The “new Montauk” is getting newer.
Restaurant openings this season plus the return of promising kitchens that arrived last year are packing the easternmost village on Long Island, not just with beach-bound vacationers and casual fishermen, but with diners looking for much more than steamed lobster.
They’re finding it, too.
Here are four reasons why.
466 W. Lake Dr., 631-668-8260, flagshipmontauk.com
Flagship is making waves at the harbor, in the former site of Dave’s Grill. It’s co-owned by the father-son team of Eric and Adam Miller: The former is the chef; the latter is mixologist and designer. They also co-own Bay Kitchen Bar, perched waterside in East Hampton. The Millers have transformed this spot, bringing in shades of turquoise and white, highlighting the water view and creating a decidedly summertime vibe, at the bar and in the dining room, which opened this summer.
A standout appetizer is the lush spin on fluke crudo, which arrives looking more like a classic tartare, shaped like a puck, and given a tropical touch with pineapple and mango. A colorful alternative: roasted North Fork baby beets, accompanied by a confit of shallots, and fresh goat cheese and citrus salsa. Rich, savory pork buns improve on those at almost any Chinese restaurant in Nassau or Suffolk.
The main courses are led by a vivid “fisherman’s stew” that includes a 1-pound lobster, squid, mussels, clams and scallops in a broth the color of tomatoes, with an aroma and taste of anise so inviting that the result comes across like a local bouillabaisse.
Lobster egg rolls, four towers plated vertically, diagonally sliced at the top, are a very East End surprise and very good. Plump, seared, nutty, sweet day-boat scallops glisten from a pomegranate glaze; a special of perfectly grilled striped bass with an artful ring of succotash rivals them.
For dessert, try either the lively lemon tart with lemon sorbet or the countrified peach tart with strawberry ice cream.
Flagship is open seven days starting at 5 p.m., going till “late.” Reservations recommended on weekends. Major credit cards accepted.
Dave’s Gone Fishing
467 E. Lake Dr.; 631-668-9190, davesgonefishing.com
After decades in Montauk, Dave’s Grill closed last year, but that’s not the end of Dave’s. More casual in style and even better in cuisine is Dave’s Gone Fishing, which opened last summer. Like the Grill, Gone Fishing features the full-flavored work of chef David Marcley, who owns the restaurant with his wife, dining room manager Julie Marcley.
Dave’s Gone Fishing takes over the waterfront location previously occupied by Fishbar, once one of Long Island’s top seafood restaurants. The new Dave’s takes over that mantle, too, at the tiered establishment, which now includes a cozy lounge that resembles a library. There’s both indoor and outdoor seating.
The Marcleys’ emphasis is on small plates, though there are larger ones, too.
Essential choices include the house version of cioppino, the Italian-American-style fish stew associated with San Francisco. At Dave’s, it’s made with lobster, scallops, shrimp, clams, mussels and squid. Also mandatory is the delectable, warm, butter-poached lobster on a toasted bun — a lush roll.
And Dave’s penne Bolognese using lobster is terrific. Its competition comes from the baked-and-stuffed half lobster, linguine with local clams, and cornmeal-crusted squid with Sriracha sauce and basil aioli.
For diners not enamored of seafood, the honey-hoisin-roasted spare ribs and the grilled hanger steak with chimichurri and roasted fingerling potatoes are recommended.
Dave’s Gone Fishing is open six days from 5:30 p.m. It’s closed on Wednesdays. As was the case at Dave’s Grill, there are no formal reservations, but parties of six to eight (the maximum accepted) may go on the restaurant’s waiting list by calling after 5:30 p.m. on the day requested. Major credit cards are accepted.
Montauk Yacht Club Resort & Marina, 32 Star Island Dr., 631-668-3133, montaukyachtclub.com
The Montauk Yacht Club Resort & Marina has been anchored since 1928. Over the decades, its primary restaurant has undergone many incarnations.
Veterans may remember Ziegfeld’s, the best of the more recent incarnations, which juiced up the 1989 season. Broadway impresario Flo Ziegfeld once had a private compound on the property.
Chef Richard Hebson, whose résumé includes First and South in Greenport, has significantly upped the ante at Coast Kitchen, the serene, nautically but subtly appointed main restaurant that debuted at the resort last year. He deftly tweaks American classics at the reborn restaurant.
Blue Point oyster soup, enriched with cream and corn, and gilded with microgreens, befits the yacht club. So does the cream of asparagus soup, floating an island of smoked salmon and salmon roe for contrast and just enough saltiness. It’s completed with drizzles of lemony crème fraîche.
Hebson’s generous Cobb salad skips the chicken breast in favor of lobster, and the result is an ideal update. It could double as a main course. If you’re looking for lobster, Coast Kitchen may have a 4-pounder ready for a major appetite or to be split.
His Montauk-inflected cioppino, with savory tomato broth and lashings of garlic aioli, offers finfish, shellfish and squid, all tender, cooking meticulously timed. Pan-roasted striped bass, with parsnip purée and toasted quinoa is exceptional, as is a special of grilled black sea bass, with sides of Parmesan-seasoned puréed potatoes and baby carrots with labneh yogurt.
The carnivorous can choose between the charred, 14-ounce strip steak or the roasted half chicken with a honey-bourbon glaze.
Almost all diners may enjoy the playful strawberry shortcake, served in a little Mason jar, and the sweet-tart Key lime pie with raspberry sorbet.
Coast Kitchen is open Monday to Thursday 5:30 to 10 p.m., and 5:30 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Weekend reservations recommended; major credit cards accepted.
240 Fort Pond Rd.; 631-238-5430, arbormontauk.com
Arbor grows near the Montauk railroad station, a woodsy hideaway on the property that most recently housed Ciao by the Beach. It balances city and country styles, bar and restaurant, casual mood and prettily plated food, indoor and outdoor seating.
Arbor is owned by Marc Rowan, co-founder of Apollo Global Management, the private equity firm. Rowan purchased Duryea’s, the local mainstay for casual dining, in 2015.
The chef is Pierre Sudre, from southern France and Sofitel hotels; the managing director is Steven Jauffrineau, from La Goulue in Manhattan and Sunset Beach on Shelter Island.
Their Mediterranean-American restaurant, in its second season, boasts well-chosen beers on tap, a spirited cocktail list and serves weekend brunch as well as dinner.
The raw bar goes from Montauk pearl oysters to Belons, cherrystone clams to topnecks, shrimp and crab.
Sudre’s very satisfying creations continue with flavorful butternut squash soup with whipped, truffled mascarpone cheese, as well as a summery salad of watermelon and feta cheese with raita dressing. A chickpea vinaigrette elevates the organic quinoa and kale salad.
His elegant tuna tartare materializes with ripe avocado and eel sauce. First-class mussels marinière with tomato-tinted beurre blanc and grilled Spanish octopus with Romesco dressing earn their popularity, too. Charcuterie and cheese platters, a board of crudités and flatbreads are standbys.
And you may dive into a juicy cheeseburger, served with crisp fries, as well as the strip steak with peppercorn sauce.
Arbor is open for dinner Thursday and Friday 5:30 to 10:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 5 to 10:30 p.m. The bar menu is available 3:30 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Weekend dinner reservations recommended; major credit cards accepted.
Meanwhile, over in Greenport:
102 Main St. Wharf, Greenport; 631-333-2600, barbabiancany.com
Barba Bianca is situated at one of the East End’s most iconic waterfront locations: Preston’s Wharf, jutting into Greenport Harbor. Shift your view to the plates, however, and you may think you’re in Italy. In June, Frank DeCarlo, chef-owner of the celebrated Manhattan Italian restaurants Peasant and Bacaro, took over the two-story structure that, from 2004 until last year, was Scrimshaw. His menu focuses on local seafood whose preparations draw from the coastal traditions of Liguria, Puglia and Sardinia.
In DeCarlo’s hands, seafood salad is a cool sprawl of littleneck and razor clams, mussels, lightly marinated raw scallops and tender little calamari, all strewn with fresh herbs and sea beans. Frying is expert here, with long-stemmed, ricotta-stuffed zucchini blossoms competing for dominance over the fritto misto, a tempura-inspired tangle of crisp vegetables and seafood. If it’s available, order the spaghetti with blue crab — and prepare to make a mess of it: Extracting the meat from the shell is up to the diner.
Barba Bianca has lightened up Scrimshaw’s vaguely nautical decor and sharpened it with a recurring motif of black and white stripes. You’ll see them on the upholstery, on the servers’ jerseys, on the drinking straws that poke out of the fashionable cocktails. Snack in the dimly lit bar, dine either inside or out on the wharf, but don’t tarry. The restaurant’s last supper is on Labor Day.
Barba Bianca is open for dinner Thursday to Monday 6 to 11 p.m. Weather permitting, drinks are served on the wharf Thursday to Monday from 4 to 6 p.m.
— Erica Marcus