Dining Review: The Landing

The Landing at Ocean Beach Doubles Down

By Timothy BolgerThe Landing at Ocean Beach620 Bay WalkOcean Beach631-583-58010 a.m.-2 a.m. dailyNine years after the newest full-service restaurant and bar debuted in downtown Ocean Beach, the upbeat crew at The Landing is sizzling with an ever-rising enthusiasm for making their guests’ mouths water.Our lovely waitress expertly guided us through the menu, correctly suggesting we start by sipping The Daytripper, a refreshing blend of Tito’s vodka and watermelon lemonade. Thomas Rougey, the new head chef, proved what deliciousness The Landing’s newly reinvigorated kitchen crew is capable of under the wise leadership of a third-generation master of the culinary arts. And the human turbine of positivity keeping the staff energized and patrons smiling is perpetually schmoozing owner Jon Randazzo, who’s not one to shy away from washing dishes or bussing tables if his team needs help.“I look back and can’t even grasp how long it’s come,” said Randazzo of how nearly a decade has passed since The Landing set sail directly across Bay Walk from the village’s new ferry terminal. The mature, upscale causal spot with its modern-rustic décor is billed as “fine dining in flip flops.”Of the 11 restaurants in Ocean Beach, Randazzo owns two. Before The Landing, he got his start in the bar business when he bought Castaways Bar & Grill. He also owns two cafes and two ice cream shops – the foundation of his local empire being Scoops, the ice creamery this 35-year-old restaurateur used his inheritance to open at age 20. The Landing is not connected to restaurants with similar names at Jones Beach and in New York City.Back at The Landing at Ocean Beach, Chef Rougey – who got his start at Emmerson’s in Babylon and worked in leading Long Island kitchens before arriving here – wowed our taste buds with the spicy mayo-topped jumbo lump crab cake served with a black bean and corn salsa ($18) for starters. Strongly recommended were the steamed pork buns featuring braised pork belly, black garlic molasses and pickled cucumber ($12), which are at the top of the appetizer menu for good reason.We let Chef Rougey choose our entrees, and he did not disappoint. The perfectly flakey Day Boat Halibut starred Israeli couscous, leeks, royal trumpet mushrooms and a lemon brown butter sauce ($32), which was one of the best meals this reporter has had in years. My wife got the Red Snapper with roasted baby rainbow carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, tomato and curry sauce ($29). We traded plates halfway through, but neither of us could decide which dish was more amazing.Our daughter, Breanna, got the kid’s macaroni and cheese. Unlike most food we cook for her at home, this she actually ate, which speaks volumes for a 2-year-old who is still learning to talk and stay seated for an entire meal. Mommy and daddy helped and were impressed at its superior flavor.For dessert, we went with the Caramel Delight, which lived up to its name. It’s made with a sea salt caramel crust, caramel mousse, Nutella, toasted almonds and whipped cream. Next visit we’ll try the acai sorbet with fresh fruit.Besides The Daytripper, we also washed down the feast with the RoséMossa, in which pink wine colorfully and tastefully mingles with the classic brunch beverage, the mimosa. The Banana Mudslide aptly complemented dessert.Calling us back to The Landing will be the Monday pasta special, surf-and-turf Sundays and the live music five nights weekly.