Each year, as the summer approaches, a slew of new Hamptons restaurants fling open their doors. This year, notably, there aren’t quite as many new places as in the past.
Perhaps it’s because the past few seasons have been successful ones for current tenants. Says Andrea Ackerman, associate broker with Brown Harris Stevens of the Hamptons, “On the East End, real estate is very limited in terms of zoning for restaurants. If a restaurant has staying power, it’s going to stay where it is and expand by opening up in other locations when they become available.”
Thus, the often volatile Hamptons restaurant scene may have reached a certain equilibrium. “Bobby Van’s in Bridgehampton, Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton,” says Ackerman, who’s been in the business for more than 30 years, “every town and village has its staples.” Newer, but showing signs of long-term success, are Wölffer Kitchen in Sag Harbor and Elaia Estiatorio in Bridgehampton.
The news right now is about refreshing, renovating and expanding old favorites such as Sen in Sag Harbor and Claudio’s in Greenport, and the resurrection of Moby’s at East Hampton Point.
For diners seeking the thrill of the new, Maison Vivienne in Southampton offers a taste of the south of France, and Culaccino in Water Mill serves modern Italian fare. Later in the season, look for the opening of Sag Pizza, taking Conca D’Oro’s place on Main Street in Sag Harbor.
George's Lighthouse Cafe
George's Lighthouse Cafe (200 Montauk Point Hwy., Montauk Point): Get ready for a new way to enjoy the Montauk Lighthouse this summer. George’s Lighthouse Cafe at Montauk Point State Park is a 3,200-square-foot glass-enclosed structure adjacent to the lighthouse, with stunning views of the bluffs and waters. Named after no less of an eminence than George Washington, who authorized the lighthouse’s construction in 1792, the cafe features a dining room, a lively bar with live music throughout the summer, and a fireplace for warming up after being whipped by Montauk Point winds. A breakfast menu served from 8 a.m. includes French toast, crab toast and breakfast burritos. Lunch, served until dusk, features fish tacos, fried calamari, clam chowder, lobster mac and cheese, mussels in white wine, grilled steak and the lobster platter, above. Available for private events, with a full liquor license. More info: 631-663-2076, georgeslighthousecafe.com
Il Mulino (108 Wainscott Stone Rd., Wainscott): A new outpost of the upscale Italian chain Il Mulino, with dining rooms already open in Roslyn and vacation destinations including Las Vegas, San Juan and South Beach, Florida, will open in place of Osteria Salina in Wainscott. Expect a small, pricey selection of old-school Italian dishes chosen from the corporate menu: risotto, chicken Parmigiana, zabaglione. A wood-fired oven will produce pizzas. Above, pear salad, served over mache. Historically, this location has been a good spot for seeing and being seen. But if you are publicity shy, you’ll be able to take advantage of a takeout option, or hire Il Mulino to cater an at-home affair. More info: 631-658-9122, ilmulino.com
Maison Vivienne (136 Main St., Southampton): Replacing Japanese Kozu, this restaurant featuring southern French cuisine in a historic Dutch Colonial building with a double-height dining room is slated to open Memorial Day weekend. Maison Vivienne will have indoor and outdoor seating, an herb-and-vegetable garden and rooms upstairs if you fancy staying overnight. Wolfgang Ban, who owns East Village Austrian bistro Edi & the Wolf, will prepare salad Nicoise, bouillabaisse, ratatouille and other regional summertime classics. The restaurant’s signature dessert, cherry clafouti, is characteristically classic. More info: 631-500-9276
Sel Rrose (4 S. Elmwood Ave., Montauk): Montauk beer garden Zum Schneider closed its doors in mid-May, and the new lease-holders, proprietors of cocktail and oyster bar Sel Rrose on Delancey Street in the city, are hard at work on a redesign for their beach annex. The restaurant takes its name from Marcel Duchamp’s female alter-ego, Rrose Selavy. Expect distressed décor that evokes an early 20th century French artist’s studio and a menu of cocktails (the Lavender Piscine, Champagne with a cube of lavender ice and grapefruit bitters is the house specialty), oysters, shellfish towers and mostly French small plates, including duck confit, steak tartare, chicken liver pate and brandade. More info: selrrose.com
Moby's (295 Three Mile Harbor Hog Creek Rd., East Hampton): This itinerant hot spot first popped up in Lake Montauk and then in East Hampton before going on hiatus last summer when EMP Summer House took over its temporary home. On May 24, it lands at East Hampton Point, the first time outside operators have leased the space. A relaxed atmosphere and a lively bar will be familiar from previous iterations, as will a casual Italian menu of simple pastas, wood-fired pizzas, and a few summery meat and fish dishes. Above, from left, a potato pizza, kale salad, mussels and a magherita pizza. New to the mix — comfortable indoor and outdoor seating with killer views of the water. More info: mobysny.com
Sushi by Bou
Sushi by Bou (268 Elm St., Southampton): Jue Lan Club, the upscale Chinese restaurant with locations in the city and Southampton, will celebrate its third season at the beach by opening a restaurant within its restaurant. An intimate, eight-seat sushi bar, called Sushi by Bou, will serve a 30-minute, lunchtime omakase (12 pieces of nigiri sushi selected by the chef) for $50, and a one-hour dinner omakase (16 pieces plus a hand roll) for $100. Above, ikura sushi. Maverick sushi chef David Bouhadana, who is behind the concept and the menu, has said he aims to serve “sushi for the people.” While not cheap, the timed omakase is a relatively affordable way to enjoy a large sampling before rushing off to the beach or a nightclub. More info: 631-353-3610, juelanclub.com
Culaccino (670 Montauk Hwy., Water Mill): Chef-owner Jon Albrecht, most recently of Flagship in Montauk, is at the helm of this modern Italian place where Mirko’s and Manna once stood. “Culaccino” is the Italian term for the mark left on a table by a glass. Albrecht hopes to make his mark with Italian staples such as burrata, summery seafood dishes including seared octopus and pan-seared halibut, and specialties new to the Hamptons, such as a wild boar chop. Above, a special of pan-seared halibut over squash and zucchini risotto. Two dining rooms, a newly renovated outdoor bar and a refreshed patio will be open for dinner seven nights a week during the summer. Look for a mid-June opening.
Caci Shelter Island
Caci Shelter Island (11 Stearns Point Rd., Shelter Island Heights): The popular North Fork country Italian spot is opening a second location. Beginning Memorial Day weekend, the new place, at the Shelter Island House hotel in Shelter Island Heights, will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a happy hour menu at the bar and boccie court. The dinner menu is enticing. Appetizers include calamari skewers with house-made seasoned bread crumbs. A selection of crudos includes yellowfin tuna tartare with avocado, sea scallop crudo with blood orange sauce, and beef carpaccio with black truffle. Above, yellowfin tuna with Calabrian sauce and sesame seeds. Fresh bread and pasta will be made on the North Fork and delivered by ferry. More info: 631-749-5659, cacishelterisland.com
Hooked (34 S. Etna Ave., Montauk): A new counter service seafood spot, mostly for takeout but with some picnic tables out front, recently opened in Montauk. Owners Brian and Gillian Mooney have moved into the space formerly occupied by Red Hook Lobster Pound. Both have plenty of seafood and hospitality experience. Brian, a 24-year veteran of the iconic Clam Bar at Napeague and an expert shucker, has extensive contacts in the local fishing industry, allowing him to buy right off the boat. Gillian was a co-owner of the landmark Herb’s Market for more than a decade. Lobster rolls, above, chowder, fish tacos and fish sandwiches are on the menu, as well as ribs, burgers and fries. There is also a raw bar highlighting Montauk Pearl oysters and local clams. A children’s menu includes grilled cheese, hot dogs and fish bites. For dessert, there will always be house-made tiramisu. Open every day from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. More info: 631-668-2111, hookedmtk.com
Claudio’s Greenport (111 Main St., Greenport): It’s a new era for Claudio’s, which was recently sold after 148 years under the same family’s ownership. Perry Weitz, his son David Weitz, Ian Behar and Ryan Sasson grew up on Claudio’s food and hospitality and plan to maintain the restaurant’s essential menu items and core service principles. Familiar faces will be serving food and tending bar when the establishment’s three venues, Claudio’s, Claudio’s Clam Bar and Crabby Jerry’s, open around Memorial Day weekend. Restaurant vets Tora Matsuoka, co-owner of long-running Sen Restaurant in Sag Harbor, and Stephen Loffredo are heading up the management team to ensure the place honors longtime local customers and radiates a small-town vibe. Expect a gently modernized fish house menu, with Atlantic seafood, including lobsters, above, clams, oysters and swordfish taking center stage. More info: 631-477-0627
Sen (23 Main St., Sag Harbor): Not only have Sag Harbor residents had to deal with some extreme weather this winter, they’ve had to do so without sushi. That ends on June 20, when the fully renovated Sen will debut, with a 95-seat dining room and an expanded cocktail lounge and sake bar. Co-owner Jesse Matsuoka, a sake expert, is excited to offer a wide sake selection. In addition to imports, and in keeping with Sen’s commitment to sourcing local ingredients, the bar will feature Brooklyn-made Kura sake on tap. Along with old favorites such as yellowtail sashimi with jalapeños and ponzu sauce, there will be many additions to the menu. After taking classes in the traditional craft, the Sen team is excited to offer soba noodles, house-made with Japanese buckwheat flour. They also are eager to present a new late-night menu, served from 11:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., with ramen bowls, steamed buns and other little bites. Above, sashimi. More info: 631-725-1774, senrestaurant.com