The restaurant, we should say dining, scene on the East End of Long Island is exciting and so ever-changing it is almost impossible to keep up. Hamptons restaurants tend to be expensive but most are worth it. Watching and waiting to see what new ones are opening up each season has become a local sport and pastime, almost as much fun as gossiping about real estate. There is something for everyone here, from the family friendly to celebrity ogling to romantic waterfront dining.
The well-known, been-around-forever establishments range from tried-and-true Italian, like Sam’s in East Hampton, to the more glamorous Nick and Toni’s and Topping Rose House. There are little hideaways like, well, the Hideaway in Montauk. A few corporate giants have found a home here, like the Palm and East Hampton Grill — but little in the way of fast food.
The slow-food movement, based on using foods from local sources, has caught on around the world, but has essentially been a way of life out here forever. With the bounty of fresh fish and locally grown produce, you can find a local striped bass on your plate surrounded by just-dug fingerling potatoes and a crisp bright salad of greens from the chef’s kitchen garden.
The majority of Hamptons restaurants, however, tend to focus on seafood and are generally American in style, some with a French or Italian accent. But there are plenty of Japanese establishments, and a few vegetarian, Greek, and Central American as well.
There are plenty of waterfront restaurants, most only open in season. These range from the Mediterranean Andrra on Three Mile Harbor Road in East Hampton, to the Beacon in Sag Harbor and Bell and Anchor on Noyac Road, both seafood-centric establishments.
In Montauk you can explore some of the newer, trendy spots, like South Edison and Ruschmeyer’s or go for a steamed lobster on the water at Gosman’s or Duryea’s. At Wok’n’Roll, a Chinese restaurant above Plaza Sports, the motto is “You hook ’em; we cook ’em.” Bring in your freshly caught fish, and it will come back to your table with sauces like fermented black bean and ginger. Have a gang to feed? Take them to East by Northeast or Harvest on Fort Pond where the portions are family style, i.e., huge! Inlet Seafood, opened by six fishermen, serves some of the best and freshest sushi around.
On the highway between Amagansett and Montauk, check out the Clam Bar and the iconic Lobster Roll, also known as “Lunch.” These places are only open during the warm season and feature such local delicacies as puffer fish and clam bellies and all manner of fried tidbits.
East Hampton and Amagansett have a concentration of some of the better restaurants, such as the 1770 House and the aforementioned Nick and Toni’s, while in Amagansett you will find the family-friendly Meeting House and authentic Mexican at D’Canela and La Fondita.
A good number of the restaurants in East Hampton Village are open year round. Cittanuova serves light and creative Italian fare, Rowdy Hall the best burgers and mussels. Upstairs, the 1770 House is grand and romantic; downstairs, its tavern is cozy and warm. Sam’s, on Newtown Lane, serves the best thin-crust pizza out here, although for take-out pizza try Pasquale’s at the Red Horse Market. Fresno, on an East Hampton backstreet, has its aficionados for well-made dishes, many with a Moroccan twist.
Sag Harbor serves a more concentrated, year-round community and the restaurant scene is evidence of that. The marvelously Victorian American Hotel serves high-end continental cuisine with one of the best wine lists in the country. Sen offers creative sushi, and LT Burger will satisfy your burger and shake cravings. Tutto il Giorno, a charming, tiny spot tucked away on Bay Street, offers expensive but worth it pastas and other Northern Italian dishes, and the Dockside right next door has a loyal following for its New American cuisine and healthy menu options.
Bridgehampton has two excellent French restaurants, Pierre’s, which also offers delicious freshly baked-on-the-premises croissants and pastries, and the more gutsy bistro-style Almond. Yama-Q has a superb selection of sushi and inventive, seafood-centric kitchen dishes, and World Pie has great pizzas and salads. Topping Rose House, opened by Tom Colicchio of Food Network and Craft fame last fall, has become one of the more high-end destination restaurants on the scene. The much-touted South Fork Kitchen in Bridgehampton, however, has closed its doors; Former American Hotel chef, Todd Jacobs, has opened a vegetable-oriented restaurant inits place.
Water Mill has Suki Zuki for sushi and a small but hidden gem with a loyal following, Mirko’s.
Southampton has one of the best seafood restaurants out here, the Plaza Cafe, along with a seasonal favorite for the well-heeled, St. Ambreous.
And don’t forget to explore beyond the Hamptons; Shelter Island has the sexy and trendy Sunset Beach and Maison Blanche, and the North Fork scene is changing faster these days. Riverhead is enjoying a revival with the Riverhead Project, housed in a stately old Chase Bank building, and folks go to Luce & Hawkins at the Jedediah Hawkins Inn and the North Fork Table and Inn for haute cuisine.