A Starr’s Elegy

Hannah Selinger

The truth is, the status of Starr Boggs, the Westhampton Beach restaurant that has drawn crowds for the past 38 years, is currently unknown at the time of this writing. In September 2018, it was announced that the restaurant, which has occupied its current location at 6 Parlato Drive, would be put on the market. Although no sale has been reported, the restaurant’s website has been disabled. It was — and possibly still is — on the market for $4 million.

Still, Starr Boggs deserves an elegy, because it was great, and maybe that space will be great again.

Starr Boggs, the 67-year-old chef and restaurateur behind this Westhampton project, has been cooking for half a century. In summer, his restaurant, which is tucked away right behind Westhampton’s main drag, is open seven nights a week, churning out approximately 350 covers a night.

Chef Boggs enjoyed a nearly 40-year career on the East End, beginning with The Inn in Quogue, where he worked in 1981. Later, he opened his own place in the Dune Deck Hotel on Dune Road, named Starr Boggs, before moving the establishment to Main Street. In 2003, the restaurant changed locations one final time.

Boggs undertook massive renovations on the Parlato Drive property, which was once the home of Jackie Parlato-Bennett, wife of the Southampton Town Trustee William Bennett. (He died in 2018). The space had already been converted to a restaurant, but it needed extensive work.

Today, the restaurant seats 150. There is a screened-in porch and a welcoming dining room. Upstairs, there is an office, used by staff, as well as an apartment. Traditionally, Boggs kept his pet project open from April through October, although he sometimes extended his yearly business into November, and, every once in a while, to Thanksgiving. On more than one occasion — and at more than one location — Newsday awarded the restaurant four stars.

The restaurant was known for its seasonal, local cuisine, with dishes like Long Island duck liver mousse, smoked salmon, pan-seared mahi-mahi, and Shinnecock calamari. Its most famous culinary work, however, was the Monday night lobster bake, a tradition known fondly by the Westhampton clientele. The bake included an outdoor buffet, with appetizers, salads, lobsters, steaks, and sides. Table service was included, and the popular bake drew crowds of around 200 people every Monday. The lobster bake was, notoriously, all you could eat.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Starr Boggs, though, was its wine list. Boggs was a self-professed oenophile, with a penchant for Old World wines. He could smell a corked wine from a mile away and would buy, for his list, any Burgundy that moved him, even if it may have been a hard sell for his customers. Boggs’ curated wine list — wine reps can attest that Boggs, though hard to pin down, was the ultimate decider on all of the wines brought into his restaurant, meaning that every wine went through him first — was known as one of the most expansive on the East End, featuring representative bottles from nearly every major winegrowing region.

Even before wine and wine drinking was en vogue, Boggs made it his mission to drive home the importance of fine wine.

And so, if the hole in the internet means that Starr Boggs is no more, let us bid a fond farewell to an East End establishment that did its best to elevate dining, to push us to eat the things that are grown here, that took great pride in the hard work and dedication required in the provisioning and preparing of delicious meals. Starr Boggs, you’ll be missed.

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