Calissa Opens in Water Mill

Inspired by the island of Mykonos
Some of the highlights of Calissa’s Greek menu, which includes lamb, whole roasted fish, lobster bucatini, octopus, and lots of traditional spreads. Mikey Pozarik

A new Greek restaurant called Calissa will open on Montauk Highway in Water Mill this weekend, taking over the space occupied a few years back by  Trata East and a slew of short-lived followers.

Inspired by the island of Mykonos, Calissa was previewed in April in an upstairs room at Amali, a Mediterrean-style Greek restaurant in Manhattan, with James Mallios, its managing partner, as host. Mr. Mallios is among the partners also responsible for the New York City restaurants Periyali and Il Cantinori. Unlike the transitory boites of recent summers on the South Fork, the group has signed a long-term lease, indicating a commitment to the area.

For Water Mill, Mr. Mallios promised a Mediterranean piazza vibe and an open-air feeling in the bar and patio. The aesthetic and design will be simple, he said, “inspired by the classic beauty of Mykonos.” 

From the Amali menu, created by Dominic Rice, the executive chef who previously worked at Narcissa and Jean- Georges, foods were served at a long table family style, emphasizing both small and large plates. They included chunky takes on traditional Greek spreads, such as melizana, made from “blistered” eggplant, honey, and mint, and something called kafteri, with chunks of Greek cheese such as feta, and chiles, both served with stacks of warm pita.

A warm salad of grilled romaine lettuce with cherry tomatoes, kopanisti cheese, lamb bacon, and walnuts was a creative take on the familiar wedge. Spit-roasted baby carrots on yogurt with pea tendrils and a surprise platter of tender octopus with potatoes — la plancha — rounded out the appetizers.

The entrees were a lobster bucatini, dry-aged lamb with tzatziki, green beans, and rosemary, and a salt-baked whole red snapper presented in a crust and served in small chunks with dill, olive oil, and lemon.

An indication of what to expect at Calissa might come from a 2014 two-fork Michelin Guide rating of Periyali, which noted it had “maintained not only its popularity but a high standard of cuisine and service” for more than two decades. Similarly, Frank Bruni, in The New York Times in 2005, said, “If you remember what Periyali was like three years or 10 years or even 15 years ago, you know what it’s like today.” That’s a feat few restaurants in New York City and on the South Fork can claim.

Calissa will be open daily at 5 p.m. during the summer, but closed on Tuesdays in May, June, September, and October.