My husband and I were correct in our belief that we were headed to a hot new restaurant in the deep off-season last month. There were a lot of tables to choose from when we arrived, but, by the time we left, the place was packed like it used to be in the summer when the space housed Race Lane! Busy and buzzy.
Also similar to Race Lane, there were a good number of children in the mix of patrons. But the place has undergone a refurbishment to a simple, cool-chic vibe featuring fun, hanging light fixtures. Does their soft, white-on-white framing remind anyone else of ravioli, I wonder? And the food is authentically southern Italian. In fact, it’s basically the same menu that chef/owner Maurizio Marfoglia offers at his original Sag Harbor restaurant of the same name. Dopo la Spiaggia means “after the beach.”
After being seated in semi-seclusion (our preferred habitat) behind the big fireplace, we were immediately presented with a basket of fragrant, artisan bread and dipping oil. Tempting, but I’m strong—I started with a glass of house Pino Grigio. Husband went for an East Side of Hendricks gin, St. Germain, lemon juice, basil leaves, agave and cucumber purée, which he quite liked.
Our server Ryan urged us to “sit back, relax, take a nap if you want.” He’s certainly a helpful and experienced server. But he told us he was new to the staff. The “bon appétit” he delivered with each item made us wonder if his last gig was at a French restaurant.
Maybe the middle-aged couple at the next table playing tonsil hockey was a little confused as to where they were. Yes, the food is southern Italian, but this is not Rome. Please, don’t “do as the Romans do” in their public parks, streets and fountains while waiting for your meal. Let’s just say that there was quite a bit of slurping emanating from their banquette before their pasta arrived. As a collector of overheard quotes, I feel that this one stands out, delivered from the male side of that coupling: “What? You saw a picture of ME with her, in a newspaper? Me and her, TOGETHER? Really? I don’t think it was me.”
We were then presented with another memorable item—a very large flatbread, a salty pane carasau, topped with particularly piney rosemary. A crisp delight. Husband pronounced it “Christmas on a cracker!” I found its delectability, when dipped in EVOO, downright dangerous.
My antipasto was the cavolini, which simply translates to “brussels sprouts.” But this dish is much more. These thinly shaved leaves in a Caesar dressing with toasted pine nuts are like a sublimely refined, “umami bombi” coleslaw!
Husband moved on to an antipasto of Tritata—baby arugula, endive, asparagus, hearts of palm, lima beans and small olives lightly dressed, which was lovely.
I quite enjoyed the rigatoni with housemade sausage, peas and vodka sauce. The dull but persistent throb of heat was just right. And I quite liked the texture of the loose sausage.
Husband went for the primi Tagliolini of squid ink pasta with bay scallops, shrimp, calamari, coalesced with tomato and chili. Husband commented, “interesting, it’s briny.”
For dessert, Husband and I gleefully shared a mildly sweet vanilla panna cotta. But there was no slurping.
Husband summed up our first evening at the new Dopo la Spiaggia: “This is nice.”
Dopo la Spiaggia, 31 Race Lane, East Hampton, 631-658-9063
Dopo la Spiaggia, 6 Bay Street, Sag Harbor, 631-725-7009, dopolaspiaggia.com