Most restaurants plan their menu and then turn to their vendors to provision their kitchen with what’s needed. But increasingly popular are restaurants that try to find local sources to stock their kitchen and fill their pots with what their menu requires. The idea that the freshest, best quality produce can be found locally is a compelling and increasingly popular culinary concept.
But few restaurants in our area, if any, are as committed to sourcing from and supporting local farmers and producers as 18 Bay on Shelter Island.
In fact, commitment was a theme that kept surfacing as I learned more about 18 Bay and its co-creators. The co-chefs are best friends and a husband-and-wife team, Adam Kopel and Elizabeth Ronzetti.
Completely committed to supplying their kitchen from local farms, Kopel and Ronzetti decided to relocate from Bayville to Shelter Island in 2011 to be closer to the many quality farms in our area. In 2010 they completely committed themselves to each other when they married.
Positioned perfectly between the abundance of diners on the South Fork and the bountiful harvests of North Fork farms, Kopel explained that they have developed close working relationships with Sylvester Manor and Zombie Free Farm, both on Shelter Island, Terry’s in Orient, Wickham’s in Cutchogue, Southold Fish Market in Southold and Latham’s in Greenport.
Having forged close relationships with their suppliers, who are just a short distance away,
18 Bay’s entire operation seems woven into the rhythms of local agriculture. Their menu follows the farms, not the other way around. Their devotion to using what the area’s farmers and fisherman produce is downright contagious and mouthwatering.
For example, in response to my question about what seasonal foods and ingredients they expect to use in the near future, Ronzetti’s enthusiastic answer showed a profound passion for the possibilities cooking provides a great chef in this area;
Ronzetti said, “The produce and local seafood that we’re looking forward to procuring in the next few weeks if our wishes come true would be:
“Zucchini blossoms (we hand make all of our pasta and plan on using them in a stuffed pasta)
Local squid (we like to stuff them with local greens)
Local Conch from Southold Fish Market (Our sole fish purveyor)
The local run of Bonito and Mackerel for crudo
We expect to have all of the fresh shell beans, Romano beans (we like to serve grilled)
Of course, local corn (we make a fresh polenta)
Current tomatoes that Sylvester Manor is growing for us! To pair with hand-pulled mozzarella that we make from curds we get through Red Bell Foods.
As the fennel goes to seed Zombie Free Farm on Shelter Island will harvest them and we use them in sausages. They also outfit the restaurant with all of our flowers, as well as most of the herbs we use such as bronze fennel, tarragon, marjoram and golden purslane, to name a few.”
If that doesn’t convince you to take the ferry to Shelter Island and dine at 18 Bay, perhaps a peek at their weekly four-course menu will:
Hand Pulled Mozzarella with Sylvester Manor
Tomatoes and Basil
Braised Beef Short Rib with Cucumber and Radish
Fluke Crudo with Watermelon and Green Coriander
Peach, Arugula and Red Onion Salad with Almond
Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Local Little Neck Clams
Grilled Local Swordfish with Eggplant, Olives, and
Pan Seared Duck Breast with Fresh Corn and
Lemon and Berry Parfait
Chocolate Cake with Whipped Cream and Berries
As they point out, their menu is a “direct reflection of the local markets” and may change depending on what’s available locally. How refreshing and inspiring to have a restaurant that builds its menu around the culinary bouty our area is so fortunate to have.
18 Bay, 23 N Ferry Road, Shelter Island. 631-749-0053, 18bayrestaurant.com