The ultimate guide to winter dining on Long Island

Oconee East Diner (749 Main St., Islip): Chef Bill Thompson is in charge of this eatery’s eye-catching holiday exhibits. Above every table and every stand is every combination of giant Christmas balls, artificial poinsettias, snowflakes and shooting stars. And while the sight of full-slope decor is an annual experience, there are also updates to look forward to – such as the 12-foot skeleton standing outside wrapped in a string of glowing pearls and wearing a Santa hat. It is accompanied by an explosive Grinch and an inflatable “Minion”. “We only got the skeleton in the last week before Halloween,” explains owner Spiro Karagiannis, “and kids really love it.” For the first two years, the dining room was open, Karagiannis says, he hired a decorator. When this person retired, Karagiannis bought his decorations and Thompson took over. Each year, he spends about $ 1,000 rebuilding the screens that come down after Little Christmas. More info: 631-581-2663,

Robkes (427 Fort Salonga Rd., Northport): This year-round Italian restaurant is not only a solid offering of red snapper alforno, pork chop martini or celebrities, but at this time of year it is a solid offering of a festive dining experience, too. Oversized bundles of illuminated garlands along the front of the self-contained building, where you can dine inside in a relaxed atmosphere, or walk to the heated tent to get an over-the-top tent. Here you will find an abundance of fresh and fake hanging flowers and ornaments, life-size nutcrackers and Santa Claus statues scattered throughout the room. Experience it until February. More info: 631-754-9663,

The icing (46L Gerard St., Huntington): This five-month-old ice cream shop has turned into a pink and purple fantasy land for winter – with lines of silver and gold. “We do not allow red and green in here,” said owner Christine Cairo. Until at least January, your next homemade ice cream sundae is available under a ceiling of pink French silk ribbons and snowflakes. More than a handful of trees are set up throughout the room, along with festive lighting, glitter reindeer and disco balls. . More info: 631-673-1100,

View (3 Consuelo Pl., Oakdale): As you step into this fine riverfront restaurant, nestled between the Connetquot River and a residential area of ​​Oakdale, you are greeted by snow-dusted trees covered in seashells and starfish. It’s “simple yet stunning,” general manager Joe Scalice said of the classic rustic-meets-nautical decor. For more than 35 years, a professional designer has been called in to decorate each of the restaurant’s premises. Illuminated garlands drape elegantly throughout the tea room, which has a sushi bar, waterfalls and two fireplaces. The main dining room overlooking the bay is highlighted with frosted trees and vintage lanterns, among other decorations. Customers can expect that the seafood place by the water will carry its festive theme until 6 January. More info: 631-589-2694,

Buckram Stables Cafe (31 Forest Ave., Locust Valley): Walk the slopes, no skiing required, at this cozy restaurant transformed into a winter wonderland with a moving miniature ski lift that stretches halfway across the back of the dining room. It’s all part of the main attraction: a cloak that sits above the restaurant’s stalls and welcomes you as you enter the establishment. A small ski village is located on the top decorated with several artificial trees, snow and small huts. The exterior of the restaurant is also decorated with 48-inch wreaths hanging from the cafe’s front windows, along with garlands, plants and holiday lights. More info: 516-671-3080,

Joey’s place (84 New York Ave., Huntington): This classic Italian eatery offers about $ 3,000 in festive wreaths and ribbons around the dining room. The restaurant’s 25-foot fire-retardant Christmas tree has also returned to the terrace. Decorations will remain until January 6th. More info: 631-271-2253;

Milleridge (585 N. Broadway, Jericho): This Jericho rootstock has more space than most – 12 acres – to dress for Christmas. In November, an in-house staff of about 20 spent almost two weeks hanging wreaths on each window (about 150); place about 600 poinsettias around the plot; fasten tailor-made, luminous figures throughout the adjoining walk-through village; and hang a few hundred thousand holiday lights. Before officially turning on the switch for the season, its president, Butch Yamali, says he sent a drone up to get a full view of the village to make sure it was visible from nearby roads. All in all, he says he spent about $ 80,000 on the lavish exhibit this season, and attendees can also look forward to a resort town, North Pole express train ride, holiday-related activities and karaoke. More info: 516-931-2201,

BK Sweeney’s Uptown Grille (636 Franklin Ave., Garden City): For more than 20 years, manager Lysa Jaramillo has been decorating the pub the weekend before Thanksgiving. This year, Jaramillo and “her goblins” (three colleagues) spent two full days hanging more than 15,000 candles throughout the pub. Illuminated spiral Christmas trees and sweets are at the main entrance. Inside the restaurant, garlands lie along the entrances and trim the bar; wreaths abound. Above the bar is a Victorian village. Jaramillo recycles much of the decorations, which will be up until mid-January. “It’s festive. Cozy,” Jaramillo said. More info: 516-746-3075,

Uncle Bacala (2370 Jericho Tpke., Garden City): Italian food is the main event here, but when the holidays come, the focus shifts to decor, which starts in the restaurant’s foyer with a life-size Santa Claus surrounded by fake gifts. Inside, owner Peter Hewitson and his staff dress the entire restaurant – a decorated Christmas tree welcomes guests on arrival; oversized, illuminated wreaths along the window panels; and banded garlands, nutcrackers and small trinkets can be found everywhere in the eatery. Uncle Bacala’s also brings his “Winter Wonderland” outdoors for the second year, where guests can sit under a tent or in heated igloos surrounded by tall plants decorated for the holidays. More info: 516-739-0505,

The Snapper Inn Waterfront Restaurant (500 Shore Dr., Oakdale): The owners owe their Eastern European ancestry to the inn’s 30-year tradition of hanging not just ornaments, but an entire tree – upside down – in the Oakdale eatery. It takes about four employees to place the 6-foot-tall artificial tree in the Connetquot River dining room, named after the riverbank the restaurant sits on, and two to decorate it, said general manager Kerry Blanchard. Decorations go up the week before Thanksgiving and come down just after New Year. Apart from the tree that turns upside down, fresh garland stands along the exterior of the restaurant, entrance, walkways and bar area. A 14-foot artificial tree stands in the main dining room, and more than 100 poinsettias are located throughout the 10,000-square-foot space. More info: 631-589-0248,

The Irish Coffee Pub (131 Carleton Ave., East Islip): The natural colors of this place lend themselves to the holiday season, says owner and operator Stephen Mahood. “We want it to be simple, subtle, elegant,” while embracing the holiday season, he says. To find that balance, the South Shore restaurant enlists the help of a former employee, Debbie McGorry, along with her assistant Liz Gorrasi, to decorate the entire 12,000-square-foot space with fresh wreaths indoors and outdoors and poinsettias on all tables. Each year, The Irish Coffee Pub adds a few more details while maintaining a discreet style. The biggest expense is the exterior lighting, which greatly contributes to the $ 10,000 decoration tab. More info: 631-277-0007,

Eric’s Italian bistro (70 E. Old Country Rd., Mineola): This Italian restaurant lights up Old Country Road with a heavily decorated 150-pound wreath, illuminated stars and some costumed garlands and evergreen potted plants. Inside, there are more than 150 decorations, including hanging ornaments, wreaths, bows, trees, garlands and other (mostly handmade) pieces, specially designed by chef and owner George Echeverria’s wife Fanny. More info: 516-280-5675,


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