Four of us pressed our noses against the glass door of Foody's, a new restaurant tucked away in a remote corner of a Water Mill shopping center. My husband and I had taken out-of-town friends for a day's outing on the East End. As it turned out, we would have to seek our lunch elsewhere, since the place happens to be shut every Tuesday. We drove off, stomachs empty, the vague scent of wood smoke still in our nostrils.
The memory of the aroma from the restaurant's cherrywood grill drew me back for lunch a few weeks later, accompanied this time by other friends, with whom we were traveling to a two-day Montauk vacation.
The holiday began with the first spoonful of chef co-owner Bryan Futerman's sensational watermelon and red pepper gazpacho. I'm not talking about ordinary gazpacho. This was a transcendent soup, simultaneously cool, sweet and spicy, dotted with shards of watermelon, apple and tomato, spiked with chili pepper, every ingredient tasting just-picked. A bowl of tortellini soup, while not in that same stratosphere, also had that right-from-the-garden vibrancy.
Lunch progressed to a shared pizza -- half Margherita (house-made mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil), the other half "three meat" (sausage, meatball and pepperoni). What put the meat half over the top was the smokiness of the sausage, which had been cooked on the cherrywood grill. We also enjoyed a simple and fresh wood-grilled vegetable "tower," a layering that included mozzarella, basil and tomatoes. A hero sandwich of sliced wood-grilled marinated rib eye steak with peppers and onions featured tender smoke-infused meat. We concluded the meal with a buttery almond tart, made by the patisserie next door and topped by Futerman with a balsamic roasted peach.
We had planned on dining in Montauk both nights of our vacation, but following a mediocre dinner at a pricey restaurant the first evening, we decided, for the second, to retrace our steps to Water Mill. Dinner kicked off with a flawless mixed green salad with Gorgonzola and an herb vinaigrette. An order of oversized chicken wings, marinated and grilled, tasted of cherrywood, a flavor that rendered superfluous the accompanying barbecue and hot sauces.
A main course of marinated patially boned chicken was similar and super, accompanied by succotash, a summery stew of corn and beans. I loved the St. Louis ribs, large, meaty and smoky, served with herb-roasted potatoes and cole slaw, both first rate. We couldn't resist an extra order of grilled corn on the cob, a seasonal must. A surprise standout turned out to be spaghetti with white clam sauce, made with sweet, briny local clams out of the shell.
The sole letdown? A just-OK chocolate-glazed chocolate bundt cake with sweet cherries. The previous day's almond tart had been a hard act to follow.
Since Foody's is open year-round, Futerman will have ample opportunity to consult with the baker next door and dream up worthy alternatives. --Joan Reminick (9/2/05)