The Jolly Fisherman: The Best Seafood
This restaurant is a landmark on Long Island. This year, they are celebrating 50 years in business. The food is excellent and the ambience homey. Service is very good and on weekends, when its most busy, reservations are virtually mandatory. There is valet parking.
Favorite Dish: My favorites seafood is Alaskan King Crab legs. I had these for my birthday and were the best I had ever had. Though pricy, they were definitely worth it.
Riverbay Seafood Bar and Grill: consistent excellence in seafood
CLOSED - SOLD THE LAND TO TD BANK FOR A BLOODY FORTUNE.
ALLEGEDLY TO REOPEN IN THE SPACE FORMERLY OCCUPIED BY TRATA IN ROSLYN --- CHECK IT OUT.
Located about as far from the shoreline as one can be on Long Island, Riverbay has for many years provided an excellent dining experience. Under the same ownership as a tony upscale North Shore steakhouse, prices are surprisingly reasonable with entrees largely below 25US$ and appetizers below $10 except lobster. . Decor and ambience simulate the shorefront places. All the seafood seems fresh on several visits. Given the ownership I imagine the steak offerings are also pretty good but I have never seen one. The best offerings are the simple grilled fish along with the raw shellfish. Valet parking is provided. Reservations are not accepted - expect long waits. And note - this place is about seafood, not booze. The martinis are average at best and there is no exotic martini menu at all. 1/25/06 --- recent visits confirm Riverbay as a premiere dining destination. A short exotic martini menu has been added. 7/2/06 - this place, for the time being at least, has entered a phase where they don't do anything wrong.
Favorite Dish: raw shellfish appetizers, grilled salmon, swordfish (not politically correct - endangered), tilapia. When available as a special, the wild salmon is great at 25.50$US. On our most recent trip, whole branzino was very good.
- Food and Dining
Tutto il Giorno: Hamptons Chic
An upscale predominantly Italian restaurant just north of the Southhampton Village is owned by Gabby Karan, daughter of designer Donna Karan. Set in a white building with the restaurant name indicated only be a blackboard on a bench in front, Tutto il Giorno is soooo typical of upscale Italian restaurants on the Hamptons. The crowd is hip although a bit older than average for the area, the food very good but not breathtaking, the prices exorbitant as expected, and the decor sophisticated. The white room features a big wooden chandelier, lovely white orchids on the larger tables, lots of wood, and both uncomfortable chairs and benches softened by pillows.
In comparison to the Sag Harbor restaurant of the same provenance, we found the tables a little farther apart, the service still harried but perhaps somewhat less condescending, and the high noise level slightly less. There is a great outdoor dining terrace but be warned that these tables go first.
Prices are high of course ( this is Southampton ), with appetizers $15-20, a selection of both standard and interesting pastas mostly in the high $20s, and almost all entrees over $30. The restaurant favors Italian specialties and particularly seafood, which our party ordered. A tricolore salad at $14 was large enough to share, drizzled in a parmesan balsamic dressing, quite good. Our entrees, labeled secondi piatti, included roasted branzino and a very good oven roasted halibut with baby artichokes and potatoes, artfully arranged and dressed in a lemon tinted sauce ( the menu specifies house preserved lemons - a bit of pretention there ). All sides are $10 - not sure we actually ordered them but a large bowl of truffled fried potatoes which suddenly appeared was also excellent.
Specify early on that tap water will be fine, or the expensive bottled waters will appear. Prices for coffee, tea, soda, wine - these can really run up an already large tab.
Overall, this venue is a more enjoyable experience than the insanity of the little Sag Harbor original, located at 5-6 Bay Street, telephone 725 7009. The food is very good at both and we can recommend them.
City Cellar: Excellent Upscale Pub Dining
City Cellar is the first Long Island venue for the Big Time Restaurant group which has many outposts, most located along the southeastern coast of Florida (West Palm, Delray, Boca Raton), all of which we have previously visited. This is the most upscale of the 10 or more large scale chain restaurants adjacent the extensive shopping of Old Country Road, Merchants Concourse, and Corporate Drive in Westbury.
A large free-standing building with both free and valet parking, decor includes black leather and dark wood trim set in a room with a very high ceiling. The center is occupied by an impressive, crowded, and expensive bar. The open kitchen features a brick oven. A striking glass door guards the entrance to a large wine cellar, hence the name. Friendly and competent service seems a hallmark of this chain. The large tables and larger circular banquets are adequately spaced.
The wide ranging menu features appetizers and salads from $12-18, pastas often complex from $18-23, and entrees at $23-35. A large array of exotic desserts are all $7.50. For lunch, only salads and sandwiches are available at below $15 (barely). The extensive menu is best appreciated on the website, hard to describe in the space available here, and worth a visit.
The very crowded bar offers its own entertainment with a large very attractive singles crowd as well as many groups waiting for tables. But anticipate an extremely noisy environment especially at mid evening.
Reservations are not available and wait time can exceed one hour at prime time - we have walked out occasionally because the waiting time was astronomical. With good reason.
Favorite Dish: The martinis are excellent - no surprise here.
Both in Westbury and at the three Florida locations we have ordered a wide range of meals and found them all to be excellent.
We love this place and think you will also.
Lawson's Pub: Continental Cuisine
This restaurant bears the name of a previous eatery with the same name. However, this one has quite a different menu. This eatery has an excellent menu featuring an assortment of American and Continental Dishes, many with a twist. They have a variety of sandwiches, salads and entrees that have made it the talk of the town.
They have several signature dishes. Most notable is their Signature LP Black Angus Burger, topped with lobster salad, cheddar & bacon. Yum!!
Favorite Dish: My personal fav is a sandwich humorously called Pigs Ass. Another Signature dish. it is the famous roast pork sandwich with a little twist, thinly sliced roasted pork butt, duck sauce & Muenster on toasted garlic bread. Simply delicious.
Estia's Little Kitchen: Superb Breakfasts with a Mexican Touch
This unassuming little spot just south of Sag Harbor is rated by Zagat's as the third best breakfast venue on Long Island, all the more astounding given its out of the way location and small size. It opened in 1998 in a roadside shack previously Tony's Coffee Shop, a bit of a legend itself. The largely Hispanic service staff is efficient and seem genuinely friendly, quick to make substitutions and changes. The two rooms are small and undecorated, except for some historic pictures at the very small entrance. The restaurant offers a full lunch and dinner menu emphasizing Mexican food made with locally sourced vegetables and fish priced, for the Hamptons, quite reasonably with entrees under $25.
But Estia's lives and dies with its famous breakfasts. The gravel carpark is jammed, the waiting line out the door of the small building - in the off season. Breakfast burritos, omelets, pancakes, french toast, cereals - many standard offerings, also made customized to order -as well as breakfast plates. A huge selection. Our posse raved over the food here. And some of the best coffee in the Hamptons. Highly recommended.
Almond: french bistro in the hamptons
Decorated with the obligatory framed mirrors and dated photographs, Almond offers typical bistro fare at reasonable prices (for the Hamptons). The result is large crowds and the need for reservations. The menu is limited to about 7 appetizers ($7-15) and seven or eight entrees ($19-32) and a very few specials. All the meals we had were good, but be warned that everything pretty much is richly sauced - if you dont like rich sauces, dont go. There are multiple wines by the glass at $7-9. There is no exotic martini menu and the martinis are merely average which is not terrible for the hamptons.
Favorite Dish: steak frites - classical and good but a bit too much sauce, veal, and fish dishes. The almond float dessert is a retro treat -try it. Chocolate sorbet was terrific also.
- Food and Dining
B Smith -2011 update: Dining at the Sag Harbor Marina
Barbara Smith is a noted personality - former and current model, expert on life style and decor - with three restaurants located on Restaurant Row in Manhattan, the Sequoia in Georgetown Washington DC, and this Sag Harbor venue. Much is made of the heritage of chef John Poon with French training combined with experience at many large restaurants including America and Saloon in New York and Sequoia. He is noted for created interpretations of classic dishes, of which there are plenty at B. Smith.
The bar at B. Smith is a problem - one companion sent back a straight scotch twice for a watered - down drink. Two martinis for me - both remarkably impotent.
A large raw bar menu at market price, several soups at $12 including creamed lobster chowder, and an appetizer list at $16-20 including mussels, thai-spiced chicken wings, curried oysters, and shrimp dumplings serve for starters. Salads in the $14 range were mundane. The entrees range from multiple lobster entrees ( see below ), chicken, ribs, rack of lamb, and multiple steak offerings averaging $35. Prices are typical high Hamptons level. But like most Hamptons restaurants, quality does not necessarily follow price. Nobody really comes here for high quality dinners, famous chef or not.
B Smith is all about venue - the interior is modern black and white, the favored tables are out on the deck overlooking the marina with innumerable large luxury yachts and overlooking the harbor with the potential for amazing sunset views. And the crowd - pure upscale Hamptons - poorly shaven men with t-shirts and jeans, women in expensive and frequently risque outfits and plenty of jewelry.
Favorite Dish: The house specialties center on lobster and steak - a lobster salad placed in the shell of a lobster with the meat remaining in the claws at $40 and 1.5 and 2.5 lb. lobsters at $40 and $50. Fresh tasty clams on the half shell and the renowned lobster salad plate made for a very adequate meal. Steaks on an adjoining table looked very nice.
1.5 stars for food, 5 stars for location and venue.
2011 update === nothing has changed here, same high price decent but nowhere near good food, less crowded, and at least on the July 4 weekend a considerably less upscale clientele.
- Food and Dining
Bobby Van's: My Favorite Hampton's Restaurant
Bobby Van, a noted piano player and actor, opened his eponymous eatery in 1969 immediately attracting the upscale and the literati of the Hampton's most famously Truman Capote and Irwin Shaw. In 1992, he sold out to a group of NYC restauranteurs who remain in control. The restaurant continues to attract the very wealthy and the very beautiful to lunch, dinner, a famed Sunday brunch, and a crowded bar scene. A recent redecoration includes skylights and grass-like wallpaper but the comfortable wicker chairs and wide windows opening onto Main Street remain unchanged. For a very upscale restaurant, the ambience is surprisingly calm and stress-free. The young and attractive ( I rarely use this word for servers ) servers are knowledgeable, competent, and do not hurry the diners to turn over tables.
Bobby Van's is not cheap, even for the Hamptons, with most appetizers and salads from $10 - mostly $20. There are very few entrees less than $25 and most in the $30 - 45 range. Lobsters, shellfish, and the porterhouse steak for two - you figure it out. Steaks are al a carte with an assortment of $ 7 - 10 sides including onion rings, the obligatory creamed spinach, and four or five potato variants. Other entrees include sides mercifully. The comprehensive wine list is said to be one of the best on Long Island, but with only a very few bottles below $35. Martinis are about $12-15 but uniformly well made.
The lunch menu offers an entirely different menu selection, not cut down versions of dinner entrees, with more appetizers and salads, a host of sandwiches, and different mains. The menu for the famed brunch is largely egg-oriented with omelettes and benedict variants --never been here for brunch -- and said to be superb. Most menus are supplemented by a long list of specials handwritten on wall-mounted blackboards, often without prices - ask.
When offered the opportunity, Bobby Van's is my overwhelming restaurant of choice in the Hamptons. Over the years we have fallen in love with the $15 hamburger with great shoestring fries, the unfailingly moist flavorful roast half chicken, and well turned out steaks. Fish dishes are perfect including tuna, sea bass, and snapper. The Harry salad is almost a meal in itself with shrimp, string beans, red peppers, bacon, and onions. Among the appetizers, crab cakes with mustard sauce and mussels are standouts.
In the last several years, branches of Bobby Van's have opened in Washington DC and New York City. Speaking at least for the New York venues, reviews have been mixed and these places are presumably far less compelling than the original.
Favorite Dish: After multiple visits over 20 or more years, there is nothing on the menu I would not recommend assuming it appeals. Bobby Van's is first rate and certainly among the best restaurants in the Hamptons, my personal favorite for the food, the martinis, and the ambience.
LaMotta's: Dining at the Marina
This upscale restaurant is perched at the edge of the Port Washington marina overlooking Manhasset Bay and the docked yachts and pleasure boats, with an open patio bar over the water and a markedly underdecorated dining area on a platform also built over the edge of the bay. Advertising itself as "American cuisine with global influences", the truth is a menu divided between typical seafood offerings and Italian food, with an occasional Asiatic preparation like Drunken Fire Pot Shrimp. Service is perfunctory but the food and drinks do arrive. The martinis are but average. We generally order seafood here and are always pleased with grilled fish - large well prepared portions, often with some sophitication in the side dishes. Specialties of the restaurant include the Clam Chowder Boule' served in a superb hollowed out roll. The classic Frutta de Mare over linguini, complex pastas, the Drunken Fire Pot Shrimp - spicy shrimp with sticky rice -- all good. Barbecued ribs ( massive portion) and steak are also available. Typical Long Island prices prevail - appetizers $9-15, pastas $13-20, and entrees $16-30.
Favorite Dish: Clam Chowder Boule' - $6 - the roll is as good as the soup.
Grilled fish - always done just right.
We have not had the ribs, but this is a very popular entree. Many people order the Italian selections, but overlooking the water somehow it seems inappropriate to us.
Buongusto: Very Good Italian Restaurant
This upscale Italian restaurant is housed in a converted brick bank building on the eastern edge of Roslyn village. The decor is simple and service is effective. Appetizers, individual pizzas, and appetizers are all in the $ 7-9 range, pastas $ 12-15, and entrees $16-20 except for a $22 steak. Tuesday nights are pasta nights, full all you can eat dinners for about $15 and Thursday nights are seafood dinner nights with complete meals for $25. In general, the food is quite good here and there are rarely disappointments. The basic martini is well made. This restaurant offers good value for the money and we eat here often.
Favorite Dish: We have been very pleased with the pasta and chicken choices and have no gripes with respect to the martinis either. A rather long wine list is available, by the bottle or glass.
Fanatico: Italian Bistro and Bar
This large crowded Italian restaurant occupies a space in a dumpy Waldbaum's mall previously housing a multitude of failed stores. Completely renovated, with a shiny aluminum facade, modern earthtone decor, a bar, and a large open kitchen, it attracts a surprisingly large crowd often requiring a short wait before seating. The extensive menu is very reasonably priced and lists a large selection of appetizers and salads mostly $7-9, individual and full sized pizzas at $9 and $14-24, many pastas at $11-15, and many entrees almost all below $20. This is not haute cuisine by any means, but the food is surprisingly good, the portions large, and the service efficient.
And the martini is far better than one would anticipate.
APRIL 2008 UPDATE - two recent visits confirm the above, very favorable visits. SEPTEMBER 2009 UPDATE - three more visits, same opinion. An excellent choice for neighborhood-style Italian dining.
Favorite Dish: Open only a few months, Fanatico has attracted a yes fanatical following of local residents - including one friend who eats here frequently - and apparently does not disappoint. On our last visit, a complex pasta with sausage and a large gorgonzola salad were both very good.
Muse: Complexly complex dining in the Hamptons
Selected by Newsday as a 2008 Top Ten New Restaurant, Muse is the latest occupant of a modest space in a small shopping mall, with a new face appearing almost annually. Sparsely decorated with yellow walls, black sconces, and a Mexican tile floor it has attracted considerable interest with its eclectic menu and intricate offerings. Service is serviceable. The martinis are adequate but not great ( typical of the Hamptons ). Prices are not high for the south fork with soups and salads under $10, appetizers $15-20, and entrees $25-35. On Sunday and Thursday a $30 three course prix fixe is offered but most of the selections have added cost of $2-10. Entrees and particularly appetizer portions are pretty modest in size. Ornate desserts are a modest $8.The clientele is more Water Mill and less typical of the Hamptons - quiet, conservatively dressed, no bar scene, no "beautiful people".
Menu items are not so much prepared as constructed by chef Matthew Guiffrida who seems unable to leave well enough alone. Every item ( salmon and steak can be ordered plain grilled ) is gussied up with all sorts of frippery. Many of the appetizers offer several variations on a theme, such as meatballs in four sauces - spicy asian chili sauce, italian tomato and parmesan, cranberry and caramelized vidalia onions, swedish, etc. A 16$ tuna appetizer featured tuna tartare with moroccan vegetable tabouli and a wonton crouton as well as a postage stamp size piece of jerked tuna called a lollipop on whipped avocado - lots of print, very little food, not anything to write home about. A blackened cod appetizer comes with corn masa, avocado and asian pear salsa, and chili aioli - very little of each.
Entree preparation may even be more complex and overwrought - the critics must have loved the seeming audacity and inventiveness in creating these dishes, but as with the appetizers too many simply don't work. The only thing missing is foam. Decent local swordfish is breaded and fried, decent scallops served on bread pudding with herbed sweet potato risotto and dipping sauces fondue style. A rather good perfectly grilled strip steak ( suspiciously tender ) was drizzled with a sweet dark sauce scraped off the top after the first taste. The dinner menu even includes a four part breakfast french toast, corn beef hash, poached egg, and bacon each of the four with sauces ranging from chipotle maple to bernaise. Similar bizarre overkill is visited upon dishes with salmon, duck, and a bizarre " Deep South " sampler with fried chicken, biscuits and sausage gravy, and shrimp and grits each with miniscule high-concept "sides". We opted out of the reasonably priced $8 desserts, each of which took a basic item and covered it with at least two assorted sauces or creams.
In a small restaurant, many of these dishes are comprised of components prepared much earlier in the same day or week and then constructed as ordered. It shows. The Muse concept may be laudable and for the effort involved the prices are not that high for the Hamptons, but ultimately this restaurant offers food that is too cute and simply not that good.
- Food and Dining
Lobster Roll aka Lunch: THE Iconic Hamptons Eatery
Set on the Napeague stretch of Montauk Highway between Amagansett and Montauk the Lobster Roll, known throughout the Hamptons as "Lunch" because of the huge sign on the roof, has been a mainstay of Hamptons dining since the 1960's. Originally a tiny clam roadside clambar, it has over the years become a monument to linoleum and formica serving a large menu of predominantly fried and occasionally broiled fish and shellfish with appetizers $9-15 and entrees $20-30 with many entrees market price. Service approximates that of a diner, the decor is retro to nonexistent, and the crowds huge. This famed eatery attracts the rich and famous as well as everyday visitors and is of course extremely family friendly. Entrees run the gamut from fried shrimp, flounder, and crabs to baked stuffed shrimp and charbroiled swordfish and tuna. Appetizers include the famous fried puffers, steamers, and clams in many guises.
But ultimately the Lobster Roll lives and dies by its namesake specialty - chunk lobster with a little mayonnaise and diced celery in a hot dog roll. Priced at market, most recent prices have been around $15-18. This restaurant is all about the lobster roll particularly for the one time visitor looking for the house specialty.
On our earliest visits over 25 years ago, large chunks of lobster were mixed with just a touch of mayo and a bit of celery - fresh, tasty, perfect. On two recent visits, however, the ratio of celery and mayo to lobster seems to have increased considerably and the lobster chunks were more like slivers. We have been disappointed in each of the last several summers by our visits here. More and more diners are selecting the fried appetizers and the seafood entrees, expensive by most criteria but quite reasonable for the Hamptons scene and therefore a worthy if not overly distinguished selection.
Favorite Dish: The Lobster Roll aka Lunch remains one of the Hampton's most famous and relatively cheaper restaurants, but the lobster roll just isn't what it used to be and the remaining fried and broiled fish specialties are nothing special and set in a declasse diner setting. I suppose everyone has to visit here once, but we probably will not return so quickly.
Opens for lunch at 1130, closes when the last of the dinner crowd has left.
One level, easily accessed for the handicapped, off road parking in a very crowded lot - you may have to follow departing diners to their car in peak season.
Besito: Haute Mexican
In a space occupied by 4 failed restaurants in 3 years, Besito looks to be a total success. The semi-clone of the Besito in Huntington, it is owned by restauranteur John Tunney, also owner of Huntington's Blue Honu ( also a great restaurant). The room is completely redesigned in an upscale Mexican decor - wooden poles on the ceiling, Mexican artifacts on the dark orange walls, a great bar, and extremely dim lighting from faint lanterns, wall sconces, and a single wall of niches filled with votive candles. Indeed, it is so dark that the menu cannot be read without the provided key-chain flashlights. The servers are uniformly knowledgeable and professional, yet friendly and accomodating. The pace is leisurely, never rushed. Also, each diner receives an exotic drink menu favoring all sorts of margaritas which are made to order, not premixed, as well as a glossary of Mexican food definitions and phrases. A dedicated agave lounge and bar are jam-packed with an upscale clientele.
There are no combination plates dressed in copious amounts of lousy cheese sauce at Besito ( Little Kiss). The extensive appetizer menu runs $7-13, the entrees $16-26, the desserts all less than $10. Most of the dishes feature complex sauces which are surprisingly light, quite different than the typical Mexican venue in New York. Presentation of the entrees reminds one of food-art. If the long list of margaritas is half as good as my martini, they must be quite good indeed, but not cheap ranging up to $12. Half the bottled wines are less than $30 and there is of course a tasting menu of tequilas. The special drink is the Besito Patron Margarita.
Besito is one of the hottest tickets on Long Island right now - filled every night, reservations several weeks in advance mandatory. Besito received an excellent rating from the NY Times and many other critic accolades over the last year. We really enjoyed our meal here.
To see the entire fairly long and very complex menu, visit the website below which is both current and accurate as to pricing.
APRIL 2008 UPDATE - two more meals, different dishes, same superb and innovative food.
Favorite Dish: The appetizer of choice is the guacamole prepared tableside by the server and presented in a large heavy metal pot. A ceviche appetizer is made daily. We had the Yucatan spiced chicken breast and a complex fish special with tomatos sweet peppers olives and capers. Other entrees include beef with a light cheese crust served with chipotle, wild mushrooms, and potatoes. A yellow fin tuna entree is dressed with a light sauce flavored with coconut. Visit the website - see them all. As for dessert, complimentary churros precluded ordering. And the coffee was good, really.