JAPAN'S legendary Kobe beef is now available on Long Island. The Bryant & Cooper Steak House in Roslyn is the only Island restaurant offering this exclusive grade of beef.
Kobe or Wagyu beef, as the Japanese refer to it, comes from the world's most mollycoddled cattle. They drink beer and are massaged with sake.
The tender loving treatment results in extraordinarily flavorful and tender beef, but the price for this beautifully marbled perfection is wildly expensive.
Bryant & Cooper charges $75 for an a la carte 12-ounce Kobe sirloin steak. If that sounds preposterous, it might be of interest that the Old Homestead in Manhattan charges $100 for a slightly smaller Kobe steak with potato and salad.
Both Bryant & Cooper and the Old Homestead assert that, even at these prices, they make little profit on Kobe steaks. Although the Bryant & Cooper manager, Ken Cohn, declined to disclose how much the restaurant had paid for the 20 pounds it purchased initially from Balducci's in Manhattan, it is known that the food store is selling Kobe beef in Manhattan and by mail for $150 a pound.
Many readers might wonder if anybody really orders the steaks. They certainly do. Not only were a dozen or so consumed in the first week they were offered at Bryant & Cooper, but its regular customers also were the ones who suggested that they be put on the menu.
Reaction from the affluent eaters who have sampled Kobe steaks has been positive. It ranges from the predictable "like butter" to the widespread, "It's so rich, I could not have eaten more than 12 ounces."
Steady patrons who crave something different are most likely to order Kobe steaks. Understandably, not everyone is buying all this. Upon hearing the price and description of sake massages, more than one customer has said: "For $75, skip the steak. I'd rather take the rubdown."
One of Long Island's down-to-earth ethnic restaurants is a pasta heaven every Monday and Tuesday night. The restaurant, J & J Southside on Route 110 in Huntington Station, offers a choice of 11 pastas, along with a dinner plate-size salad and a bowl of soup, for $7.95.
With everybody from French to Brazilian bistros serving pastas and offering all-you-can-eat nights, these pasta nights at J & J Southside are in the nature of the Empire Strikes Back. That is because it is the real thing, a family owned and operated Italian restaurant.
There is a bar on one side with a stuffed fish on the wall, beer signs and not a tie, white shirt or suit in sight. In the dining room, beer, soda and sangria are served by the pitcher. Waitresses recommend dishes and promise, if you do not like the dish, they will take it back.
This is a no-credit card, no-nonsense gem. The sign outside proudly proclaims Italian-American restaurant.
But more about J & J's pastas, whose second helpings are on the house. The best of the bunch are the least complicated: penne arrabbiata, a light, spicy tomato sauce with a touch of cream and cheese, and a standby, spaghetti Bolognese, rich meat sauce with mushrooms and onions. Those with gargantuan appetites should order gnocchi cardinale, big and hardy in a delicious creamy pink sauce.
Combine the heaping pasta plates with minestrone or onion soup as a starter and the exceptional salad, and you have one of the best pasta nights around.
J & J Southside is at 1624 New York Avenue.
The American Bistro in Kings Park will offer cooking classes and wine dinners this year. The classes will be taught by one of its two owners, George P. Hirsch, former director of the New York Tech Culinary Institute.
The classical winemakers' dinners, which start on Jan. 30 and 31, will offer a culinary tour of the cuisine and wines of France.
Maxxaluna Ristorante, 6005 Jericho Turnpike in Commack, is also offering a cooking course. The lessons on contemporary northern Italian cuisine are taught by the chef, Gustavo Graziano.
Participants will receive instruction on menu selections, including salads, and sauces and entrees.