The East End glimmers in late summer, beckoning vacationers and day-trippers. Finding a meal to match the views, however, requires a bit more work. We've done it for you. For 2010, here are some of the sharpest tines on the North and South forks, categorized and selected by Newsday's food staff, Peter M. Gianotti, Joan Reminick and Erica Marcus.
FOR CELEBRITY SPOTTING
Nick & Toni's, 136 N. Main St., East Hampton; 631-324-3550; nickandtonis.com $$$
If that's who you think it is, it probably is. Known for Spielberg sightings, McCartney moments and more. Very good food, too.
Many "Real Housewives" materialize, along with assorted fashion and show-biz types. You'll like the soup dumplings and Beijing duck.
Bostwick's Chowder House, 277 Pantigo Rd., East Hampton; 631-324-1111; bostwickschowderhouse.com $$
The North Fork Table & Inn, 57225 Main Rd. (Route 25), Southold; 631-765-0177; northforktableandinn.com $$$-$$$$
The desserts at this four-star restaurant change with the seasons. The quality stays the same. Memorable choices: a honey-and-pine nut tart with ricotta ice cream; an updated peach cobbler; the chocolate-and-caramel tart; "sugar and spice" doughnuts; buttermilk panna cotta with strawberry-rhubarb compote.
FIVE WATER VIEWS
The Boathouse, 39 Gann Rd., East Hampton; 631-329-3663; easthampton boathouse.com $$-$$$
From the second-floor dining room, observe boaters, revel in a long sunset. Eat shellfish, fish-and-chips, pasta with clam sauce.
Tranquil harbor views and great sunsets heighten the fun at this New American winner. Try the lime-grilled local catch and seared halibut.
The Beacon, 8 W. Water St., Sag Harbor; 631-725-7088; beaconsagharbor.com $$-$$$
Stirring sunsets, pretty views and tasty New American cooking attract regulars. Right for fish tacos, tuna tartare, pork chop Milanese.
A Touch of Venice, 2255 Wickham Ave., Mattituck; 631-298-5851; touchofvenice.com $$
Sip a Bellini and daydream. The Italianate fare includes grilled swordfish Abruzzo, grilled tuna Capri and veal Parmigiana.
Navy Beach, 16 Navy Rd., Montauk; 631-668-6868; navybeach.com $$-$$$
You're almost in the water here, a beach-ball toss from Fort Pond Bay. Alfresco and indoor dining available. Nibble on seafood and chips, fried chicken, Parmesan fries, passion-fruit granita.
Luce & Hawkins, 400 S. Jamesport Ave., Jamesport; 631-722-2900; jedediahhawkinsinn.com $$$-$$$$
The new restaurant at the grandly restored inn is one of the year's best. Exceptional tasting menus with local ingredients.
The 1770 House, 143 Main St., East Hampton; 631-324-1770; 1770house.com $$$
A vintage inn with Hamptons' style and first-class cooking, including roasted swordfish, pork chops and duck-confit salad.
Scrimshaw, 102 Main St., Greenport; 631-477-8882; scrimshawrestaurant.com $$-$$$
At Preston's Wharf, an inviting spot for seafood chowder, diver scallops, duck breast with peach sauce.
A BOWL OF PASTA
Robert's, 755 Montauk Hwy., Water Mill; 631-726-7171; robertshamptons.com $$-$$$
In a pasta-everywhere region, Robert's is a refined, low-key presence. Consider the fresh ricotta gnocchi with tomato and basil; the rigatoni Bolognese; pappardelle with duck confit; orecchiette with shrimp and broccoli rabe; and perhaps an old favorite - fettuccine with artichokes, asparagus and peas in cream sauce.
Pizzetteria Brunetti, 103 Main St., Westhampton Beach; 631-288-3003; pizzetteriabrunetti.com $$
There's not much more to this tiny establishment than the wood-burning brick oven (imported from Naples), a dozen stools, great ingredients and gifted pizza makers. All sampled pies, excellent; the clam pie, a revelation. Plus an improbably good wine list.
LT Burger in the Harbor, 62 Main St., Sag Harbor; 631-899-4646; ltburger.com $$
Laurent Tourondel, high-profile chef formerly of NYC's BLT Market, BLT Steak, BLT Burger and BLT Fish (to name a few), offers Hamptonites this laid-back cafe, where the beef burgers (regular or Kobe) are deliciously juicy and satisfying.
LOBSTERS TIMES THREE
Duryea's Lobster Deck, 65 Tuthill Rd., Montauk; 631-668-2410; duryealobsters.com $-$$
Very casual, outdoors and devoted to steamed lobster, Duryea's has pristine appeal. Just in case, they have hot dogs.
Clam Bar at Napeague, 2025 Montauk Hwy., Amagansett; 631-267-6348; clambaronline.com $-$$
Why is this roadside stand always crowded? Probably because of the lobster roll - big chunks of sweet meat, a little celery, a touch of mayo, a lightly toasted hot dog bun.
Love Lane Kitchen, 240 Love Lane, Mattituck; 631-298-8989; lovelanekitchen.com $$-$$$
The fine lobster roll consists of lobster salad - very little chopped celery, some lemon juice and mayo - piled high into a toasted brioche bun, thoughtfully lined with mesclun to keep it from getting soggy.
La Fondita, 74 Montauk Hwy., Amagansett; 631-267-8800; lafondita.net $-$$
Those featured in Us and those who read about them converge at this vortex of intense, authentic Mexican flavors. Grab a pondside picnic table and revel in soft-corn tacos (shrimp, carne asada, chorizo or fish) and a bowl of zesty pozole rojo, a stewlike pork and hominy soup.
FOUR FOR FISH
Noah's, 136 Front St., Greenport; 631-477-6720; chefnoahschwartz.com $$-$$$
This year's winning newcomer, Noah's stands out with plates small and large, from striped-bass crudo to the warm lobster roll and grilled sardines.
The Plaza Cafe, 61 Hill St., Southampton; 631-283-9323; plazacafe.us $$-$$$
Fin for fin, shell for shell, at the top, whether you're ordering the swordfish "chop," the shepherd's pie with shellfish or lobster-corn chowder.
Trata East, 1020 Montauk Hwy., Water Mill; 631-726-6200; trata.com $$$-$$$$
Outstanding whole grilled fish from the Mediterranean and closer waters define Trata. Fine Greek dishes, too.
Fishbar on the Lake, 467 E. Lake Dr., Montauk; 631-668-6600; freshlocalfish.com $$-$$$
Casual, popular, and to the point, Fishbar is a net full of flavor that takes in fish tacos, fried cod, pan-seared fluke and steamed lobster.
Sen, 23 Main St., Sag Harbor; 631-725-1774; seninthehamptons.com $$-$$$
You'd expect intense competition, but there isn't any. Sen is the most consistent destination for uncooked fish: sushi, sushi rolls, sashimi.
Stone Creek Inn, 405 Montauk Hwy., East Quogue; 631-653-6770; stonecreekinn.com $$$
This charmer has a serene style and energized cooking. Look for tuna au poivre, butter-poached lobster, grilled Portuguese octopus, an appetizer of burrata cheese and Serrano ham.
POUNDS OF BARBECUE
Turtle Crossing, 221 Pantigo Rd., East Hampton; 631-324-7166; turtlecrossing.com $$-$$$
Stars often drop into this informal favorite for a 'cue fix, indoors or out. Recommended: smoked brisket chili with moist cornbread, ribs, quesadillas, fish tacos.
Townline BBQ, 3593 Montauk Hwy., Sagaponack, 631-537-2271 $$
A magnet for celebs as well as locals, this rustic order-at-the-counter spot keeps 'em coming back for more of the smoky ribs (both pork and beef), pulled pork, barbecued chicken and brisket. Grab an outdoor table with a view of surrounding farmland.
The Palm at the Huntting Inn, 4 Main St., East Hampton; 631-324-0411; thepalm.com $$$-$$$$
The Hamptonian branch of the national chain has a bucolic look. Plus a classic New York strip steak, filet mignon, rib eye, its famous sliced Steak a la Stone with onions and roasted peppers. Dissenters can choose a 4-pound-or-more Nova Scotia lobster.
HOW THEY RATE
Average meal price per person: $$$$ = $100, $$$ = $60, $$ = $30, $ = $15