By Kimberly Brown
Long Island Restaurant Week has created a new spin on its yearly week-long dining event — but this year takeout will be the focus due to the precautions of COVID-19.
The event is running from Jan. 24 through 31 and select restaurants will feature a $25, $35 or $42 three-course prix fixe available for takeout. Customers are still allowed to dine in if they choose to do so.
Steve Haweeli, president of LIRW, emphasized the importance of the changes made for the event this year.
“This campaign stresses takeout,” he said. “It’s safer from a COVID-19 standpoint, and allows restaurants to save tables for those who dine in.”
One of the four participating restaurants in Port Jefferson is Pasta Pasta, a popular Italian trattoria that is offering the three-course prix fixe for $35. Owner, Debra Bowling, said one of the good things to come out of the pandemic was the loyalty from her customers, and knowing the support she has from them.
“The customers would come up to order takeout and say, ‘Are we helping? Are you OK?’” she said.
Bowling added that at the beginning of the pandemic, customers would visit the restaurant and give money to the workers in the kitchen because they knew their hours were cut.
“It’s so overwhelming,” she said. “Sometimes I get choked up. It’s a very warm feeling.”
Some of her customer’s favorites include the tortelloni stuffed with six cheeses, filet mignon, wasabi calamari and the bacon-wrapped shrimp.
“We have customers that come in for the same thing every week,” Bowling added. “It’s so funny — it never changes.”
Wave Seafood & Steak and The Club a Public Steakhouse, are also participating in LIRW. While both are operated by Crest Hospitality, the restaurants have their own ambience.
Wave Seafood overlooks the marina, and The Club a Public Steakhouse is located on a cliff over-looking the Long Island Sound. Both spots will be offering the $35 three-course prix fixe for take-out or dine in as well.
Michael Lang, vice president of food and beverage with Crest Hospitality, explained the attributes that he considers make his restaurants stand out.
“Three simple reasons — the food, the service and the views.” he said, “We provide a great experience for people who come, and for $35 this is a great opportunity if you haven’t been to our restaurants before.”
Learning to roll with the punches of the pandemic, both restaurants also provide enclosed, heated, outdoor seating. Wave Seafood offers insulated igloos to rent, which are located on the deck.
“Every day you learn something new,” Lang said. “You learn to manage day-to-day and go with the flow to make it work as best as you can, and we have had a lot of good successes come out of that.”
Ruvo East is the fourth Port Jefferson restaurant joining The Club, Wave and Pasta Pasta with a $35 prix-fixe menu.
To see menus or find other restaurants across Long Island participating, visit www.longislandrestaurantweek.com.