Phil’s in Wading River, a Neighborly Place

During cold weather, we spend more time indoors. I often read more books, cook more dinners and catch up on television shows that I’ve saved on my DVR. I love the comfort of my home. More friends come by to visit and we pair up wines with winter dishes. When I want to go out, I want to go to a place where everybody knows my name.

Phil’s Restaurant has been my home away from home for a very long time. It’s just up the hill from my house on the corner of Route 25A and Wading River Manor Road. Phil’s is a family owned business that has been in operation since 1990. What’s great about it is that we know the owners and their children grew up with our children. My two daughters worked there while attending the local high school and so did their friends, before they all went off to college. They still frequent the place on the weekends. Just this past Saturday my daughter met up with her girlfriends to hang out at Phil’s after going to the wineries. Now their younger siblings work there.

Inside Phil’s is all cozy, eclectic décor. The dining room is decorated in a Tuscany-style motif, creating an atmosphere for quiet conversation separate from the bar area. The bar and party room are graced with TVs with all sorts of sports and news airing at all times. Designed as a big rectangle, the bar has plenty of stools for everyone.

Surrounding the area are tables that seat either two or four people. There’s also an outside deck that caters to smokers. Phil’s makes you feel like you are family and will often make your favorite meal any way you choose. Even though Phil’s has daily specials, my husband routinely orders the garlic toasted Italian bread with Cajun chicken and melted Swiss cheese on it. I always get the French onion soup with a Caesar salad topped with grilled chicken. If there’s a new beer on tap, the bartenders offer you a free taste. I love their buy- back tokens. After a beer or two, I get a token that mimics a poker chip that’s good for one drink. I have one in my pocketbook right now. I could have used it a few times already, but haven’t just yet.

What’s even more satisfying is when you enter the back door—because that’s where all the locals come through—and everybody knows your name. It encourages me to come back, which I do every Friday night.

Not only do Phil and his children know my name, but they know my children’s names as well. When we sit at the bar, young Phil will ask about our son or daughters, wanting to know how they are doing. In turn, we do the same. Phil’s Restaurant, their owners and employees, are our extended family. We’re eager to find out how Eric, one of the servers and an avid surfer, enjoyed his last adventure. Billy, the bartender, recently shared with us how upset he got when his little girl asked him not to call her an endearing nickname in front of her friends anymore. We talk about family, golf outings, sports and anything else friends usually share with one another.

During the holiday season, Phil’s will be crowded with out-of-towners, transients from faraway places sharing our stools and tables. I don’t mind it because I know when I show up, I will be greeted by familiar faces and an open table. I know my meal will be delicious and the atmosphere satisfying. When the weather is dreary, wet and cold, and I want to be surrounded by good people, I’m glad to have a place I can go where everybody knows my name.

Phil’s Restaurant, 1856 Wading River Manor Rd, Wading River, 631-929-0508, philsrestaurant.com

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