This is the season of new Montauk restaurants, with more of them to choose from in the eastern hamlet than ever before. Several had soft openings last week and have been pretty busy ever since.
The Coast on South Euclid Avenue, where Luigi’s used to be, had a crowd last Thursday, its first day. The bar, which in keeping with the coastal theme is called the Sandbar, was filled, the tables there and in the dining room were also filled, and a crowd of locals milled outside near the dock pilings, at slatted wood tables and chairs.
Inside, the sushi bar was jumping. Trays of seafood samples were passed around — ceviche on serving spoons, panko-crusted scallops, mussels, and more, followed by foods for all tastes: pasta dishes, steaks, burgers, and a variety of fresh seafood.
The owners are Sue and Tony Berkhofer and Serena and Dustin Schick, all of whom have worked in other Montauk restaurants. Mr. Berkhofer, the executive chef, has worked at West Lake Clam and Chowder House and Sloppy Tuna. Mr. Schick, the sous-chef, was also at the Clam and Chowder House, and has cooked on fishing boats as well. Ms. Schick, the bar manager, is a licensed boat captain and has worked on her parents’ boat, the Lazybones, for many years. Ms. Berkhofer, the general manager, has worked at Solé East and other establishments hereabouts.
The Coast will feature innovative cuisine using the freshest seafood available. As the transition continues, what doesn’t work will be removed and replaced with something different, said Ms. Berkhofer.
Capt. Michael Vegessi, Ms. Schick’s father-in-law, who was dining there on Sunday, said that “Chef Tony is so creative that he can pull a whole new menu out in one day.” He added that Mr. Berkhofer is “experimenting with flavors and marinating, and receptive to feedback.”
The Coast will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. until it empties out, said Ms. Berkhofer, with brunch on Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., starting on Mother’s Day. The menu is online at thecoastmontauk.com.
Diners will find new faces and familiar places at Sammy’s, on West Lake Drive in the harbor area. Samuel Joyce, a Montauk native who was the head chef at Gosman’s restaurant for 34 years, has just opened his own place, something he has always dreamed of. “I live in Montauk, I always wanted to have a restaurant in Montauk,” he said on Monday while relaxing over a cup of coffee with his night bartender, Lenny DeFina, who recently sold Lenny’s on the Dock and was planning to move to Florida. “But Sammy called and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” he said, gold bracelets jangling.
The restaurant is decorated with sepia-tone and black-and-white photographs from the collection of Mr. Joyce’s mother, Peggy Joyce, who was a longtime kindergarten teacher at the Montauk School.
Since Sammy’s is so close to the docks, a pleasant briny scent lingers as you enter. Potted flowers are abundant, and outdoor wicker seating invites conversation, maybe while visitors are waiting for a table. Mr. DeFina made it a point to mention that Mr. Joyce does not let a plate be served until he has put the final touches on it, with added seasonings and garnish. The menu is informal and includes nachos, oysters, baked clams casino, mussels, soups, salads, sandwiches, and entrees, which can be ordered tapas style or “grazing‚” as Mr. Joyce called it. So far, said Mr. DeFina, scallops, shrimp, mushroom caps, and lobster tacos have been big sellers, with repeat diners.
Patrons can eat at the bar, or outside when weather permits. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; to midnight in summer. Children are welcomed with a kid-style menu and coloring games. There will be a special menu for Mother’s Day.
Speaking of Gosman’s, it too has undergone a revamp, with a new chef, David Piacente, new menu items, new glassware and plates, and a whole new style of food, although it wouldn’t be Gosman’s without its traditional seafood meals and lobster, which remain. The seaside restaurant at the mouth of the harbor is open every day for lunch and dinner except Tuesdays.
ZumSchneider MTK, Bavarian Bierhaus, had its soft opening on Saturday and drew a sizable crowd. Located on South Emery Street in the downtown area where Oyster Pond used to be, it boasts over 25 beers on tap along with bottled beer, and a slew of German dishes that include fish, meat loaf, grilled trout, soups, and pork. Owned by Sylvester Schneider and family, the restaurant will continue its soft openings for the next few weekends until May 21, when it will be open full time. More information is available at zumschneider.com.
And coming soon: Sloppy Tuna, on the oceanfront South Emerson Street location where Nick’s used to be, underwent a winter renovation and will open by Memorial Day. The owners have hired a local chef, Reed Lucas, and have wisely improved upon their great view with an upstairs bar overlooking the sea. There are also new restrooms and a new menu.
Jennifer Meadows, who is the chef at Fishbar, will soon open Bliss Kitchen in downtown Montauk. It will serve fish tacos, burritos, specialty sandwiches and pannini, ceviche, and other specials
The renovation continues at Swallow East on West Lake Drive, a branch of Swallow in Huntington. The former home of Lenny’s on the Dock, it too is expected to open by Memorial Day.
It doesn’t look good for Salivar’s this year. The restaurant has just started a major cesspool project and remains boarded up.