients can be used such corn and rice — hops, water and yeast. Beer is subdivided into two distinct categories — ale and lager.

bob-lipinski-beer-wAle is fermented fast and warm, producing richly flavored beers with a slightly darker color than lager beer. Ale usually has more hops in its aroma and taste, and is often lower in carbonation than lager-type beers. It is usually bitter to the taste, with a slight tanginess, although some ale can be sweet. Ale is originally from England, where it is referred to as bitters. Some examples of ale are brown, pale, scotch, Belgian, Trappist, stout and porter.

Lager is fermented slow and cool, producing delicately flavored beers. It was developed in Germany around the 15th century. The Germans first introduced it into the United States in 1840, in Philadelphia, through a Bavarian brewer named John Wagner. Lager comes from the German word lagern — to store — and is applied to bottom-fermented beer in particular because it must be stored at low temperatures for a prolonged time. Lagers were traditionally stored in cellars or caves for completion of fermentation. They are bright gold to yellow in color, with a light to medium body, and are usually well carbonated. Unless stated otherwise, virtually every beer made in the United States is a lager. Some examples of lager are pilsner, bock (including doppelbock, eisbock, maibock), märzen/fest beer, Vienna style, dortmunder, Munich helles and pale lager.

Beer, a most versatile beverage, can also be used in cooking in place of wine in most recipes.

Cooking suggestions: Replace the wine with beer in your favorite marinade for chicken, pork, beef, turkey, or even lamb. When making a flour, water and egg batter for frying foods, such as eggplant or zucchini, substitute beer for the water. For seafood pasta with shellfish, like shrimp, scungilli or calamari, cooked in tomato sauce, add a bottle of dark beer and some hot pepper flakes for increased flavor and texture.

Bob’s Beer Bread
3 cups self-rising flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 12-ounce bottle of your favorite beer — not light — at room temperature
1/4 cup butter, melted
Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Sift flour and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add the beer and continue to stir until dough no longer sticks to sides of bowl (about 1 minute). Put dough into a lightly greased and floured 9” x 5” loaf pan. Bake at 375°F for 1 hour or until golden brown. Spread melted butter over the top of the bread during the last 10 minutes of baking. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 -20 minutes before slicing.

This Father’s Day, sit down with dad and enjoy a frosty cold one.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written nine books, including “Italian Wine Notes” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple,” available on amazon.com. He can be reached at boblipinski.com or Bob@HIBS-USA.com.

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Photo by Katherine Link of R.J.K. Gardens, Inc.

Picture this: the sun is setting. You’re sitting by a small waterfall that empties into a pristine pond. The campfire is roaring in the background. Someone is barbecuing up a storm.

It feels like you’ve escaped. But you’ve merely stepped outside your home.

Furnishing outdoor spaces is an increasingly popular home improvement trend on Long Island, according to Richard Kuri, president of St. James-based R.J.K Gardens Inc. Lately, homeowners are installing things like fire pits, synthetic golf greens, horseshoe pits, bocce courts and more, to create spaces to live and play in.

It’s not a new movement, but one that has gained momentum over the last five years or so. The most popular items tend to be fire pits and outdoor kitchens, said Kuri in a recent interview. Other intriguing elements include outside heaters, water-resistant couches, flat-screen TVs, waterfalls and ponds stocked with fish. The idea of creating “serenity spaces” is also big — Kuri said his company recently converted a wooded area rife with bramble that was an eyesore at a condo complex in Hauppauge into a meandering path with benches and a gazebo. “For the people who live at these condos, it’ll be a destination, a place for people to relax,” he said.

Stock photo
Stock photo

Some of these popular outdoor space furnishings can be found in do-it-yourself form at your local home improvement store. One of the simpler items, the fire pit, comes in a kit nowadays, Kuri said — easy enough for the average handy person to assemble. Do-it-yourself fire pit kits could run up to about $900, he said.

Marc Weinstein, the maintenance manager of Owens Brothers Landscape Development in Baiting Hollow, is seeing an increase in demand from clients for outdoor LED lighting, including lights that can illuminate a pathway, or shine up or down from trees. He said he thinks the reason for the increase in demand is because people want to enjoy their outdoor spaces for longer periods of time once the sun sets.

It’s also not a budget-breaking improvement. Outdoor lighting is something one could also find at a local home improvement store, Weinstein said. “I would say that places like the Home Depot and Lowe’s, I think they’re making it more, the word sexy, to have these kinds of things, and more affordable, to have these kinds of things,” Weinstein said in a recent interview.

Kuri feels the rise of outdoor living spaces stems from when the economy crashed around 2008 and 2009. That’s when outdoor-living home improvements really ramped up because people who would have normally dropped big money on vacations decided instead to pour it in to their homes and create a “staycation” getaway.

“I think that the phrase ‘getting back to nature,’ the fact that if you have nice weather or if you can enjoy nature and get outside [to] enjoy it, why not do it?” Kuri said. “It’s another destination — in your own yard.”

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By Susan Risoli

Acupuncture might be a health care system that works for you. It’s relaxing. It can give you more energy. Acupuncture treatments promote wellness and healing.

The World Health Organization has published a long list of conditions that acupuncture treats effectively. (“Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials.”) The list includes various types of pain, including headache and back pain,  depression, stress and side effects of chemotherapy.

Because Chinese medicine embraces several components, your acupuncturist will offer more than just acupuncture. He or she may be a practitioner of herbal medicine. It’s likely that they will talk to you about healthy exercise, such as tai chi or qigong — and these are activities they probably have done themselves. He or she might give you nutritional guidance. He or she may also be trained in massage or Asian bodywork — Tui na and Amma are examples. For thousands of years, these ways of healing have helped people, so you may want to ask your acupuncturist how you can learn more about these modalities.

How do you find a licensed acupuncturist? Like you would any other professional: ask around among your friends. Chances are you already know someone who’s been treated with Chinese medicine. Your medical doctor, chiropractor or massage therapist also may know a good acupuncturist. Or you can check the practitioner listings on the websites of the Acupuncture Society of New York, www.asny.org), or the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, www.NCCAOM.org. Be aware that in New York state, licensed acupuncturists are independent practitioners, and you will not need a doctor’s referral to start acupuncture treatment. The websites mentioned give information about the training and credentials necessary to practice acupuncture. Your health insurance might or might not cover acupuncture treatments; you’ll need to discuss it with your practitioner.

Acupuncture itself involves insertion of very thin, flexible needles, at specific places on the body. The guiding principle of acupuncture is that the places where the needles are inserted — acupuncture points — help the body direct and adjust the energy that is flowing through your organ systems. This energy is called qi (pronounced “chee.”) Acupuncture supports your body and helps it work better so that underlying diseases and their symptoms can be treated effectively.

So what is a typical acupuncture treatment like? During the first appointment, you’ll fill out some paperwork, as you would at any medical visit. Your practitioner will perform a thorough intake and health history. He or she may ask questions you’ve never been asked, or even thought about before. That’s because, in Chinese medicine, many aspects of the body and its functions give clues about the patient’s overall health. The acupuncturist will look closely at your tongue, and feel your pulse at several places on each wrist. The appearance of your tongue, the quality and speed of your pulses, and the questions you answer all give clinical information that will help the acupuncturist plan your course of treatment. If you have questions about Chinese medicine, or your specific treatment, your acupuncturist is there to listen. He or she will be happy to discuss it with you.

Susan Risoli is an acupuncturist, a practitioner of herbal medicine and has been trained in Amma, a type of Asian bodywork.

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By Lisa Steuer

Getting into shape after giving birth can seem like a challenge. You may have gained a little more weight than you ever have before, you are not feeling your best, the baby is up all night and your to-do list has increased dramatically. But with the right support and plan of action, it is possible to not only lose the baby weight, but to get in even better shape than you were before giving birth.

Fit4Mom
One organization that is helping many moms get into shape is Fit4Mom, a franchise with more than 1,300 locations nationwide, said Britney Pagano, mom of two and founder of Fit4Mom Long Island.  In fact, many Long Island moms have lost 70 or 80 pounds with the program, according to Pagano.

Fit4Mom Long Island classes are held at Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park, Heckscher Park in Huntington and Belmont Lake State Park in North Babylon. There are also classes in Nassau. For the full schedule, visit http://nassauandsuffolk.fit4mom.com. Stroller Strides, which is Fit4Mom’s most popular program according to Pagano, is a “Mommy and Me” type class. The children sit in strollers while the moms go through a 60-minute stroller-based workout that combines intervals of cardiovascular and resistance training. The nationally certified class instructors incorporate songs and activities to keep the kids entertained.

But Fit4Mom is more than just fitness classes, said Pagano. It’s about connecting moms, making friends and finding support. In addition to workouts, there are playgroups and monthly moms-night-out events.

gal-getting-ready-w“A lot of moms have told me that our program specifically has really saved them from postpartum depression because it’s given them something to do,” said Pagano. “It was helping them lose weight and meet friends, and they didn’t have the guilt of leaving their child in someone else’s care so that they can do something for themselves.”

Tips for Success
In addition to attending Fit4Mom classes like Stroller Strides, here are some other tips for getting your body back after baby:

Consult your doctor.
Before you start any kind of fitness program, be sure to check with your doctor. He or she knows your individual situation and can advise you when it’s best for you to return to being active. In addition, your doctor may be able to suggest a personalized approach for you.

Find a little time when you can work out during the day.
Once you get the OK from your doctor to work out and do any kind of cardio activity, get in a few minutes here or there doing squats, push-ups, crunches, high knees, other bodyweight or cardio moves or a fitness DVD, even if you can only do a few minutes at a time. You don’t have to do the workout all at once for it to be effective. Just find the time when you can. Visit www.fitnessrxwomen.com/life-health/fit-moms for tons of at-home workouts for moms and more tips.

Get out and go for a walk.
Get outside! Get the stroller and bring baby along for a ride.

Work on building your at-home gym.
Since you may find it hard to get to the gym, there are a few items that are fairly inexpensive that can help you get a good workout right in your own home. Resistance bands, a medicine ball, dumbbells, a jump rope and a stability ball are a good start.

Listen to your body.
If your body is telling you that you need to sleep, and the baby is sleeping, then you should sleep, too. If your energy is lacking, it’s all the more reason to get into a good fitness regimen, because this can help your energy levels, said Pagano.

Fuel up.
You won’t be able to get back in shape if your diet is not in check. Make sure to take care of yourself with a balanced diet: drink plenty of water, eat plenty of fruits and veggies and get your protein. Pagano encourages her clients to find the one day a week where they can get to the grocery store — when there is someone to look after the child — and use that day to plan out all the meals for the week. Chop up all the vegetables and fruit and put into single serve bags. “This way, during the week when hunger strikes, you just have to look in the refrigerator and everything is already done and prepared for you.”

Make time for yourself.
“A lot of times, especially with new moms, we kind of get lost in that and taking care of the baby,” said Pagano.  “But make it a priority to take care of yourself.”

Lisa Steuer is the managing editor of FitnessRx for Women and FitnessRx for Men magazines. For more fitness tips, training videos and print-and-go workouts that you can take with you to the gym, visit www.fitnessrxformen.com and www.fitnessrxwomen.com.

Take a bite out of these waterside restaurants

The view at Louie’s in Port Washington. Photo from restaurant staff

Spring ushers in warmer weather and a thirst for the outdoors. And what better way to quench that thirst than by dining outside? Here are a few waterside restaurants to simultaneously satisfy your cravings for beautiful vistas and delicious food.

The Whales Tale
81 Fort Salonga Road, Northport
Only minutes from Northport Village is a small, locally-run restaurant that was created as a local hangout for families and friends. The Whales Tale is meant to be a place where you can grab a bite of quality seafood with a waterfront view without actually paying for a waterfront view. The restaurant brews its own beer, which is a popular item on the menu, as are a local rum punch and the Northport Rocket — a combination of a piña colada and a rum float. The tacos are the most popular item on the menu, especially during the now famous Taco Tuesday, which is a huge hit among locals.

The view at Danfords in Port Jefferson. Photo from restaurant staff
The view at Danfords in Port Jefferson. Photo from restaurant staff

Maple Tree BBQ
820 West Main Street, Riverhead
Maple Tree BBQ offers a taste of the south and is located across the street from the Peconic River. The restaurant serves authentic barbecue food in a fun and casual atmosphere. You can buy food by the pound or by the platter to go, and many customers do this routinely. Not only are there picnic tables set up in front of the Peconic River, but Maple Tree BBQ is also right near Tanger Outlets — making it a great place to grab a bite after shopping, or drop your husband off while you shop. They make their own sweet tea here —a popular item — as well as their pastrami and Cuban sandwich.

Rachel’s Waterside Grill
281 Woodcleft Avenue, Freeport
Situated on Freeport’s famous Nautical Mile,  Rachel’s Waterside Grill offers casual, family-friendly dining paired with delicious, always-fresh seafood and a terrific view. The menu at Rachel’s Waterside Grill is innovative and different, offering a new American cuisine that includes a large selection of fresh fish that can be prepared in a variety of styles, including Korean grilled, blackened, roasted and more, paired with many different types of toppings. The tuna is one of the most popular items on the menu, along with the mussels. There are quite a few favorite cocktails, including the Dark and Stormy, a Bali Punch — a passion fruit punch drink mixed with rum — and an Almond Soy Martini.

Wave Seafood Kitchen
25 E Broadway, Port Jefferson
Wave Seafood Kitchen, located inside Danfords Hotel and Marina, overlooks the Long Island Sound and is located on Port Jefferson’s harbor, one of Long Island’s busiest harbors. This family-friendly restaurant serves fresh seafood, with some of its most popular items including shrimp crab rolls, sea scallops and salmon burgers. You can enjoy dinner inside the restaurant, or on the outdoor deck, sipping cocktails like blackberry sangria, a passion fruit mojito or a large selection of Long Island wines. There’s also a selection of refreshing, non-alcoholic beverages, including raspberry iced tea and a frozen mint chocolate chip drink.

Louie’s Oyster Bar and Grill
395 Main Street, Port Washington
This restaurant, located on Manhasset Bay, offers one of the most beautiful views of the sunset on Long Island. Louie’s also offers boaters the ability to dock and dine for free. Louie’s is more than 100 years old and has undergone quite a few changes throughout its history. With a large selection of always-fresh seafood, items like their oysters tend to be the most popular on the menu. They get fresh oysters every day, and are constantly changing the type of oysters they serve. Their Maine and Connecticut lobster rolls are also popular — Maine rolls are served cold and Connecticut served hot. Louie’s also has a very successful mixologist on staff who designs seasonal cocktail menus, including favorite drinks like a winter sangria, and during the summer, a blood orange margarita.

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By Heidi Sutton & Ernestine Franco

After a winter punctuated with one snow or ice storm after another, it’s hard to believe that spring has finally arrived. Avid gardeners hibernating in their homes for what seemed like months have been keeping their spirits high by perusing the gardening catalogs for the latest plants and products, all the while patiently waiting for the ground to thaw.

In perfect timing, All-America Selections recently announced its list of new varieties of flowers and vegetables for 2015.  Names like Emerald Fire, Butterscotch, Jolt Pink, Dolce Fresca and Tidal Wave Red Velour are enough to get any gardener excited about trying something new.

Since 1932, this nonprofit organization has annually tested new varieties of flowers and vegetables in various locations throughout the United States and Canada. Judges look for improved qualities such as disease tolerance, early bloom or harvest dates, taste, unique colors and flavors, higher yield, length of flowering or harvest, and overall performance.

Here’s what the judges had to say about some of the award winners:

The Northeast can now plant entire gardens using these AAS winning varieties, all of which have been proven to have superior performance.

For a complete list of the new plants chosen by the AAS, as well as other information about the organization, visit their website at www.all-americaselections.org.

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Inferno Roadside Grill serves up a juicy cheeseburger in Mount Sinai this season. Photo by Lisa Steuer

By Lisa Steuer

A few years ago, most people would have defined a “food truck” as a vehicle parked on the side of the road that primarily sells hot dogs and is mostly appealing for the convenience it offers.

But today, many food truck operators around the country — and now, Long Island — are specialists in their profession. They are experienced chefs who have worked in kitchens for years, have food management experience, or who grew up learning about and appreciating mom’s authentic cooking. They are restaurant owners, wedding and party caterers and seasoned cooks and bakers who all have at least one thing in common — a passion and love for food and cooking.

Burgers by 25A
Patrick Trovato, a graduate of Port Jefferson high school and a current resident of Miller Place, has operated the Inferno Roadside Grill food truck since 2011. Located in Mount Sinai in the Agway parking lot, the Inferno Roadside Grill has built a following solely through word of mouth, said Trovato. Menu items include burgers, grilled chicken wraps, wings and more, and Trovato said he buys all the ingredients every morning, including the beef, which is ground fresh.

“I’ve only been able to do two things in my life — sales and cook,” said Trovato, who previously owned a New York City restaurant with his father and also worked in insurance.

You can spot Patrick Trovato’s truck, Inferno Roadside Grill in Mount Sinai this season. Photo by Lisa Steuer
You can spot Patrick Trovato’s truck, Inferno Roadside Grill in Mount Sinai this season. Photo by Lisa Steuer

Eventually, Trovato decided to leave the insurance industry and go back to his passion of cooking. He purchased an old camper for $500, and it took about four-and-a-half months to transform it into the food truck that exists today. Trovato did all his research, remodeled it, installed a commercial kitchen, made sure he met the proper codes and opened with help from his business partners — his girlfriend, and his friend Kevin, who owns Smithtown House of Vacuums.

“People can’t afford to risk or lose hundreds of thousands of dollars to open a restaurant. So the food truck is a small capital investment, comparatively,” said Trovato. “With a food truck, you can just be great at one thing. … A food truck just lets you be a specialist.”

The Inferno Roadside Grill is open year round, Monday through Saturday, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., weather permitting. This snowy winter, however, made it rough — from Thanksgiving through March, Trovato was not able to be open for a full week.

Looking forward, Trovato plans to open the Inferno Roadside Grill restaurant in Sound Beach by summer. The restaurant, which will be located at 245 Echo Avenue, will have the same menu currently available on the truck, expanded to include specialty “regional” burgers — burgers that are popular in different parts of the country — and possibly a Southern-fried chicken menu. When the restaurant opens, the truck will remain in operation, but the menu will most likely be pared down to strictly burgers and fries, while the other menu items will still be found at the restaurant.

“I have a special sauce on my burger,” said Trovato.  “When you take the fresh ground beef that’s been seared, seasoned, and you add the fresh crisp lettuce, tomato, onion, then you add the sauce, it’s a really unique flavor profile.”

Puerto Rico on Long Island
Roy and Kathleen Pelaez opened their Island Empanada restaurant in May 2011. There are now two locations, in Medford and Ronkonkoma, and two years ago the Island Empanada food truck opened.

Previously, the truck operated during the week, from May through October, off William Floyd Parkway in Shirley, but at press time, the location for this year was not yet determined. The Pelaezes also bring the truck to different events all over Suffolk and Nassau, including fairs, festivals, private parties and even weddings.

“We’re very unique,” said Roy Pelaez. ”And the food is Puerto Rican style, and there’s not a lot of Puerto Rican restaurants on Long Island.”

His mother and father were both born and raised in Puerto Rico. His wife, Kathleen Pelaez, works as a social worker in addition to working in the restaurants, and his daughters — one of whom is getting her master’s degree and the other her bachelor’s — also help out when they can.  “My mom taught me [to cook] and I was able to then teach the other cooks at both restaurants,” said Roy Pelaez, who also worked in and managed restaurants for more than 20 years before opening his own. “It’s the same food that I made in my kitchen, and I was able to just expand the menus to feed a larger amount of people, so it’s really home-cooked food.”

The Pelaezes opened the food truck to make attending festivals and other events much easier for them.

‘Long Island is behind … the rest of the country. Food trucks seem to be sweeping the nation right now. You can really get some good food — inexpensive, hand-held, quick and easy. And now, Suffolk and Nassau are starting to see it, and restaurant owners and entrepreneurs are trying to jump on it.’ — Roy Pelaez of Island Empanada

Since opening two years ago, the truck has done well, said Roy Pelaez, and even though the truck does make things easier, it is still a lot of work, he pointed out. “People just think they’re going to get a food truck and make a million dollars. It doesn’t work like that,” he said. “But the expenses are different.  … I don’t have the big utility bills.”

The Island Empanada restaurants include 26 varieties of empanadas, and the truck includes the 12 most popular varieties, as well as rice, beans, sweet plantains, potato balls, and flan for dessert.

“Long Island is behind a little bit the rest of the country. Food trucks seem to be sweeping the nation right now,” he said. “You can really get some good food — inexpensive, hand-held, quick and easy. And now, Suffolk and Nassau are starting to see it, and restaurant owners and entrepreneurs are trying to jump on it.”

The Mobile Bakery
Jess Kennaugh, owner of Blondie’s Bake Shop in Centerport, found her love for baking at a young age. “It was what I did for fun after school,” she said.

Then in high school, her first job was at A Rise Above Bake Shop in Huntington, her hometown. Kennaugh eventually went away to school, got a master’s degree in education and planned to become a teacher.  “I just always kept going back to the bakery. I couldn’t shake it.”

Blondie’s Bake Shop and the truck, which is used solely for events like fairs, weddings, caterings, etc., both opened in December of 2011. “I knew that food trucks were becoming more popular in the city and in places like Austin and D.C. and San Diego.  So I figured that it was only a matter of time before that happened on Long Island and I wanted to be a part of it.”

The truck has a full commercial kitchen, and in addition to the regular baked goods found in the bakery, there are waffles made to order on the truck — with berries and whipped cream, or chicken and waffles, for instance — as well as grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, and even a “macaroni and cheese grilled cheese.”

“It’s restaurant quality food in a laid-back atmosphere,” said Kennaugh, about the appeal of food trucks. “It makes fancier food more approachable.”

At the shop, the most popular item is a lemon berry scone, said Kennaugh, but on the truck a favored item is the s’mores pie — which is a little individual pie with a graham cracker crust, chocolate pudding and toasted marshmallow.

“I think the people can get a sense of our enthusiasm for our product,” said Kennaugh. “I have a really young, excited, creative staff, and that energy is contagious. And I think our product is quality; it’s really thoughtfully made and I think that shows. “

Compared to the bakery, the items on the truck are “a little more indulgent.”

A dinner plate prepared by Roy Pelaez of Island Empanada. Photo by Steve Mahoney
A dinner plate prepared by Roy Pelaez of Island Empanada. Photo by Steve Mahoney

“At the bakery, we sell granola and yogurt and egg sandwiches, so there are ways to get around splurging on what you’re going to eat,” said Kennaugh. “The stuff on the truck is much more indulgent — cheeses and bacon, and we really kind of go crazy with ourselves over there.”

This will be Blondie’s third season. And while Kennaugh was still working on the truck’s schedule at the time of this interview, she said she’s hoping she’ll have the truck out three or four days a week through the last week in October.

“We’re pretty excited because we’re being sought out for private events and more obscure events,” she said.

The Mobile Chef
Steven Mahoney of Amityville has operated his mobile catering business, Iron Mobile Chef, for two years.

“I’ve been in the food industry my whole life, since I was a little kid making pizza,” said Mahoney.  He owned a pork and gourmet food store for about 10 years, and also worked as a private chef on the East End of Long Island for about four years before getting into the food truck business.

“The food truck is a new, fun thing — it’s really great,” said Mahoney. “I did a lot of off-the-premise catering before I had the truck, and now it’s just like an extension — a kitchen I bring everywhere.”

Mahoney attends private parties and events as well as festivals all over Long Island, so the truck never stays in the same place. For bigger parties, Mahoney will bring a staff that includes family members to help out — brothers, sisters, aunts, cousins and more. “It’s like a mom and pop store on wheels,” he said.

The unique aspect of Mahoney’s truck is that the menu varies wherever he goes, depending on what’s wanted or appropriate at the particular event. “I can go from hot dogs and hamburgers to lobster tails and filet mignon,” Mahoney said. Items like Philly cheesesteaks and sausage and peppers are usually made for fairs, for instance. At the time of this interview, Mahoney had just finished doing a breakfast party.

“These awesome chefs that are dying to open their own place and they have a passion for cooking and it’s just a little too expensive to get their own restaurant — it’s like their dream come true, but a little bit cheaper,” said Mahoney, about the rise in popularity of food trucks. “It’s a lot more work than a restaurant, but if you have the passion for it, that’s what makes it worth it … I love it and I enjoy what I do. I can work 16-, 17-hour days … and I really love it.”

For those interested in renting Iron Mobile Chef for an event, Mahoney can be reached at (516) 351-5176.

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Glam-style living room, carefully designed by Port Washington-based Fox + Chenko Interiors. Photo from Fox + Chenko

Long Island is springing back to life, and Mother Nature isn’t the only one getting a makeover.

Just as April showers help give birth to May flowers, spring is giving life to some new looks inside homes — a focus on modernized glamour décor, with ice colors like white and gray becoming more popular, according to some Long Island designers.

From one designer’s perspective, the rise of glam could be signaling a shift in mood among the masses from depression to hope.

“I think that people are feeling optimistic,” said Daryl Pines, president of the Interior Design Society of Long Island — a group with membership of residential interior designers from across the Island. That could be largely financial — the economy’s bouncing back, some say, as the unemployment rate is currently the lowest it has been in several years. “We’ve been in a downturn [for] a long time and I think people just want better things in their lives. So if you think that people [want] to be home and make their own glamour, maybe they’re just saying, ‘Enough! I don’t want to be downtrodden anymore. I don’t want to be depressed. I want to make something glamorous at home.’”

Designer Jen Fox, co-owner of Fox + Chenko Interiors in Port Washington, said she has definitely noticed a “cleaner and sophisticated” look gaining popularity, and a “phasing out” from the early 2000s, where everything was warmer in color tones, like greens, olives, reds and mustards. She’s also noticed, along with the cleaner, sleeker look, a lot more texture in items like fabrics, rugs, wall coverings and mirrored surfaces. This inclusion of texture is taking the place of other items people might have in their homes, Fox said. “I think people are looking just maybe to live more simply in terms of the sheer volume of things to decorate with,” she added.

Designer Caroline Wilkes, of Merrick-based Caroline Wilkes Interiors made a similar observation.

“It is the details in design that are a key trend this spring, with a spotlight on surface texture,” Wilkes said in an email. “This embellishment can be found on anything from custom furnishings, window treatment fabrics and accessories. It is this attention to detail that shapes a decor into something very special and noteworthy, making a room feel personalized.”

As far as colors go, Pines said she’s noticed blue being of greater interest to clients, particularly to South Shore residents who are still in the process of rebuilding their homes after Hurricane Sandy destroyed them.

“They’re all water-based people and attracted to a little bit of that blue in what they’re doing,” she said.

Some popular pieces have taken on some modernized looks, according to Fox. For example, textured items like sisal rugs are taking the place of colorful Persian rugs that gained popularity years ago — where the pattern is emphasized more in the weave of the rug, versus the rug’s color. A wing chair, a more traditional piece, can be made into a more transitional item with a metallic look, Fox said, noting that metallic is big in the glam look.

Overall, there’s a return to the deeper tones and a greater saturation in color in this season’s looks, Pine said.

“It’s a happier feeling, but it’s juxtaposed against a very pale, [glam],” she said.

For more information, visit the Interior Design Society of Long Island’s website at www.idslongisland.org.

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Rich Zayas Jr. works his girlfriend’s tattoo. Photo by Chris Mellides

By Chris Mellides

The intermittent sound of buzzing machinery rattles off like machine gun fire, while guitar riffs and drum work pour from the sound system of the Inked Republic storefront at Westfield South Shore mall in Bay Shore.

Inked Republic is a retail store that doubles as a tattooing and piercing parlor owned and operated by Tattoo Lous — a company established in 1958 that has several shops scattered across Long Island.

Inside Inked Republic, apparel featuring tattoo-inspired designs sits on shelves and hangs from racks, and opposite them is an array of custom guitars that are proudly displayed on the far wall of the shop.

The work of Jay Mohl. Photo from Mohl
The work of Jay Mohl. Photo from Mohl

Just past a roped-off motorcycle emblazoned with skulls and a Lou’s company logo is the shop’s live tattooing area. The first of two work stations belongs to Rich Zayas Jr., a 36-year-old Long Beach native living in Bay Shore, who works for Tattoo Lou’s and who has been tattooing professionally for just under four years.

Zayas is of average height and has long hair tucked underneath a black baseball cap that he wears backwards. His loose-fitting, black T-shirt has an oversized print of some original artwork drawn by Dmitriy Samohin, an artist from Ukraine, that features a skull design with octopus tentacles.

He and his girlfriend, Melissa Ann White, make their way to his workstation, passing the front desk where the glow of warm neon lights casts a shimmering bright blue hue onto the piercing supplies and tattoo aftercare products shelved behind glass displays.

Zayas says that he started work on White’s back tattoo in 2012, and that it was finally time to finish it. The design: a Day of the Dead-themed sugar skull girl wearing a cowl.

As he begins prepping his station, Zayas reaches for the bottom shelf of his stickered tackle box to reveal a rainbow assortment of tattoo ink in the neighborhood of 200 bottles. “It’s totally normal for artists to have this much,” says Zayas.

A tattoo parlor operating inside a mall is a recent phenomenon. “Irish” Jay Mohl, 45, owns Irish Jay Tattoo in Miller Place and is an artist with 23 years tattooing experience. He recalls a different time when first getting his start in the industry back in 1992.

“When I first started, it was a completely different business; there was a different mentality and it was a very rogue profession,” says Mohl. “You had a whole different segment of people that came in here. They were drinking and crazy, and you had total outlaws coming in, and now it’s not crazy anymore; it’s very normal.”

Now that tattooing has gone mainstream, body art is no longer a choice of expression solely for outlaws and drunks with criminal records. People from all walks of life, who value the beauty of art and the freedom of self-expression, have made and continue to make the leap into body modification. With the practice having become more culturally accepted, more people are seeking quality artists, and the demand for custom tattoos has risen.

“[Tattooing] is so culturally accepted right now, it’s almost like a rite of passage,” said Mohl. “I think it’s become a new way of people expressing themselves, and with the popularity of it on TV and all the media and everything like that, it really has opened the door for a lot of people.”

Work by Lake Ronkonkoma tattoo artist Stacey Sharp. Photo from Sharp
Work by Lake Ronkonkoma tattoo artist Stacey Sharp. Photo from Sharp

Mohl isn’t alone, as more and more artists have noticed this trend and understand the changes affecting the industry as a whole.

Zayas understands this shift, and his employment at a retail and tattooing hub nestled in a shopping mall shows just how far the industry has come. Years ago, a mall would have been the unlikeliest of places to get tattooed, but things have undoubtedly changed, with artists adapting to new customer demands for convenience and greater accessibility.

“Being in the mall kind of closes that weird stigma gap in between things to where you can have the lady that’s shopping in Lord and Taylor or Macy’s come in and maybe have something that was done bad years ago…fixed or covered up,” Zayas said. “Or maybe [she can] get that first tattoo that she’s been petrified about forever.”

When it comes to the kind of art being tattooed, themes and the art itself range anywhere from lettering to hyperrealism. Deciding on the right design and its placement will always be dependent on the client’s tastes, personality and life experiences.

Stacey Sharp, a 42-year-old tattoo artist working at InkPulsive Custom Tattooing in Lake Ronkonkoma, said that people who get tattooed do so to express themselves and to connect with others, and sometimes certain events in a person’s life can heavily influence their choice in art.

“Life-changing experience I think is a big one — a birth, a death, something that’s profound,” says Sharp. “There are a lot of people that say, ‘I normally wouldn’t do this, but I feel like this is a momentous occasion and I have to keep that with me all of the time.’”

On the other hand, Sharp also acknowledged there are people who have always known what they’ve wanted to get tattooed.

“Other people, they know from a very young age like, ‘Hey, this is what I’m going to get done … and I know that I want to have these marks,’” said Sharp.

Now that spring is here, artists say that they expect a bump in business. And while the winter season sees serious collectors taking advantage of shorter wait times, the warmer weather allows people showing more skin a reason to flash some new ink.

“Summer and spring are always the biggest, and I think it’s just because people are showing more skin,” says Mohl. “It’s almost like they’re priming themselves all winter, working out in the gym … and it’s kind of like a new paint job on a car; people want to get it, and they want something to show.”

As far as tattoo tips are concerned, artists agree that researching a new artist or shop and planning ahead are things that customers should do before booking time in a chair to undergo a lengthy session.

“Don’t bite off more than you can chew; I get a lot of people that do that a lot,” Zayas said. “If you want to get a sleeve for your first tattoo, you totally can, but just find a decent artist that is going to work with you and design you a cool custom piece.”