136 Main Street
Dinner nightly, closed Mondays
Nammo’s Estiatoria is a big, beautiful, airy restaurant situated in the Old Post House in Southampton. It was most recently Nello’s Summertime, but may be better known as a summer season disco and lounge. Indeed, there are lots of private cabanas on the back porch and a disco closed off from the main restaurant at this sleepier time of year. The main room — white with accents of Aegean blue here and there — is huge, two stories high with lots of windows and work by various local artists on the walls. The owners are making a go of staying open all winter and have lowered the prices and streamlined the menu. God bless ’em, I wish them the best of luck, but a few things need to be worked on, first and foremost the food.
On a recent visit, my friends and I were the only guests in the restaurant so we chose a cozy corner by a fireplace. The only other people in Nammo’s were the chef from Old Stove Pub, and another fellow with whom he had shared a mutual birthday the night before. Their posture and mumbled conversation suggested it was an awesome birthday celebration. Other than those gentlemen, it was just us, and Emilio, who paid so much attention to us I could have married him on the spot.
Emilio had been playing mixologist recently so we tried two of his new specialty cocktails. One was a hot cider with a bit of Ya Mastiha, a Greek liqueur made from the sap of mastic trees. The other was a refreshing fresh lime juice martini topped with micro-planed lime zest.
The meal began with a delicious platter of nicely toasted pita triangles, a dish of fruity olive oil, and a cream cheese and roasted red pepper dip. It was delicious. For appetizers, we chose a broccoli salad, calamari, and meatballs. The broccoli salad was a tasty surprise. The little florets were just blanched, then dressed in a sweet-tart dressing with golden raisins, strips of red and yellow peppers, and pancetta bacon. The pancetta was actually regular smoked bacon but the whole combination was excellent and light. The calamari was also very good, with a light and crisp crust surrounding still-tender calamari. This was served with the same cream cheese red pepper dip. The beef meatballs were also very good, three fairly large, fluffy, and well-seasoned meatballs with a simple homemade tomato sauce. The menu said they were served with a yogurt balsamic dressing but we didn’t detect any. They had a hint of mint in them, just about the only Greek accent up to that point.
For entrees we ordered the grouper, braised lamb pappardelle, and chicken souvlaki. I had hoped for a classic Greek whole fish simply prepared with olive oil and lemon but Emilio insisted the last piece of “fresh” fish in the kitchen was, in fact, not. Sadly, the grouper was a bland square of fish. The side dishes were far better, a light slaw of thinly sliced fennel with dill and lemon and a superb green apple and celery root puree. The braised lamb pappardelle had good flavor, but the pasta was pre-al dente, a bit chewy and undercooked. The chicken souvlaki (marinated chicken on skewers) was overcooked and a bit dry. The lemon potato served with it was good, though. There were a few other entrees that sounded more Italian and American than Greek, a wild mushroom pasta with truffle oil, and a heritage pork chop with asparagus.
Prices at Nammo’s are very reasonable. Appetizers are $8 to $12, entrees are $16 to $25, sides are $7, and desserts are $7 and $8.
There are currently only two desserts on the menu, baklava and loukoumades, but Emilio had an extra special one he gave us, leftover from a previous party. The baklava was excellent, although served ice cold from the fridge. It had a good balance of walnuts and pistachios, the phyllo crust was still crisp and the honey syrup very floral and cinnamony. The loukoumades (little round Greek donuts) were also great, warm and yeasty with a drizzle of more honey and a dainty scoop of vanilla cinnamon ice cream. The extra treat was chocolate mousse served in a martini glass. It, too, was very good, creamy and rich.
I wish very much for Nammo’s to succeed in the off-season. It is a beautiful space with a manager who truly cares. I wish there were a few more Greek offerings (taramasalata, haloumi, moussaka!), and I wish the kitchen cared as much as Emilio does. Most of all, I wish them good luck.