The last time I made my way down to this Sag Harbor building was just after Superstorm Sandy. Back then it housed Tutto il Giorno and there was water threatening to reach it across Bay Street. But my husband and I found that all was warm and delicious inside.
It had been too long. Husband wanted to come along this time too, but he had a rehearsal to get to. When he’s not “professionally” eating and drinking, he’s a musician. For this meal I was joined on a windy night by cookbook author Hillary Davis.
Understatement: Hillary loves Italian food.
Full disclosure: I can walk to Dopo La Spiaggia from my Sag Harbor home, and stumble home.
Fun fact: Dopo La Spiaggia means “after the beach,” but you can go there anytime and it’s open year-round.
The current menu is shared with that of sister restaurant Dopo La Spiaggia in East Hampton, and both places offer nightly specials.
We started with Sardinian Carasau bread from the grill. Hillary swooned, “It’s better than the most perfect pizza crust. It’s so thin—there’s no calories!” I like the way she thinks.
We were seated up front by the bar, a particularly romantic and very relaxing space with its view of the water and the candle flicker reflecting off the pale shade of the walls, as groovy music plays from above. We both said we’d bring our guys here soon.
Hillary started with a glass of a white Sicilian blend, and with a “Make that two!” so did I. Smooth and versatile, this vino might go with everything. But Hillary followed up with a request for a red. We both sampled the Super Tuscan and found it super aggressive. Hillary settled on a red Borolo from Tasca Regaleali, commenting, “Ooh, I like that. It’s good—a little peppery.” Yes, flavor is how we choose our wines.
Some local beverages tempted—Wölffer Estate Vineyard’s rosé, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company’s IPA and Harbor Ale, and Dopo’s “Sag Side” of Bombay Sapphire Gin, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, mint leaves, lime juice, with splashes of cranberry and soda beckoned—but I cut myself off after the white.
“Antipasti,” “Primi,” “Secondi,” “Contorni,” “Dolce,” “Whateveri.” I encouraged Hillary to order strictly “whatever she wanted.” You can do that at Dopo and the service is so smooth, dishes arrive as if by magic.
Hillary started with a generous portion of Frito Misto of sweet shrimp, calamari and “perfect” zucchini. She insisted on sharing and I did not resist. Tender and piping hot.
My Culatello starter was exactly as it should be—those thin, salty slices of meat and cuts of sweet melon at the height of ripeness. I cleaned my plate.
When Hillary’s brick chicken, “Pollo,” arrived, she exclaimed, “Ooh, this smells like chicken!” I knew what she meant—the real deal. A chicken breast prepared “under the brick” with capers, black olives and spinach. She found her bird to be “so pretty” and tender.
My first thought when the colorful Rigatoni with homemade sausage and bright green peas against its brilliant vodka sauce arrived was, “Oops, this is what I ordered when I last ate at Dopo in East Hampton.” But I didn’t regret it. This hearty dish, served nicely al dente, can fend off any cool autumnal breezes.
For dessert we shared a Mixed Berry Tart in a delicate crust, drizzled with crème anglaise. Amen to that.
Dopo La Spiaggia, 6 Bay Street, Sag Harbor, 631-725-7009 and 31 Race Lane, East Hampton, 631-658-9063, dopolaspiaggia.com