There was a time, in a former millennium, where dining in the Hamptons presented limited options. Sure there were the stalwarts like the Palm, Nick and Toni’s and the late lamented Della Femina, but as you drove further east along 27 the options diminished. That has certainly changed. Now, a plethora of restaurants greet you at every stop light. Even once sleepy Montauk is a growing culinary force. However, Amagansett has not completely jumped on this bandwagon.
In April 2012 a new face joined the neighborhood. Sotto Sopra, best described by managing partner, Rose Evangelista, as not exactly Italian and not exactly Continental, continues to pack in the hip and the well-scrubbed, in a restaurant environment that is as fickle as the summer weather.
Since I was already at my summer vacation haunt in Montauk, I thought I would take a drive west to Amagansett and sample what Sotto Sopra had to offer.
We arrived on a Tuesday night and found the crowd two deep in the front open-air bar and dining room. We were escorted through to our table in the back garden, where just days before Bill Clinton had celebrated his birthday. (I’m always a few days too late to see anyone who is anyone.) It was a lovely evening but there were heat lamps at the ready just in case.
The menu presented options that ranged from pizza made in a wood-burning oven to pastas and full-on entrees. We chose wine over the signature cocktail called the Sotto 75 (gin, Germain, Champagne, blueberry and lime juice). Curiously, the restaurant was out of the wine of the summer, Rosé. I guess the trendy folks got there before us. We began with the ubiquitous fried calamari and it was one of the best…nice and crispy and not a hint of grease. The huge appetizer portion was more than enough for two to share. We chose the arugula, radicchio, endive, pistachio and pomegranate salad with lemon balsamic dressing. The sweet pomegranate was a perfect foil to the tangy arugula. I will certainly try to duplicate this great salad at home.
Next up was the grilled and herb-rubbed salmon that we requested to be cooked through. And it was. We also ordered the risotto with mushrooms, hold the pancetta please. Again, request complied. Since it was summer, the pan roasted fresh corn sounded yummy. This unusual side was straight off the cob and still juicy and flavorful.
As we finished our wine and enjoyed the summer evening, we were anticipating dessert and coffee. Although the lemon tart we ordered was just fine, we expected more extensive and imaginative offerings. I felt sorry for the wait staff that had to tell us the coffee machine had been out of order for two days and therefore there was no coffee available. That omission seems hard to take during busy summer dinner service. Mr. Coffee machine from Costco, anyone?
Fall is a wonderful time of year to take a drive east. Enjoy off-season overnight rates and certainly visit Sotto Sopra. It’s a wonderful dining addition to the East End. While not open all year round, the restaurant stays open later than most (closing in December) and opening again in the spring.
For more information, contact sottosoprahamptons.com.