Rookies of the Year

2019’s Best New Batch of Restaurants

Every August, we check in to see which of the Hamptons’ first- year restaurants are not only looking set to see another turn around the sun but also turned their first one with flying colors. Here are the seven stars of Summer 2019.

Coche Comedor (74 Montauk Hwy., Amagansett)

Seasonally rotating sangria on-tap is only the baseline of what Coche Comedor has to offer. About as elevated as Mexican cuisine can be short of experimental fine-dining. Don’t come here for tacos – there’s only one found on the menu, and they’re mini-sized, filled with tuna tartare – but for a ceviche lunch from the inspired version of a raw bar, or a group dinner where the food will be a focus. Made-for-sharing portions of wood-grilled octopus, duck fried rice, and fresh queso fundido with chorizo and green chili are among the starters, followed by duck glazed in apricot and tamarind, pork rib carnitas, cod al pastor, and chicken adobe that can serve up to four, with mole that includes no less than 24 ingredients. The sides are equally worth exploring, be it the spicy potatoes fried in duck fat, or the hand-pressed tortillas you’ll need to scoop up every remaining drop.

 

Blu Mar Hamptons (136 Main St., Southampton)

If your wallet is too heavy in your pocket, perhaps a caviar menu and 200-plus- bottle wine list is an appealing way to solve the problem. Set in the newly opened Harpoon House Hamptons hotel, Blu Mar Hamptons is the new fabulous Mediterranean seafood restaurant on the block, from Manhattan chef Terrence Brennan who has headed east to focus fully on what can be done with oceanic offerings. Like a Greek island taverna, much of what’s on offer is whole grilled fish, from either the U.S. or Mediterranean, but always wild-caught, and often something not typically found in Hamptons restaurants – sardines, porgy, red mullet, rascass. Brennan is clearly staking his claim in these soils with inventions like white almond-and- grape gazpacho, monkfish osso bucco, homemade squid-ink pasta with prawns and shellfish emulsion, and even a take on the Greek salad that involved burrata and watermelon. It’s all worth the price tag.

 

Morty’s Oyster Stand (2167 Montauk Hwy., Amagansett)A more down-at-heel but no less noteworthy seafood spot is Morty’s Oyster Stand. With its environs charmed out Wes Anderson–style with nautical patterned wallpaper, striped kitchen napkins, and woven rattan chairs, Morty’s dishes up highbrow finger-food for lunch – steak sandwiches, oyster po’boys, fish tacos – and heightened low- brow mains like fried chicken with celeriac slaw and a $34 lobster roll piled with the freshest pink meat for dinner. The menu is the brainchild of chef Sam Talbot, the TV personality behind the Surf Lodge’s much-beloved eatery, and Morty’s is already on track to have a similar cult clientele, coming for – if nothing else – oysters pulled from beds that morning.

 

Union Burger Bar (40 Bowden Sq., Southampton)

Hands down, the best new burger on the block goes to Union Burger Bar. But, coming from the same restaurateurs behind Union Cantina – within which the burger bar resides – and Southampton Social Club – just around the corner – this is no surprise. This small but growing empire of Southampton hotspots remains steadily popular for its buzzing atmospheres and casual-chic cuisine, which at this latest addition comes as Niman Ranch black Angus beef that’s humanely raised, grass- fed, free of hormones and antibiotics.

Offerings are endless as you can build your own, but a number of burgers designed by chef Scott Kampf show how creative the art of the burger can be: the Mac Attack! comes topped with mac and cheese on a pretzel bun, while the Breakfast Burger comes on an English muffn with cheddar oozing over hashbrowns, bacon, and a fried egg. As for the atmosphere, it’s set in an old, handsome speakeasy from the Prohibition days that used to house Union Cantina’s special tequila bar – which is to say, forego the beer for cocktails.

 

Bostwick’s on the Harbor (39 Gann Rd., East Hampton)

Best new sunset views come at Bostwick’s on the Harbor, a gussied up version of Bostwick’s Chowder House, Montauk Highway traded for the East Hampton Harbor Marina and fried seafood platters for steamed lobsters, yellowfin with ginger butter, swordfish in olive oil and lemon, and citrus-flaked fluke drizzled with champagne beurre blanc with a salad of fresh herbs. Yes, there’s still a fried option – local fluke – but it’s only tipped into the oil after it’s been battered in a rich recipe of Guinness and malt vinegar. Bostwick’s had a star first summer, claiming real estate not just on this list but also on every other like it, proving that sometimes solid reputation and surprise- free sophistication remain just as valued as wild creativity. That said, a weekday happy hour with $5 draft beers and $8 craft cocktails doesn’t hurt, especially when the sky begins to turn pink over the harbor.

 

Showfish (32 Star Island Rd., Montauk)Showfish, the new destination restaurant set within Gurney’s Star Island Resort and Marina in Montauk, is one of the finer products of a $13 million renovation, focused on the freshest seafood and reservation-to-bill finesse. In the Farm Abbreviation Codes box on the menu, you’ll find “F.V.,” which stands for “fishing vessel” and indicates all the items that come fresh from the sea that morning, often from vessels anchored in Gurney’s own docks: seared scallops with duck prosciutto, lobster fashioned into a unique bisque with pickled salsify, and roasted tilefish with braised leaks and crab toast are a few. The fruits de mer towers defy the usual by detailing their mussels with curry and octopus with marinade, and one, at $460, comes topped with caviar. Cheers to one of the best meals of your summer with a cocktail at Showfish Bar, set separately in the resort’s iconic lighthouse.

 

Paolo’s East (341 Pantigo Rd., East Hampton)

For the past couple of summers, Manhattan’s Michelin darling Eleven Madison Park has opened a pop-up outpost in the Hamptons that’s equally been a jewel of warmer season. This year, the space was taken up by a more permanent island-hopped resident: Paola’s East, the Hamptons rendition of the Upper East Side institution Paola’s. Headed primarily by Italian chef Paola Bottero’s son Stefano, Paola’s had a standout first year for its unscrupulous attention to ingredients as well as welcome- to-the-family hospitality. Local seafood and vegetables and herbs from the backyard garden make the classic menu unique to its locale, with highlights being the seafood salad, homemade pastas, wild swordfish, and extensive dolci menu, whose ricotta and mascarpone cheesecake can’t be ignored. Check the online events schedule to find which nights offer live jazz.