Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon

East Hampton: Fresno refreshed

Strawberry shortcake at Fresno in East Hampton

Strawberry shortcake at Fresno in East Hampton Credit: Newsday, 2010 / Peter M. Gianotti

Brazilian music will be played and caipirinhas will be poured tonight at Fresno. But consider them simple additions. Fresno is having summer fun.

The New American restaurant, which starting taking its current shape in 2004, still has a relaxed, California style, down to the very laid-back servers and the fresh flavors from Gretchen Menser's kitchen.

Over the years, Fresno has both streamlined (the dining room) and expanded (the patio, with fountain) while keeping the old zinc bar a busy spot. Under Menser, the food has improved, too.

She updates the basic Caprese salad with dead-ripe heirloom tomatoes and burrata cheese. Sweet, sweet cantaloupe plays off prosciutto in another familiar combo, but this one adds a nest of cress and shaved fennel, drizzled with a blood-orange vinaigrette. Snowy, local cod looks like an island, surrounded by savory coconut-lemongrass broth, Japanese eggplant, baby bok choy and daikon sprouts. Warm potato salad and smoked bacon accent a center-cut, grilled pork chop; fries and arugula, a major hanger steak. Gemelli pasta arrives in a mellow sauce of fresh corn, basil puree and cherry tomatoes — so good that the big, smoky grilled Mayan prawns seem an afterthought.

You can conclude with a satisfying cappuccino pudding, under shavings of dark chocolate, vanilla wafers for company. Or dive into a revival of strawberry shortcake, starring Amaretto-macerated fruit and mascarpone ice cream, in a homey biscuit. It's enough to make you do the bossa nova.

Fresno, 8 Fresno Pl., East Hampton; 631-324-8700.

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