I headed to Bridgehampton last Thursday to meet friends for dinner. We met at the new hot spot Osteria Salina (formerly Copa) on School Street. We wanted to see what all the buzz is about. We chose to eat at an outdoor table. It’s like a bit of European living along this side street…you can gaze at the passersby and at an unending panoply of stupid parking tricks. With its bevy of handsome servers, there’s always a nice view. By 8 p.m. the joint was jumpin’, every table was filled.
Is it authentic Italian food? Oh yes, it’s Aeolian and Sicilian. Predicted by many in the industry as the next big thing – Sicilian food is not heavy, it just plays a heavy on TV.
Dinner starts with the passing of a huge platter of fresh cucumber chunks, generously peppered. We were invited to take as many as we liked and we did! Insalate, Antipasti, Primi, Secondi, Le Verdure…Dolci. Our server Michael assured us that we could order whatever we liked in any order.
Copa is history but the extensive wine list remains intact, including local faves Wolffer, Channing Daughters and Grapes of Roth. My dining partners, Dee and Cath, started in with Italian red wines. I was in the mood for tap water.
I passed on the bread and extra virgin olive oil to save room for the main events. Osteria’s “August Menu” is far from “august.”
I started with a Salate Timoteo of endive, radicchio, arugula, cherry tomatoes and Gorgonzola. Opposites attract…in my mouth. This salad achieves a remarkable balance between the bitterness of the leaves and the natural sweetness of the tomatoes and olive oil. And then there’s the Gorgonzola…
“Secondi” for me was Oven Roasted Farm Fresh Chicken with Balsam Farms’ carrots. When you see Amagansett’s Balsam Farms on a menu, you know you’re in the right place. Balsam Farms’ famous sweet corn was also listed – so I ordered that too. My chicken was cooked to tender, moist perfection with the slightest hint of…ginger? The thinly sliced, fried onion on top lent interest. Those carrots! Always say yes to Balsam Farms’ carrots. Ah, sweet corn season. The corn here is not served on the cob but freshly cut and cooked in olive oil, salt and pepper, very sweet indeed. I ate it with a soupspoon.
Dee went for the Polpetta. She was quite taken with these meatballs and their pomodoro sauce and Pecorino Siciliano. She defined them as “yummy, so smooth.” Then she had the Mezzi Rigatoni alla Siciliana of eggplant, tomatoes, olives, buffalo mozzarella and basil. “Delicious” was all she could tear herself away to utter. Cath got rolling with Charred Octopus with gigante beans, lemon oil and a load of thinly sliced carrot. She said “Mmm, mmm!” then ordered the whole fish, which she found tender and sweet.
With food this good Osteria Salina could afford to skimp on dessert – but lucky for us, they DON’T. Thank you, Chef Cinzia Gaglio. An American who spent every summer with family in Italy, Gaglio says that her life has always been about the slow food movement. Yes, she even makes the cannoli shells!
Dee tried a Cannoli Siciliani of cow’s milk ricotta and chocolate with pistachio powder. It comes in a lovely presentation – goodness pouring out of both ends…she also enjoyed a decaf cappuccino, which she deemed “delicious, not too strong or bitter at all.” I tried to be good by ordering the Melone Assorti, a generous helping of fully ripe, luscious honeydew and cantaloupe…but then we decided to share a White Cherry Crostata. Wow, so this is what crostata is supposed to be like – tender crust, pudding, ripe, sweet fruit and a dollop of whipped cream…I could have eaten the whole thing, even at this advanced stage of overeating. Cath indulged in a big slice of the Torta degli Angeli of cow’s milk ricotta and mascarpone. She exclaimed, “IT’S SO SMOOTH AND CREAMY YOU HAVE TO TRY IT.” I concurred.
Osteria Salina, 95 School Street, Bridgehampton. 631-613-6469, www.osteriasalina.com