You Need to Try This New Restaurant in Rockville Centre

Don’t let the carnival games and flashing lights make you think otherwise; The Bowery Bar & Fare serves up some seriously great food.

Do you remember what it felt like as a child when the carnival would roll into town? The excitement of watching those rickety rides go up? The sudden need for the stuffed animals draped under well-worn tents? The seemingly endless array of games and the satisfying triumph of winning even one? And most of all, the anticipation as you waited in line clutching crumpled dollar bills for treats you’d inhale in a cloud of confectioners sugar, or blissfully devour on the street as cheese and condiments gathered on your shirt?

Matthew Kouskalis, Nick Marolachakis and Nick and Manny Galanis of Legacy Restaurant Group remember all of these things—and vividly. And it’s this spirit that’s channeled and wholly reimagined in the whimsical Bowery Bar & Fare in Rockville Centre, the first original concept by the group that bought Bareburger to our area.

Here, you can step right up from Sunrise Highway into a space where carnival season doesn’t end and the present is better than reminisces from the past. You see, at The Bowery, everything you remember with fondness has been elevated to tap into that larger-than-life sense of wonder typically reserved for childhood.

Favorites like ring toss get a grown-up twist behind the bar with taps as your target. Funhouse mirrors turn going to the bathroom into a trip. A biergarten-style space with giant Jenga, Connect Four, and chess invite you to come out and play, while board games and the DJ spinning from a boombox booth tempt you to stay. And beyond reclaimed and repurposed decor, including actual records and other salvaged elements from the age of analog, art created by Long Island locals provide an edgy urban vibe with Instagram appeal.

So, atmosphere? The Bowery has it in spades and in detail. But for this team, a gimmick wasn’t enough.

“We wanted to do something different in hospitality,” Matthew, Director of First Impressions, said. “We’d been talking about doing something with street fair food, but wanted to look at it in a different way and serve food that’s fun and meant for sharing.”

Enter Dan DeSalvo, the CIA-trained former chef for Del Frisco’s (DC), Mastro’s Steakhouse and Morton’s Steakhouse. As venue’s current Head of Tastes, he’s traded in his traditional starched whites to go fully Willy Wonka rogue on global street eats.

“I’ve been wanting to do more creative things with food, to use that training toward looking at things people love and giving them a modern twist,” he shared as he filled our table with dishes that go beyond simple spin to totally topsy-turvy.

Just for starters, steamed mantou buns filled with tender hoisin chicken and bulgogi beef provide an Asian interpretation of tacos. Grilled corn is served elote style and also wrapped in bacon and drizzled with barbecue sauce. Enormous pretzels are beer-battered as patrons choose their own adventure in sweet–with cinnamon cream–or savory–cheddar bacon ale. Mac and cheese meet pepperoni pizza in cast-iron skillets, already viral among local influencers for their long cheese pulls.

The entrees are equally Insta-ready. Think well-seasoned burger patties nestled between crunchy grilled cheese sandwiches, a fried egg dripping through the meat, or between pillowy yeast doughnuts with crisp bacon. Ham and swiss with fig and reuben sandwiches given the jaffle treatment as sealed toasted sandwiches. And the decadent pulled pork poutine that tops sweet potato waffle fries and is bound by cheddar.

But that’s not to say adult decisions can’t be made. The Impossible Burger appears in several forms on the menu, and nods to the owners’ shared Greek heritage lead to falafel, gyro sliders, and kebabs with housemade tzatziki. Charred kale makes for a hearty salad, and the beet, arugula and goat cheese option is sized for sharing.

Other adult decisions come by way of the irresistible cocktail menu, designed by Nic Richards of The Standard Hotel, showcasing fresh juices and local spirits. Boozy snow cones go down easy–try the Sex in the Suburbs, made with Aylesbury Duck Vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry and lime syrup or Shoot the Freak, with aged rum, Ancho Reyes chili liquor, coconut pineapple syrup, and hellfire tincture. The electric blue Ring the Bell is a nod to cotton candy, and a circus theme leads to drink names like Fire Eater, Strongman, Tattooed Lady and Human Cannonball.

The Bowery differentiates itself with a choice of 24 mostly local beers on tap, too, including a seasonally rotating brew made just for the restaurant. Summer’s feature was a watermelon blonde ale by Lithology Brewing Co.; fall welcomes a cinnamon apple, as well as $12 lunch specials that let you upgrade your soda to a beer for a mere $3. Also debuting in autumn: weekend brunch, whose headliners include breakfast nachos, a mashup of traditional nachos add eggs, sausage, waffles and the kitchen sink; homemade biscuits topped with fried chicken and poached eggs with country gravy; and hot dogs dipped in waffle batter.  

To close out any of the above, we highly recommend finishing with the bruleed butter cake. It’s topped with Brooklyn-based Van Lewin’s ice cream and jelly doughnut Melba sauce. And then taking a long, hard nap with your favorite blankie and a big, sticky smile on your face—just like when you were a kid during carnival season.