I was reluctant to review Elaia Estiatorio in Bridgehampton because it’s one of my East End go-tos when it comes to dinner out, especially for intimate parties.
This authentic Greek eatery in the heart of the Hamptons opened in 2017. It was instantly popular with the summer crowd. Do I really want to invite more strangers along for the ride? Is it a crime to try to keep it to myself? If so, I’m guilty as charged. But when I watched our server happily dancing to the Greek music before and after he delivered delicious dishes to our table last week, I caved—it’s not right to try to horde the good stuff. As the Greeks say, “Slowly, slowly the sour grape becomes honey.”
Elaia (pronounced “alayah”) delivers the real deal main-event dishes, but it’s the attention to detail that first won me over. Every little thing—real flowers, real candles, real quality ingredients, especially the olive oils and cheeses—is perfect. Their daily sourcing of meats (free-range, organic chicken, grass-fed beef and lamb), fish and produce is how we should all live: freshly. I’ve become spoiled by the high standards—I’ve come to expect them. What I can’t seem to anticipate is just how much I eat every time I go there!
It starts with the fine service from a staff that’s not just willing but excited to explain all of the menu items and to share their personal favorites. They want me to overindulge in selections that merge some of the best traditional dishes from across Greece. Opa!
Meals begin with big, yeasty slices of bread served with yogurt, oregano olive oil, sea salt and The. Best. Olives. Ever. And—fysiká—fine Greek wines.
Of course my husband and I ordered a three-dip ménage to open the gustatory proceedings—“goo” is my fave, especially when served with crisps. I could eat this incarnation all day, particularly the melitzanosalata made with roasted, smoky eggplant, garlic, parsley and vinegar. It’s so balanced, I’m pretty sure one could live on it alone, but you’ll also want some of the bright orange htipiti—rich, whipped feta well met with roasted chile that kicks up the heat a notch. The “fava” of yellow split pea purée, red onions and capers reminds one of hummus—so healthful.
We also shared an order of the lightly battered, tender kalamari. It’s served so hot, our server warned us to be careful. A squeeze of lemon allowed the subtle taste of the sea to shine through.
Husband indulged in a special: the black sea bass pan-seared with bay scallops served over gigante beans in a tomato sauce and topped with microgreens. He defined the dish as “perfect” and “amazing.” And, in the truest testament to our loving marriage, he gave me one of the scallops to enjoy. Wow, the chef who prepared our entrées clearly performed some form of Greek magic to intensify the natural sweetness of the scallop. He did right by my chicken too—the Kotopoulo Souvlaki is hereby nominated as the world’s best chicken-on-a-stick. Skewered and grilled with peppers and onions, this herb-marinated chicken was tender and moist.
The only “downside” to Elaia Estiatorio? Their house fries and their tzatziki are IRRESISTIBLE! So I was left with no room for my standard dessert of karidopita—walnut cake with honey syrup. Though I was a little tempted by the orange custard in phyllo dough…next time, next time.
Right now Elaia’s prix fixe is only $29. This makes it one of the best deals on the East End, in addition to one of the tastiest.
Elaia Estiatorio, 95 School Street, Bridgehampton. 631-613-6469, elaiaestiatorio.com