Sophomore Standouts

Four Great Restaurants Back for Year Two

Sag Pizza

Having survived the make- or-break of their first year, these restaurants are stepping into their second Hamptons summer with sure footing that it’s not just their glittering newness that’s drawing the crowds but the caliber of their menus. Fresh French, a gourmet pizza parlor, fish and chips, classic and modern Italian – the concepts of these eateries aren’t groundbreaking, but rather testament to the longevity of well-executed fare and wonderful environments.

Rack of Lamb at Maison Vivienne

Maison Vivienne (136 Main St., South Hampton)

Provence in the summer – the fragrance of the lavender fields, the stone streets of villages clappedout with sandaled feet, the glittering Mediterranean only a short and romantic drive away. Such a dream descends at Maison Vivienne, a hotel and Provençal restaurant that opened last year and took everyone with its southern French charm. Big elephant- ear plants and hydrangeas bring nature into the space, where sun seems to fill everything between the dark wood floors and high cathedral ceilings.

As if to make up for the fact that you’re not actually in France, wine – more than 2,000 bottles – seems to come as easily as water, and meals are lush with all the elements of Julia Child’s dreams. In a single dish, you might have eggplant in ratatouille, minced into caviar and fried to a crisp (the rack of lamb); or figs roasted
and marinated in port wine, puréed sunchoke, and honey lavender glaze (the duck Magret); or mint yogurt and harissa adorning a burger patty made of ground merguez and topped with lamb stew. The French were never known for restraint, and neither is this maison.

Spaghetti alle Vongole at Il Mulino

Il Mulino (108 Wainscott Stone Rd., Wainscott)

When an old building near Georgica Pond opened up a couple of years back, Lee Katzoff decided that perhaps the time was right to bring her family’s stalwart Italian eatery to the Hamptons. Il Mulino, the restaurant in question, has established itself multiple times over in New York City and its boroughs since opening in Greenwich Village in 1981, as well as flinging itself as far west as Las Vegas and as far south as Puerto Rico. But the time for a hop and skip to the Hamptons wasn’t right until last year, and as with most things, patience paid off.

Its Wainscott locale was completely game for being whitewashed and reconfigured to meet
Il Mulino’s standards of contemporary Italian elegance, which is further conveyed on plates of five types of carpaccio – fluke, branzino, striped bass, tuna, beef; linguine di mare heaped to the heavens with the freshest seafood; and chicken parmigiana that still reminds why Il Mulino became such a legend in the first place.

Pepperoni Pizza at Sag Pizza

Sag Pizza (103 Main St., Sag Harbor)

Of all the restaurants that opened last year, perhaps the most hyped was a pizza parlor, which opened in the same space as pizza parlor Conca D’Oro, which held court on Sag Harbor’s Main Street since the 1970s and was the most beloved pie joint in all of the Hamptons. Yet, Sag Pizza managed to pull it off and become one of those rarest of places that lives up to its predecessor’s fame. Stools are set invitingly around a low bar for communal vibes, pies pulled fresh from the oven entice from behind glass cases, and options range from classic four-cheese and pepperoni to mushroom topped with truffle paste and sage, and clams with herbs and lemon.

Rest assured, Conca’s legacy was put into good hands. Sag Pizza only opened in August but has since been carrying on with humility and good cheer, not letting the fact that Jimmy Fallon visited keep it from making the cheesiest heart- shaped pizzas for Valentine’s Day. Open all year, this is a true local locale, though its soft serve – topped with popcorn and berries and hazelnut crumbs – is undoubtedly enjoyed best in the summer.

Fish and Chips at Hooked

Hooked (34 South Etna Ave., Montauk)

Can the Hamptons ever have too many fish shacks? Hooked proves no, but only if the newcomers indeed offer something new. There are weathered, cheap battered grease joints to spare in these parts, which have stuck around for good reason (we all need some cardiac insecurity from time to time). But a no-frills atmosphere where one can grab local oysters and whole steamed lobsters as fresh as any high-brow restaurant but at reasonable prices and with sandy feet has proved a winning combination for Hooked.

Fear not, there are swimwear-conscious options (tuna poke boles, colorful salads with chicken and shrimp add- ons, lobster salad stuffed into the ripest of tomatoes instead
of a buttered bun) as well. In short: highest-grade seafood, mid-range prices and low wait times is an ideal trifecta that, on sweet summer nights, simply can’t be beat.