Excerpted from “Endless Summer on the East End,” in Wine Spectator's Sept. 30, 2022, issue
At New York’s eastern tip, Long Island splits into two thin peninsulas, called the South Fork and the North Fork. Each has its charms.
The Hamptons, hub of the South Fork, have been luring R & R seekers for over a century, drawn to this stretch of ocean-facing hamlets on Long Island’s eastern tip for its miles of pristine beaches, historic tree-lined villages, fine restaurants and bountiful farm stands. The humming social scene, including many celebs, fuels a dining landscape that becomes more dynamic every season, both with new hot spots and classics creatively reinvented.
On the quieter North Fork—the narrow sister peninsula nestled between the calmer waters of the Long Island Sound and Peconic Bay—there’s a new energy infusing the leisurely stretch of farmland and vineyards. Scores of buzzy new restaurants, locavore-minded chefs and stylish boutique hotels have brought a lively hipster vibe.
As summer bleeds into fall, when the golden light is most luminous, the waves are at their warmest, and the tomatoes and corn are at peak sweetness, it’s the ideal time to visit the East End. Here is our guide to restaurants with standout wine lists, holding one of Wine Spectator’s three Restaurant Award levels as of 2022. For more don't-miss dining destinations on both the North and South Forks, plus tips on where to stay, wineries to visit and places to source the freshest produce and seafood, read the full article, “Endless Summer on the East End,” along with our guide to East End golfing and hitting the North Fork wine trail.
SOUTH FORK: WHERE TO EAT
Sag Harbor | theamericanhotel.com | Grand Award
A Sag Harbor classic, this Main Street landmark dates to 1846. Service is white tablecloth formal, and the menu features choices of luxurious throwback dishes such as oysters Rockefeller, French onion soup (soupe à l’oignon gratinée), caviar and Long Island duck à l’orange. Wine enthusiasts come to plunder the cellar; owner Ted Conklin has grown the list to 1,700 selections, representing both New and Old World finds. Grab a seat on the front porch or in the sunny atrium and soak in the clubby vibe.
Bridgehampton | pierresbh.com | Best of Award of Excellence
A quintessential bistro with French soul, Pierre’s has been a mainstay of downtown Bridgehampton for decades yet still maintains the energy of a newcomer. Owner Pierre Weber’s Alsace origins come through in the tarte flambée, but most of the menu evokes southern France classics such as bouillabaisse, fresh pasta and steamed mussels. The French-heavy wine list offers an impressive range of classic producers and gems from less-familiar regions. Snag a sidewalk table—particularly at brunch—for people-watching.
Water Mill | calissahamptons.com | Award of Excellence
Correctly billed as the “Mykonos in the Hamptons,” this high-energy spot comes alive at sunset, especially in the breezy outdoor garden, replete with plush couches and string lights. Share creative mezes such as avocado tzatziki, artichoke labneh and diver scallop carpaccio. Seafood options include grilled Montauk fish, Canary Island branzino and salt-baked turbot. Groups should order the astakomakaronada, a 2-pound traditional Greek lobster pasta dish. The wine list features a range of Greek wines, with French and Italian highlights as well as large-format rosés. Check the website for the live music lineup—big names such as Wyclef Jean and Questlove have been featured Calissa performers.
Lulu Kitchen & Bar
Sag Harbor | lulusagharbor.com | Award of Excellence
Locals flock to this happening bistro, where Philippe Corbet’s menu centers around the large wood-burning oven. After plundering the extensive raw bar, you can’t go wrong with wood-fired pizzas, local fish, perfectly cooked steaks and the signature heirloom cauliflower, served charred with grapes and a balsamic glaze. The moderately priced, 270-wine list is strongest in French selections, and on Wednesdays, diners get 25 percent off every bottle.
East Hampton | thepalm.com | Award of Excellence
With massive cuts of juicy beef, a range of chops, broiled lobster by the pound and a wine list boasting hearty reds from around the world, the Palm never fails to deliver a hedonistic dining experience. The chain’s East Hampton outpost is located in the historic Huntting Inn, where you can enjoy a pre-dinner drink at the cozy oak bar. Every table should share the beloved “half & half,” composed of fried onions and homemade potato chips, and the New York–style cheesecake finale.
Montauk | scarpettarestaurants.com | Award of Excellence
The combination of ocean views and superb dining makes tables here some of the Hampton’s most desired. This hot spot is perched above Gurney Resort’s 2,000-foot private beach, with crashing Atlantic waves providing background music. The Italian-leaning menu is designed to “scream Northeast American summer,” says owner John Meadow, founder of LDV Hospitality, which owns the Scarpetta chain. Featured selections include local lobster tagliolini, raw and seared scallops and tuna “susci,” but the signature dish is spaghetti, tomato and basil. The 400-bottle wine list is a mix of Old and New World, with a focus on Italy, including a proprietary wine produced in collaboration with Tuscany’s Tenuta Sette Ponti.
1770 House Restaurant & Inn
East Hampton | 1770house.com | Award of Excellence
This historic six-room inn was built in 1663 as the private home of William Fithian, one of the town’s earliest landowners, but you don’t have to stay here to experience its cozy vibe. Book a table in the dining room for the inviting, mostly U.S. and French, wine list and chef Michael Rozzi’s modern American prix fixe menu, featuring spicy Montauk fluke tartare, chilled sweet pea soup with smoked trout roe and za’atar-spiced swordfish. For a less formal meal, go to the property’s tavern for beer, oysters and burgers.
Montauk | showfishmtk.com | Award of Excellence
Located in Gurney’s Star Island, this modern, seafood-focused hot spot offers stunning views of the Montauk harbor and marina. The stylish dining room has an indoor-outdoor feel, and the all-day menu offers dry-aged steaks, lobster and kimchi fried rice, four salads and more; that said, the highlights are the day boat seared scallops and the whole roasted fish, with herbs, fennel pollen, sumac and grilled lemon. The 175-selection wine list is strongest in French, California and Italian bottlings.
Stone Creek Inn
East Quogue | stonecreekinn.com | Award of Excellence
It’s worth going off the beaten path for Christian Mir’s outstanding French-American cuisine. In a large three-story house with 1910 origins, France native Mir and Elaine DiGiacomo, his wife and business partner, have created a special occasion destination with Stone Creek Inn, where decadent classics such as Fontina arancini, racks of lamb, Long Island duck meatballs and grilled octopus are all on the menu. (See the summer entertaining recipes and wine pairings they shared with us.) Gabrielle Walsh curates the wine list, which boasts blue chips along with interesting selections from South Africa and Greece.
Union Sushi & Steak
Southampton | dineatunion.com | Award of Excellence
From Ian Duke and David Hilty, the owners of Southampton Social Club and Union Burger Bar, this hybrid steakhouse channels a high-end gastropub. On the steak side, there’s dry-aged rib-eye, New York strip and center-cut filet mignon as well as kurobuta pork chops and grass-fed lamb chops. Sushi purists may take issue with its signature rolls, such as the unconventional-yet-popular Union Roll (lobster, avocado, yuzu mayo, skirt steak) but, rest assured, there’s a full sashimi and sushi menu with more traditional offerings. Along with creative cocktails, a compact list of 100 wines, mostly French, covers everything from bold reds that stand up to steak to bubbly, whites and lighter reds suited to raw seafood. During the summer weekends, the restaurant features live music and a festive atmosphere.
NORTH FORK: WHERE TO EAT
North Fork Table & Inn
Southold | northforktableandinn.com | Award of Excellence
This is the undisputed superlative dining experience on the North Fork. Chef and restaurateur John Fraser, of JF Restaurants, purchased the lauded 19th-century property in 2020 and has taken it to even greater heights, with a design refresh and hyperfocus on celebrating local ingredients and producers. “I didn’t want to upset the magic that was already there,” explains Fraser, who fell in love with the North Fork because of its proximity to farms, fish and wineries. “It reminds me of an early blooming Napa Valley, with the landscape and the passionate people.”
The prix fixe menu features a handful of seafood options from the day’s catch prepared simply, as Fraser says, “so you can really taste what’s coming out of our waters.” His signature dish, “broken beans,” is an elevated riff on succotash, with slow-cooked beans, corn and tomatoes topped with summer truffles and Parmesan. Amy Racine directs the impressive beverage program, which dedicates half the list to North Fork wineries. On cool nights diners can enjoy “S’mores & Port,” with mini bonfires for roasting marshmallows to toasty perfection. This summer, the inn’s four minimalist yet comfortable rooms have reopened after a complete renovation.
Touch of Venice
Cutchogue | touchofvenice.com | Award of Excellence
A North Fork staple for three decades, Touch of Venice from the Pennacchia family has pioneered fresh Italian cuisine that’s authentic and inspired. On a warm night, grab a seat on the patio and try the baked clams, fresh pasta and grilled swordfish. The predominantly Italian wine list features famous names, up-and-coming producers in Sicily and Campania as well as local producers—the list offers a wine from every vineyard on the North Fork.