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The beautiful views at The Halyard. (Credit: David Benthal)

Outdoor dining has always been a summer pastime on Long Island. But last year, the pandemic made it a safer way to eat out, allowing restaurants that already had tricked-out patios to introduce diners to their food, views and good vibes. And other restaurants used the pandemic as a reason to upgrade their outdoor space, adding fire pits and chandeliers to enhance the dining experience.

The result? An upgraded list of upscale spots to dine al fresco. Before summer ends, get to one or five of these Long Island restaurants with great patios. 

The Halyard, Greenport

You know the deal: When in Greenport, head towards the water. This seaside eatery, located in the historic Sound View Inn, doesn’t need to add many bells or whistles to its patio — the views of the Long Island Sound speak for themselves. Noted chef Stephan Bogardus took over the reins in the kitchen in 2019, giving the renovated spot some added cred. The lunch menu boasts a popular North Fork lobster roll (because of course), and the Halyard clam chowder with bacon manages to hit the spot even on a scorching day. 

Fresno, East Hampton

This East Hampton location has been in business for nearly two decades, and it wasn’t about to let the pandemic slow its roll. The team transformed the parking lot into an oasis for al fresco dining, installing high reed fencing to give guests a semblance of privacy and fire pits and fleece blankets to keep them cozy after a gorgeous East End sunset gives way to a starry night. The pan-seared Atlantic salmon gets a seasonal twist with a sweet mango-coconut broth that takes tastebuds on a tropical adventure. The steak and burgers are cooked to perfection. 

East Hampton’s Fresno converted a parking lot into a “rosé garden” for safe summer dining. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Fresno)

Centro Trattoria, Hampton Bays

This restaurant has become popular over the years for its authentic Italian dishes that manage to stand out in a crowded field on the Island. But these days, people are flocking to it to dine al fresco in two — count ‘em two — outdoor eating spaces. The more upscale space, situated on a gravel piazza-style area, boasts white tablecloths. As night falls, string lights illuminate the space. On an unseasonably cool night, stay cozy by the outdoor fireplace. Across the way, there’s a more informal area overlooking bocce courts. The tables are bare, save for bright red and orange umbrellas, which provide shade. And the staff delivers food via golf cart.

Restaurant Prime, Huntington

The Bohlsen Restaurant Group, the team behind Prime, has long prided itself on making this upscale restaurant a year-round spot for some of the best surf and turf on the Island. They have an outdoor space with a view, but they don’t want it to define them, owner Michael Bohlsen likes to say. But you can’t deny that the harbor view is breathtaking. And it makes it a prime — pun intended — place to check off your Island dining bucket list during the warmer months. While seated, diners can enjoy everything from sushi to a porterhouse for two or four that’s so delicious you’ll be tempted to order it for yourself and indulge in leftovers for days. Though there’s a lengthy wine list with local and international picks, consider opting for a beer. Bohlsen Restaurant Group teamed up with Barrier Brewing Co. to celebrate the 20th anniversary of another one of its restaurants, H2O, with a dry-hopped beer with hints of grapefruit, melon and lemon, and it’s on the menu at Prime, too.

Guests at Prime can enjoy some of Long Island’s best steak on a harborside patio. (Photo Credit: @iconogram)

The Refuge, Melville

This spot has long been a favorite for after-work happy hours, and come summertime, the outdoor patio feels like an escape to another world. Tropical plants line the space, and the wooden tables are covered by large umbrellas that provide shade from the sunny summer skies. But perhaps the best perk of the patio comes each Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., when Revel hosts a Barkin’ Brunch and your dog is invited. Diners can enter their pups into a raffle and give them treats while indulging in a jelly donut French toast that’s as sweet as it sounds. Build-your-own omelets and mimosas are also on the menu.

Revel, Garden City

This Garden City establishment brought the indoors out with a slew of patio upgrades made for luxe summertime dining. The tented outdoor patio is lined with pansies, palm trees and a rock garden. Underneath the tent, the space feels like a whimsical paradise. Greenery and large jeweled chandeliers descend from the ceiling. White tablecloths and woven chairs project an unpretentious and airy yet sophisticated vibe. And the food doesn’t disappoint. The peppercorn in the tagliatelle a la shrimp scampi gives it an added spice, and the General Tso’s wings, served with chili peppers and sriracha lime ranch, keep your tastebuds entertained.