Q&A with Richie Hosein and Enzo Lentini
When we say this summer is unlike any we’ve ever seen, we’re not telling you something you don’t already know. When we say there’s still a way to experience night life this summer, that may sound like new information. And thanks to hospitality veteran and nightclub owner Richie Hosein, it’s true.
In early July Hosein, known for AM Southampton and the Meatpacking hotspot Red Rabbit Club, launched his latest project, Etiquette Montauk, when he teamed up with Enzo Lentini at Ruschmeyer’s. The new restaurant concept is an immersive dining experience that uses interactive storytelling, lighting, and thematic soundscapes to create a theatrical, multi-sensory show, all of which is achieved with social distancing guidelines in place.
In addition to the theatrics, the Mediterranean-inspired menu with deep Italian roots has been curated by Executive Chef Giuseppe Lentini and is also set to wow along with an impressive champagne and wine list. Standout items include: fresh Montauk calamari pan-fried with Pablo breadcrumbs, rigatoni bolognese with 100% beef short rib in a red meat sauce, and a whole roasted Belle & Evans chicken.
When Richie and Enzo spoke with Hamptons Monthly about the new space and experience it was clear that the project was a labor of love, and they were genuinely excited to bring back some entertainment in 2020.
It’s always fun when we see something new being introduced at an old favorite, which is exactly what you’ve done here! Was this new immersive dining experience something you’ve been thinking about for a while, or more a response to current times and limits to what we can do socially?
Richie Hosein: Etiquette is a passion project inspired by my travels to Mykonos, Saint-Tropez, and the Caribbean. Our team has been building this concept and brand for the past three years, waiting for the right opportunity to launch. We have an incredible space in New York City’s Meatpacking district, but the current pandemic has disrupted our opening plans. The beautiful outdoor garden at Ruschmeyer’s felt like an opportunity where we could go above and beyond in terms of safety precautions, without compromising the integrity of the experience we’d like our guests to enjoy. Even when the pandemic ends, what you can expect from the Etiquette brand is an elevated experience with plenty of space and comfort. We are honored to have the opportunity to reinvent a classic piece of Montauk in a way fit for current times and an incredible future.
With such an expansive outdoor space, Ruschmeyer’s is the perfect venue every summer, but now even more so. It’s always been a hotspot for big groups, but what do you recommend is the perfect number for a table for this particular experience?
RH: We treat every table with the same passion and energy, whether it is a couple looking to enjoy a special moment or an extended family looking for a safe way to socialize outside of the house. Abiding by the current guidelines, the maximum number of people per table is 10. The perfect number is whatever our guests feel comfortable with in light of current circumstances.
Without giving too much away, what can guests expect from the show?
RH: A typical show involves a performance on stage, and an audience watching.
At Etiquette, we put the audience on a metaphorical stage – every aspect of the performance enhancing their experience as the star of the show. Each member of
our staff is incorporated, providing genuine hospitality and delivering an experience directly to the customer’s table. Some of the hardest-working people in the world rarely get the chance to experience the spotlight. We strive for every guest to experience what it feels like to be a celebrity.
Enzo Lentini: When creating a menu, it’s not only based on high-quality food and great ingredients, it’s about preparing the meal around the occasion. By having a theatrical evening, the food should never be heavy or overbearing but still satisfy the palate and the belly, while keeping in mind top-quality food and highest-grade ingredients. I kept the menu light but fulfilling.
We always like to sneak in at least one round of what we call “the perfect pair.” We’ll give a scenario and you help us order: two couples come in for the dinner theater experience on an unbelievably hot August night. What are they ordering, everything from apps and appertifs to mains and after-dinner drinks and dessert to stay cool and enjoy the evening?
EL: On an August night you have to begin the feast with an Aperol Spritz, or a Negroni to stimulate the palate, rose’ all day and night, then cap it off with a nice Montenegro digestive after dinner.
For the food, seafood salad, tonno scottato, heirloom tomato salad, tuna tartar, fresh local oysters, local fresh lobster, and not to mention a zuppa di pesce, which the French made famous. They call it bouillabaisse and it’s just a great linguini con frutti di mare, light and fresh, because pasta is not heavy. It’s the butter and cheese that is added that makes it heavy. If it’s just fresh seafood in a light Mutti San Marzano tomato and white wine sauce, it’s a home run.
On the nights when the show isn’t running you’ve started a series of specialty dinners. Can you tell us a little more about those?
EL: We continue the mood with the food; being Italian, our life revolves around food and not the other way around.
Leave us with this: how would you sum up a dining experience at Etiquette this summer?
RH: The Etiquette brand is defined by three words: sophisticated, refined, and captivating.
Etiquette Montauk at Ruschmeyer’s will be open daily from 12PM-11PM.
161 2nd House Rd., Montauk; 631-528-2701