Spring Is In The AirCheck out these South Fork restaurants before the crowds arrive.
Out east, April is not, as T.S. Eliot would have it, the cruelest month. Actually, it’s one of the finest months in which to enjoy the placidity of place, the calm before the inevitable storm. With winter safely behind us, and blue skies promised ahead, consider April the month of living well in the Hamptons — before anyone else gets a chance.
And although there are plenty of incredible spring experiences to be had on the South Fork in the early spring, dining remains at the top of the list for those interested in exploring the food scene in absence of the crowds. At Highway Restaurant in East Hampton, chef Justin Finney serves locally sourced, global cuisine in a modern-yet-comfortable dining room (if the day happens to be chilly, expect to enjoy the space’s double-sided fireplace, which separates the bar area from the dining room). Although the menu changes to reflect the seasons, expect smart craft dishes, like prosciutto and fennel sausage meatballs with broccoli rabe, or squid ink rigatoni with lobster, calamari, shrimp, basil, and tomatoes. Reservations are recommended, even in April.
In Bridgehampton, Jason Weiner runs the kitchen at Almond Bridgehampton, as he has done for over a decade and a half. Under chef Weiner’s watch, this bistro also dedicates the majority of its menu space to local and sustainable product. In addition to rotating daily specials (surf and turf on Tuesdays and rack of lamb on Saturdays, for instance), the restaurant serves a compelling variety of proteins and vegetables, from Long Island duck to pan-roasted cod.
Head to Sag Harbor’s Bell & Anchor on a Sunday night for what is probably the best deal in the Hamptons: Montauk Pearl oysters for a dollar apiece. The Bell & Anchor is one of restaurateur David Loewenberg’s east end prizes — he also owns Sag Harbor’s Beacon and East Hampton’s Fresno. Every Sunday, both in season and out of season, the restaurant slings these perfect, briny bivalves for a buck apiece. There is no limit, and the restaurant rarely runs out, happy news for the shellfish lovers of the east end.
On the western edge of the Hamptons, in Southampton, make it a point to visit Tutto il Giorno, the lovely Italian restaurant right in the village. A backyard area, lit with bistro lights and kept chill-proof with heat lamps, provides the perfect opportunity to sit outside and enjoy the spring weather, a luxury that is much harder to come by after Memorial Day. There are few failures on this southern Italian menu, but the standouts include, predictably, handmade pasta (try the scarpariello, a type of spaghetti served simply, with cherry tomatoes and Pecorino). Seafood dishes, like whole grilled branzino with an herb salad, or fish of the day baked in parchment paper and served with capers, black olives, and grape tomatoes, also resonate long after dinner has ended.
The crowds will be here soon, but, for now, bask in the glory of a quiet South Fork, and some of New York’s finest cuisine.