Summer Bounty

Breaking bread with some of the East End’s buzziest chefs and restaurateurs, from classics to newcomers.
East Hampton’s Serafina is a perfect destination for modern Italian fare.

by Ray Rogers

Canoe Place 

Name: Ülfet Ralph, Executive Chef

Background: I am from a family of fantastic home cooks and I wanted to make my family proud by taking that tradition to the next level. Along the way I have had wonderful mentors in great restaurants in the South and in the Relais & Châteaux network.

Guiding principle: Simplicity, by allowing high-quality ingredients to take the lead

What’s the vibe you foster at your restaurant? Casual elegance

How would you describe your cuisine? Locally sourced, carefully crafted, soulful, Mediterranean-influenced

How do you incorporate wellness into your menus? Featuring vegetable-forward dishes and organic ingredients without preservatives or over-seasoning promotes wellness

Ülfet Ralph of Canoe Place picks fresh herbs and greens. Photo courtesy of Canoe Place Inn

Best-tasting, healthiest dish: Ratatouille, which is my mother’s family recipe and dear to my heart: zucchini, squash, tomatoes, garlic, lemon, olive oil and herbs

What local provisions do you employ in your dishes?
The rhythm of the seasons of our farmer partners’ products will always be the driving force behind our menu.

What thrills your palate about the local, seasonal offerings? The East End’s fertile soil and bountiful waters have so much to offer that my mind races with endless possibilities.

What best describes a Hamptons appetite? Simultaneously sophisticated and comforting

Signature dish: I am excited to simply grill whole fish caught that morning over our wood-burning grill with olive oil and herbs…I could eat that every day.

Best served with: Organic greens with a light vinaigrette and crispy potatoes

Favorite item on the menu: Goat cheese ravioli with English pea puree

How do you like to cook at home? Family style for my friends—happy food, good drinks and lots of laughter.

239 E. Montauk Hwy., Hampton Bays; canoeplace.com

Il Buco Al Mare’s roasted baby artichokes and black garlic skirt steak

Il Buco al Mare

Name: Justin Smillie, Executive Chef

Background: I started working an afterschool job as a dishwasher (Chesapeake Bay Seafood Company). I fell in love with the energy instantly. After cooking in NYC for a few years, I went to work for Jonathan Waxman at Washington Park and later at Barbuto as the chef de cuisine. It was at Barbuto—super-rustic, unfussy and fun—that I began my real journey as a cook and chef.

Guiding principle: Simple plating: It should always look and feel like something that was just made…needs to feel like it was pan-plate-table. Work within the season, and always treat the ingredient in the moment (storage, production and service).

What’s the vibe you foster at your restaurant? High/low unfussy elegance. Homey. Sincere.

How would you describe your cuisine? Locally sourced, globally minded

How do you incorporate wellness into your menus? With my cooking—seasonal, well sourced, trusted and ingredient forward—wellness is built in.

Best-tasting, healthiest dish: Our spring bitter green salad with green almonds, fennel and parsley root—parsley root lends a super “green fresh” feel

What local provisions do you employ in your dishes? Right now: fennel, peaches, bitter greens, herbs, parsley root, cherries, rhubarb, ramps, and chamomile

What thrills your palate about the local, seasonal offerings? Big and bright flavors

What best describes a Hamptons appetite, and how do you feed it? Light, unfussy, well sourced. We do our best to work with local farms (Balsam Farms, Amber Waves, Quail Hill Farm and The Hoppy Acre) and always have an open dialogue with our fish purveyor.

Signature dish: Seared and shaved octopus with favas and cilantro

Best served with: Burrata with cherries and pistachio and yuzu pesto.

Where do you go out to eat on a day off out East? Coche Comedor in Amagansett.

How do you like to cook at home? Over charcoal whenever possible.

231 Main St., Amagansett; ilbuco.com

Highway Restaurant Group now offers top-tier provisions for events via Autostrada, the new catering arm of the company. Photo: Mark Kopko

Highway Restaurant & Bar

Name: Justin Finney, Head Chef

Guiding principle: To use the very best ingredients, whether they are sourced from local farms or the oceans of Japan, and not overcomplicate food

What’s the vibe you foster at your restaurant? A home away from home—we want everyone to feel welcome. We grow tomatoes and chiles on our patio in the summer and it feels just like your backyard garden.

How would you describe your cuisine? Someone said the other day that our menu was like the United Nations. The restaurant would be described as New American cuisine if it was to fit into a category. We do a little bit of everything: We make homemade pasta, sushi and sashimi, Thai curry paste from scratch, we make the best hummus and falafel, and we also do American classics like spit-roasted chicken and cheeseburgers!

How do you incorporate wellness into your menus? Our menu is very vegetable- and fish-forward; because we do everything in-house we are in control of what goes on each dish.

What local provisions do you employ in your dishes? We use all local farms (Balsam Farms, Sagaponack Farm, Quail Hill Farm) and we incorporate those ingredients wherever we can on the menu. We do not scream localism from the rooftops; we just do what is right and buy what we can when it is available.

What thrills your palate about the local, seasonal offerings? I grew up in Ohio, where there isn’t an ocean, so I love all the local fish that are around in the summer.

What best describes a Hampton’s appetite and how do you feed it? The Hamptons appetite leans toward clean and fresh flavors. Our menu features bright, flavorful dishes.

Signature dish: Thai Chicken Stir-Fry. I feel like we would cause a riot on the East End if we were to take it off the menu.

Best served with: A glass of vermentino or Cucumber Tini.

Favorite item on the menu? The Papaya and Crab Salad. It is perfect for the summer—full of texture and flavor! There is no other salad like this in the Hamptons.

Where do you go out to eat on a day off out East? On my day off, I like to eat at The Dock in Montauk.

How do you like to cook at home? I keep the same philosophy that I do in the restaurant—simple and clean flavors with lots of vegetables, taking advantage of all the farm stands and local fish.

What’s the flavor of Summer ’22? Chiles! it’s gonna be a hot one!

290 Montauk Hwy., East Hampton; highwayrestaurant.com

Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia is a chef favorite at The Maidstone. Photo: Adobe Stock
Chef Andrew Doran; Photo by Drew Maloney

The Living Room, at The Maidstone

Name: Andrew Doran, Chef

Background: I learned how to cook from my grandmother and mother growing up in Brooklyn; I quickly discovered my passion for all types of cuisine. Starting at Pacific East in Manhattan to my move out to the Hamptons 20 years ago, I was able to develop my skill set to where I am today.

Guiding principle: I look at a plate as a canvas. It’s my opportunity each day to provide guests with a work of art that is cuisine.

What’s the vibe you foster at your restaurant? The vibe is sophisticated yet casual.

How would you describe your cuisine? Coastal, fresh-caught seafood, refined and nurturing

How do you incorporate wellness into your menus? Dining at The Maidstone is an experience in itself. We want our guests to feel more renewed as they depart than when they arrived.

Best-tasting, healthiest dish: Fresh sushi rolled to perfection

What local produce do you employ in your dishes? All of our produce is hand-picked from Balsam Farms here in East Hampton.

What thrills your palate about the local, seasonal offerings? The fresh handpicked ripened produce is the only way to eat. It brings out the heart of the area.

Signature dish: Branzino Puttanesca

Best served with: Rose Mojito

Favorite item on the menu: Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia

Where do you go out to eat on a day off out East? Harvest On Fort Pond in Montauk

How do you like to cook at home? I like to host a barbecue on my deck and enjoy the sun and family.

What’s the flavor of Summer ’22? Fresh produce, and fresh from the sea

207 Main St., East Hampton; themaidstone.com

Chef Hal Udell

Lobster Roll Southampton

Name: Hal Udell, Chef

Guiding principle: To always provide our guests with the best-quality food, service and value on a consistent basis.

What’s the vibe you foster at your restaurant? We shoot for a casual, fun vibe in a retro-nautical atmosphere.

How would you describe your cuisine? We offer seafood and non-seafood options in addition to a full gluten-free menu, vegetarian choices and homemade desserts.

How do you incorporate wellness into your menus? We use fresh seasonal produce and utilize our charbroil grill to cook the majority of our fresh seafood.

Best-tasting, healthiest dish: Our Hot Lobster Roll over a salad of fresh greens, or our marinated day-boat swordfish with grilled pineapple.

What local provisions do you employ in your dishes? We utilize seasonal produce in our menu, and use local clammers and fishermen too.

What thrills your palate about the local, seasonal offerings? Fresh local produce! The sweetness of the fruits, the crispness of the vegetables and the brilliant and vibrant colors

Signature dish: Our Hot and Classic Cold Lobster Rolls. What’s most notable is that our restaurant in Amagansett was the first to offer lobster rolls on the East End and the New York metro area.

Best served with: Montaukila-Rita or Paumanok Vineyard’s chenin blanc

How do you like to cook at home? I like to smoke meats and cook fresh seasonal vegetables that I pick from my garden.

What’s the flavor of Summer ’22? The flavor of Summer 2022 is finally enjoying what the East End has to offer. People are out, enjoying the beaches, the small towns, spending time with friends and family.

32 Montauk Hwy., Southampton; lobsterroll.com

Rooted sources clean ingredients from local purveyors. Courtesy of Rooted Montauk

Rooted

Name: Demi Gonzalez, Creative Director

Background: Rooted was born in our backyard, quite literally. After both of us being in hospitality for years, Stephanie Williams and I developed a love for hosting friends and family, but we wanted to do it our way. In the summer of 2020, we started throwing intimate dinner parties, and after that, a few of those friends started hiring us to cater their parties and events.

Guiding principle: Welcoming people as if they were guests in our home

What’s the vibe you foster at your restaurant? We found the hospitality industry in Montauk lacked intimacy, so creating a space where people can interact in an intimate setting was the biggest inspiration.

How would you describe your cuisine? Simple and clean ingredients showcasing the natural flavors.

How do you incorporate wellness into your menus? Local and seasonal everything! Being mindful of waste and conscious cooking.

Best-tasting, healthiest dish: Ceviche—no milk, no butter, no dairy, no sugar

What local provisions do you employ in your dishes? Tomatoes, honeydew, fish, and the majority of our cheese and charcuterie is from New York. We try to support local purveyors that care about their farms.

What thrills your palate about the local, seasonal offerings? Knowing that our farmers and purveyors are growing our food with care in the most sustainable way and it is at the peak of its flavor.

Signature dish: Honeydew salad. When we started our private dinners that was a fan favorite. It’s a clean and different take on a summer salad.

Best served with: A glass of pét-nat.

Favorite item on the menu: Lamb meatballs, another fan favorite. The whipped feta paired with the mint chutney is unique and satisfying.

Where do you go out to eat on a day off out East? The Crow’s Nest in Montauk is a staple and their food is always so delicious. Whenever we can get out of Montauk, we love going to Lulu Kitchen & Bar in Sag Harbor and love to see our friends at KonTiki in Greenport.

How do you like to cook at home? We constantly find ourselves hosting, and we love setting the table and preparing our food as if we are at our restaurant. We put so much love and attention to detail in the presentation of the food and ambience around us.

What’s the flavor of Summer ’22? Florals and botanicals! We incorporate and infuse all edible flowers and herbs into our food and house-made drinks.

440 West Lake Drive, Montauk; rootedmontauk.com

Thinly sliced carpaccio with peppery arugula salad at Serafina. Photo courtesy of Serafina

Serafina

Name: Goran Jokic, co-owner Serafina East Hampton

Guiding principle: Service. Quality. Taste. We’re also really welcoming and community oriented. We buy all local seasonal ingredients from East End farmers as well as local meats and seafood.

What’s the vibe you foster at your restaurant? Everyone is welcome at Serafina. We have bachelorette parties, fire department and police retirement parties. Eva Longoria was in the other night. Katie Couric, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Gordon all come in. It’s a really lively, energetic vibe. We get a lot of instructors from SoulCycle and Barry’s Bootcamp too. There’s a lot of mingling at the bar.

How would you describe your cuisine? Modern Italian, mostly from northern Italy

How do you incorporate wellness into your menus? Think of our menu as lighter Italian food. So, our eggplant parm is baked, not fried, served on a bed of broccoli rabe with tomato sauce. Our pizza crust is so light and paper-thin, it’s really not filling. We served 16,000 pizzas in 2021. We use double zero flour but also do gluten-free pizza and pastas. We have six or seven main course salads. Our dressings are homemade, like lemon vinaigrette and fig vinaigrette.

Best-tasting, healthiest dish: Red quinoa with avocado, arugula and extra-virgin olive oil. But we can make anything healthy, like dairy-free pizza.

What local produce/provisions do you use in your dishes? We get all our vegetables from a private farmer in Sagaponack. For seafood and fish, it’s Gosman’s. All our meats are from Cromer’s Market. We import all the Italian specialties from Italy—the ravioli, balsamic, truffle oil, truffle paste, truffles themselves, they’re all Serafina from Italy.

What thrills your palate about the local, seasonal offerings? The East End is like nowhere else in the world. The soil, the climate, that combination of light, air and sun that makes it so special makes growing food here amazing too.

What best describes a Hamptons appetite and how do you feed it? Picky. And we love that. We can accommodate even the pickiest eaters. We welcome any challenging eaters. We’re up to it.

Signature dish, best served with: Black truffle pizza (Tartufo Nero) with chilled Serafina sauvignon blanc.

Favorite item on the menu: Grilled Atlantic salmon from Gosman’s with braised lentils and steamed spinach. I have my second NYC marathon coming up, so I need to stay in shape! My first marathon last year I raised $12K for the Mount Sinai Children’s Hospital Autism Center.

Where do you go out to eat on a day off out East?
K Pasa in Sag Harbor. It’s my second-favorite restaurant out East. They have every kind of taco, the one thing we don’t serve.

What’s the flavor of Summer ’22? Spicy, jalapeño margarita. Everyone is in the mood to get out. We have 70 seats outside for dinner and our bar is indoor/outdoor with open French doors, so it’s really welcoming. I love how everyone can just hang out here.

104 N. Main St., East Hampton; serafinarestaurant.com

Buttery, flaky croissants are a staple at Sant Ambroeus in East Hampton. Photo courtesy of Sant Ambroeus

Sant Ambroeus   

Name: Iacopo Falai, Culinary Director

What’s the best-tasting, healthiest dish you serve? All of our dishes are healthy, as they are made with produce from the best purveyors. I especially enjoy our Piatto di Lenticchie made with warm beluga lentils and ratatouille.

Signature dish: Our Insalata Centocolori—which means “100 colors salad”—is one of our signature dishes that has been on our menu for years. It is made with farm chicory, sliced avocado, vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and Castelvetrano olives.

Best served with: The Insalata Centocolori is delicious and can be a great starter; I would follow it with our Pollo alla Mostarda in Casseruola: roasted chicken breast, mustard, crispy potatoes, spring onion, fava beans, green peas.

Favorite item on the menu: I can’t pass on the Spaghetti Strofinati al Pesto e Pomodoro Piccante Genovese—pesto and spicy tomato sauce.

66 Newtown Lane, East Hampton; santambroeus.com

Henry Roberts brings Aussie brunch faves to The Surf Lodge. Photo courtesy of The Surf Lodge

The Surf Lodge

Name: Henry Roberts, founder and CEO of Two Hands, which is handling Brunch at The Surf Lodge this season.

How did you get your start? My start in the industry came in 2014 when we opened our first Two Hands location on Mott Street in Nolita. That was three years into my now 11-year-long residence in New York City, having transplanted from my hometown of Sydney.

Guiding principle: Our focus has always been to produce fresh and healthy brunch dishes that reflect the café culture of Australia.

What’s the vibe you foster at your restaurant and will be bringing to Surf Lodge brunches? We have always brought a fresh, light and bright coastal vibe to our restaurants, which marries perfectly with the amazing Surf Lodge.

How would you describe your cuisine? Delicious food that you can feel good about eating. It’s packed with nutrition, flavor and color.

How do you incorporate wellness into your menus? We try to balance our meals, from the produce to the proteins. That’s why a colorful plate is so important.

What’s the best-tasting, healthiest dish you serve? Our miso mushroom bowl is packed with flavor and goodness. It is well balanced, with probiotics, proteins and fiber.

What local provisions do you employ in your dishes? Besides constantly trying to work with the most local produce we can, the highlight has been raising our own cattle and pigs for our menu. Back in 2017, my wife and I bought an old farm in the Catskills and began the journey of bringing the paddock to the plate.

What thrills your palate about the local, seasonal offerings? I’m a sucker for a good pickling! Capturing that seasonal high and preserving it in an absolute sucker punch of flavor gets me very excited.

Signature dish: Our banana walnut bread with espresso mascarpone

Best served with: A pinch of sea salt

Favorite item on the menu: Our Salmon Quinoa Bowl, which is grilled salmon, a six-minute egg, turmeric quinoa, hummus, crunchy shaved veggies, avocado, cucumber, seeds and puffed rice.

Where do you go out to eat out East? The Surf Lodge, obviously, I also love heading to the Hideaway.

How do you like to cook at home? Simple and classic. I love slow cooking in the winter and grilling in the summer. With two young kids running around, it’s important to encourage their palates—easier said than done, I know!

What’s the flavor of Summer ’22? Passionfruit. Last year, we collaborated with our friends at Randolph Beer and developed our own Two Hands Passionfruit Hard Seltzer. We’re excited to take that into this summer. 183 Edgemere St., Montauk; thesurflodge.com

 

Plus, don’t miss these newcomers:

The Bushwick pizza joint Roberta’s (240 Fort Pond Rd.) takes over the former Arbor digs by the train station in Montauk, serving up local seafood, house-made bread and legendary pies. Enchanté (210 Hampton Rd.) brings French bistro fare to the old Red Bar Brasserie spot in Southampton. Crash Cantina (32 Lighthouse Rd.) in Hampton Bays features water views and Latin American cuisine. Little Ruby’s Montauk moves in to Ruschmeyers in Montauk, bringing bright, seasonal, Australian-influenced favorites with it.