A Taste of Italy on the East End
Is it any surprise that vacationing New Yorkers, long known for their city’s love affair with Italian food, sometimes crave the good stuff out East? Happily, there are a wealth of top-notch restaurants ready to head any craving off at the pass. From regional Italian fare to the boot’s best sweet treats, getting your fix of Italia in the Hamptons is as easy as deciding exactly what dish will satisfy your urge. Here, five of our favorites for everything from al fresco dining to gracious, multi-course meals.
Tutto Il Giorno Southampton (56 Nugent St., Southampton; 631.377.3611)
Since opening in 2009, Tutto Il Giorno Southampton has been the anti-Hamptons spot for Italian fare in the Hamptons. Founded by friends who were tired of the dining “scene” and just wanted a hearty meal together, it nevertheless boasts a posh pedigree: co-owner Gianpaolo de Felice’s wife, Gabby, channeled her heritage to design the space (Gabby calls Donna Karan “Mom”), and Maurizio Marfoglia of Barolo transplanted his know-how – and his family – out to Southampton to man the stove.
Start your meal with a simple Sardinian flatbread, Pane Carasau, served with extra-virgin olive oil, rosemary and sea salt. Sample local produce in the Fonduta, braised local tomatoes and apricots served with herbed buffalo ricotta. The Astice is also a stand-out: chilled lobster with avocado and crispy polenta. Classic Linguine with clams gets a boost from flamed tomatoes and parsley; tender strands of Fettuccine are tossed with blue crab meat, fava beans, and spicy Calabrian peppers. And of course, there’s no missing the homey-yet-elevated Cartoccio, local striped bass baked in parchment paper with capers, black olives and grape tomatoes. Che brava.
Scarpetta Beach (290 Old Montauk Hwy., Montauk; 631.668.1771)
On the other hand, if you take your Italian fare with a generous helping of East End “scene,” the richest spot is Gurney’s Montauk’s Scarpetta Beach. The sweeping dining room overlooks the water, with breezy strands of lights strung over the polished-to-a- shine hardwood floors. Floor-to-ceiling windows bathe the space in ambient light – but don’t let that distract you from the stunning stuff happening on your plate.
We love sitting oceanside and dining on Braised Octopus, served here with artichoke, celery, and charred scallion. Likewise, the Gnocchetti with lobster, guanciale, and tomato is undeniably summery and nicely takes its cues from the waterfront setting. Other luxe pasta dishes are similarly informed by the local bounty: Black Farfalle with seafood ragout, uni, and herb bread crumbs or Duck and Foie Gras Ravioli with marsala reduction, a clever reinvention of iconic Long Island duck dishes. Complement it with a glass of local Wölffer Estate Chardonnay and you’ve just perfected your Italy-East End hybrid.
CittaNuova (29 Newtown Ln., East Hampton; 631.324.6300)
Seated comfortably beneath the pergola on the patio posteriore (that’s “back patio” for those who don’t parla Italiano), it’s possible to imagine that CittaNuova is in Milano, rather than East Hampton. Both the front and back of the restaurant are open-air dining rooms, with heating lamps for chilly summer nights and twinkling lights to lend an air of magic to your meal.
The menu is expansive and heavy on the classics, from Risotto made with Arborio rice, mushrooms, truffle essence, and Grana Padano to Bruschetta with crushed ripe tomatoes, Tuscan olive oil, and sea salt. There’s also a generous assortment of red and white pizzas, including the Salsiccia, with fennel sausage, San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, and fennel pollen, and the Prosciutto e Arugula, with mozzarella di bufala, Prosciutto San Daniele, arugula, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. But whatever you do, be sure to save room for the dolci, including Pro teroles: pastry puffs with homemade vanilla gelato, roasted almonds, chocolate, and caramel sauce.
Sant Ambroeus (30 N. Main St., Southampton; 631.283.1233)
While the desserts at CittaNuova are a sweet finish, at Southampton’s Sant Ambroeus, they’re practically the main event. An offshoot of the popular NYC gelato spot, Sant Ambroeus offers fun combinations, such as lemon sorbet with Prosecco or or di latte gelato with Grand Marnier. Tack your choice onto their tempting prix fixe dinner menu for one of the East End’s best deals: choose an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert for just $42 per person.
Featured dishes are each offered with a suggested Italian wine pairing, and range from on-trend Insalata Centocolori, tri-colored lettuce with avocado, buffalo mozzarella, and olives, to Trio de Milanese, three slices of breaded veal loin, served with fresh arugula and tomatoes, tomato sauce and Parmigiano Reggiano, and melted buffalo mozzarella. The breezy dining room, with handsome wood paneling and stunning framed black and white photos, is an ideal place for a relaxed lunch among friends – or a romantic evening for two.
DOPO La Spiaggia
(6 Bay St., Sag Harbor; 631.725.7009 | 31 Race Ln., East Hampton; 631.658.9063)
After a swim (literally – the name means “after the sea”), stop by either location of DOPO La Spiaggia for
ocean-inspired Italian fare. Both are beautiful, and the brand-new-for-2017 East Hampton location also boasts half-priced cocktail, beer and wine choices, as well as complimentary bar snacks during their happy hour from Sunday through Friday. The rustic wood-shingled outside gives way to pristine white- and cream-colored dining rooms, off set by picture-perfect white orchids.
The fresh, house-made pastas are a standout; try the Ravioli with buffalo ricotta, zucchini, Parmesan and sage or Squid Ink Tagliolini with bay scallops, shrimp, calamari, chili, and tomato. Fresh seafood is also, expectedly, a highlight, including Tonno, spicy tuna tartare with marinated cucumbers and avocado, and Ippoglosso, pan-seared halibut with farro, purple kale and chanterelles. They may call themselves “after the sea,” but the goodness of the ocean is very much present at DOPO La Spiaggia.