One Year In, Topping Rose House Finds Success by Staying Local

Tom Colicchio
Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio’s Topping Rose House restaurant is currently celebrating its first anniversary. Already it’s hard to remember what it was like before this destination farm-to-table restaurant opened in the Hamptons’ traditional breadbasket, Bridgehampton.

The 22-room inn and spa that’s attached to the restaurant opened this summer. It’s proved as popular as the local fare. I haven’t yet had the pleasure of staying in the inn, but I have enjoyed several meals at Topping Rose. The bar and restaurant have quickly become the go-to gathering place for area organizations’ events. When I dined at Topping Rose last November, the private dining hall was booked for a real estate office’s party.

If you just pop in for drinks, my husband and I can recommend a glass of the house Sancerre or the dry white house wine or the “Southside,” featuring Death Door gin and local mint—just the perfect hint of mint, in fact. No matter what you pop in for, don’t miss the cheese plate. It’s outstanding!

Topping Rose is Colicchio’s first foray into hospitality beyond dining. I understand that he stays there regularly and often heads out to fish the local waters. Colicchio maintains a home in Mattituck on the North Fork, as well as in the city. I chatted with Colicchio and his Chef de Cuisine Ty Kotz about Topping Rose last fall. Both were breathless with excitement about the place—mainly about the fact that they have their own one-acre garden to draw from for the menu. Colicchio stressed that many of the menu items he’s developed for Topping Rose are “very different” from anything he’s done in the past. He told me that younger chefs like Kotz inspire him to continue striving. Kotz sometimes takes his young daughter to visit the garden—she loves it. Looks like another foodie generation is growing in Bridgehampton.

Shrimp at Topping Rose House
Shrimp at Topping Rose House, Photo: Stacy Dermont

I’ve visited the garden several times with gardener Jeff Negron of The Growing Seed. It’s a miraculous place. Negron took the lot from field to garden in just a couple of months, providing Topping Rose’s first crop of signature baby carrots and fresh greens and radishes last fall. Now all manner of vegetable is flourishing there. You can’t beat Bridgehampton Loam for horticulture. On the plate, I’ve found the fresh peas a tad too fresh at times for me—I’d like them cooked a bit more, ditto the raw beet greens. But I’m happy to ride along with Kotz and Colicchio on culinary adventures.

Of course, Topping Rose also buys local produce from local farms, including Dale & Bette’s Organique, which is located just down the Sag Harbor Turnpike.

Vegetables are the star attractions here, with the proteins playing second fiddle. Colicchio was one of the first big-name chefs to launch this refocusing as a trend in dining. But do get the roasted lobster—it’s very flavorful. I’m not big on sweet entrées but I quite liked the ravioli with goat cheese and truffle honey. I appreciate that I had the option to order it as a small plate—which allowed me to try more dishes.

And it’s not just the veggies that are local—Topping Rose serves wines from Wölffer Estate, Sparkling Pointe, Macari, Pamaunok Vineyards, Grapes of Roth and Leo Family alongside selections from Napa, France and Germany (as well as their own Topping Rosé by Lieb Cellars). Other local purveyors include the North Fork’s Long Island Mushroom Inc. and Catapano Dairy Farm, Multi Aquaculture Systems of Amagansett and many more.

In addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner,  Topping Rose offers a full brunch open to the public. I’m quite fond of pastry chef Cassandra Shupp’s granola—so I’ll try to check out brunch soon.

I appreciate that Shupp’s adorable lemon meringue tart is nicely tart, served with vanilla ice cream and blueberry sauce, it was spot-on. Her cheesecake with strawberries and almonds? Perfecto.

Topping Rose House
Topping Rose House, Photo: Stacy Dermont

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