The formula at Serafina East Hampton is as uncomplicated as the chainlet's square-one appeal: pizzas plus pastas and salads yield diners. Add buzz and ink, and you have this season's slickest entry.
Serafina comes east from Manhattan, bearing much Italian flour, bright-yellow advertising, a trademark brand and a following, taking over the site of Matto. The scrupulously bronzed and the tanners-in-progress join vacationing families to raise the decibels and to crowd both inside and out on the patio, where it takes a checkbook more than matches to hold tables steady.
Serafina is built on pizza, "fabulous pizza," as they say. The house prides itself on the ultra-crisp, matzo-thin variety. Much is made of the highly refined flour, the filtered water; the sea salt, the extra-virgin olive oil. And the pizzas can be good. But anyone who has tasted pies in certain quarters from Brooklyn to L.A., New Hyde Park to Bayport, or greater Naples, may not swoon on cue. Still, try one of the three margheritas; or the Portofino, with pesto added. You also can drop $30 on the robiola-and-black truffle excess. Tuna works better as a sashimi-grade appetizer than as a topping. The sliced baby-artichoke-and-Parmesan combo heads fine salads. Linguine with clams leads the well-made pastas. Seaside, sample the thinly sliced tuna "del principe di Napoli," finished with sesame oil, chives and ginger. Tender filet mignon, tasty Parmesan fries. Creamy tiramisu to conclude.
Too many squid are "fried in Italian peanut oil like in the south of Italy," a region where they surprisingly must put mango in insalata di Capri, too. Prosciutto overload upends tagliolini with peas and mushrooms. Ravioli are closer to hard than al dente. Bass wrapped with potatoes: mummified. But the bed of fennel and leeks is soft. Overdone apple tart; dry Italian cheesecake.
THE BOTTOM LINE