The Montauk fluke tartare is perfect at The 1770 House...

The Montauk fluke tartare is perfect at The 1770 House in East Hampton. (Sept. 7, 2013) Credit: Gordon M. Grant

The 1770 House began as a home, became an inn, now is a landmark. More important, it's one of the best restaurants in the Hamptons.

New chef Michael Rozzi's refined, understated New American cooking is the current draw. He's an East Hampton veteran, respected for his excellent fare at the departed Della Femina.

But what also separates The 1770 House from so many high-end Hamptonians is the seamless service and the sensibility behind it. General manager Carol Covell expertly oversees a polished, attention-to-detail dining room, as well as alfresco tables circling the nearby fountain.

The charms of The 1770 House are year-round, but it's especially enticing when the leaves turn color and the crowds head west.

Chef Rozzi's menu changes frequently. You might sample perfect Montauk fluke tartare, with marinated cucumber, black seaweed and wasabi-sparked tobiko; and velvety seared tuna, just this side of sashimi, with local sorrel and purple shiso.

What could have been a standard, prosciutto-andmozzarella appetizer showcases creamy, springy mozzarella di bufala, Parma prosciutto aged 18 months, a melon-and-endive salad with a hint of vanilla, Banyuls wine vinegar and herb flatbread. It's terrific. The house's shrimp cocktail is made with wild white shrimp.

The local arugula salad with shaved fennel, red onion, orange, Grand Padano cheese and wild-fennel pollen citronette dressing; and Balsam Farms beet salad, with blue cheese, red endive and hazelnuts in a sherry vinaigrette both refresh your appetite.

Rozzi prepares a superb Montauk striped bass with lobster sauce, peas, gaufrette potatoes, and a hint of tarragon; and an outstanding, roasted halibut, currently with smoked scallions, fava beans, wild mushrooms and red mustard greens. Marinated swordfish steak a la plancha finds a harmonious match with a Balsam Farms sungold tomato-and-sweet corn vinaigrette, rapini and Thai basil.

Spicy calamari with cherry tomatoes, entangled with linguine, is enlivened even more with Tasso ham and marjoram. Roasted chicken, tender and moist, is flanked by a Balsam Farms fingerling potato salad and local wax beans. The juicy, fibrous Painted Hills strip steak arrives with local sweet corn, zucchini, favas and a barbecue glaze that heightens the flavor without overwhelming the beef.

Dessert: ricotta cheesecake with a hazelnut crust, blueberry compote and bourbon caramel; tres leches cake with coconut sorbet, pineapple, golden raisins and dark rum; a fresh strawberry bouche with vanilla whipped cream and orange vincotto. Maybe follow them with a glass of Port or poire Williams, Nonino grappa or Cognac.

The 1770 House merits a toast.

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