Food Seen: Joseph Realmuto, East End Restaurant News, Deals and More

Joseph Realmuto
Joseph Realmuto
Eric Striffler

Meet Joseph Realmuto, executive chef of the Honest Man Restaurant Group—Nick & Toni’s, Rowdy Hall, La Fondita, Townline BBQ, Coche Comedor and Honest Catering—get local restaurant news, deals and more from the East End “Food Seen.”

Chef Highlight: Joseph Realmuto, Executive Chef of Honest Management Company

Joseph Realmuto began his culinary career at the Culinary Institute of America. While attending CIA in 1991, he interned and then worked under John Laughran at the River Cafe in Brooklyn. Upon graduation in 1993, he spent his first summer in the Hamptons at Nick & Toni’s. Realmuto returned to Manhattan for the off-season and landed at Park Avalon in Manhattan. At Park Avalon, Realmuto worked all kitchen stations for owner Steve Hansen, under chef Jim Botsokis.

In early 1994, Realmuto returned to his summer job and began what was to be a long relationship at Nick & Toni’s. He was initially hired as a line cook, and for the next two years, he honed his skills as sous chef under executive chef Paul Del Favero before becoming the chef de cuisine in 1996. During his stint as sous chef under Del Favero, Nick & Toni’s received two stars from The New York Times’ Ruth Reichl, was awarded the Golden Dish Award from GQ and received high praise from Food & Wine when they claimed that, “Nick & Toni’s is the best Italian restaurant on the East End.” In 2008 and 2011, Realmuto was a guest chef at the James Beard House. He has created and overseen the opening of four additional restaurant concepts with Honest Management Company — Rowdy Hall, an English-style, French bistro pub; La Fondita, an authentic Mexican takeout spot; TownLine BBQ, an authentic Texas style BBQ joint; and Coche Comedor, a regional Mexican restaurant inspired by local products.

Realmuto has appeared alongside several celebrity chefs on the Food Network. He appeared on five episodes of Ina Garten’s show Barefoot Contessa, cooking signature dishes from Nick & Toni’s, La Fondita and TownLine BBQ. He also was selected as a judge alongside Bobby Flay on The Next Food Network Star. Giada de Laurentis featured Nick & Toni’s and Realmuto on a 2007 episode of Giada’s Weekend Getaways. He was also commissioned to participate in The Q, a BBQ festival hosted by Paula Deen and her sons in Miami Beach as part of the South Beach Food & Wine Festival. Realmuto has appeared several times on George Hirsch Lifestyle on PBS. He was featured on ABC’s The Chew in the fall of 2014 and appeared on FOX 5’s Good Day New York cooking up some tasty TownLine BBQ goodies out of the company’s mobile smoker.

Realmuto has a devotion to local and organic produce in his menus. He helps maintain the one-acre organic garden behind Nick & Toni’s, where he harvests in-season items that go right to the plate. He is also involved with the Hayground School’s “Young Chef’s Program,” a chef-led workshop for young children. He maintains relationships with many local farmers and produce suppliers supporting East End farms such as EECO farms, Satur Farms and Quail Hill Farms. In 2007 Realmuto spearheaded the creation and establishment of the Springs School Seedling Project. The Seedling Project has built a greenhouse at a local public school, Springs School, where Realmuto’s children attend. The mission of the project is to teach children about growing produce, cooking healthy and eating healthy. Realmuto’s dedication to the community doesn’t end there. He sits on the board of the after-school program Project MOST for East Hampton and Springs schools. He can also be found volunteering for the local soup kitchens at churches in the Hamptons community.

Disset's Beet Breast Cancer Bars
Disset’s Beet Breast Cancer BarsCourtesy Disset Chocolate

Disset Chocolate, an artisanal chocolate shop on the North Fork, will introduce a new limited release chocolate bar to raise money in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. The new “Beet Breast Cancer” (BBC) bar is truly unique. Made completely from scratch, it combines dark chocolate with locally sourced beets that are cooked, dehydrated and powdered, giving this vegan chocolate bar a delightfully earthy flavor and a distinctive pink color. The BBC bars will sell for $10, with all proceeds going to PinkAid, a charity on Long Island that helps underserved breast cancer patients. Pink Aid’s programs provide services throughout the breast cancer cycle, from free breast cancer screening and advanced testing to help covering non-medical expenses, such as household bills, food cards, wigs, recovery garments, emotional wellness services and more. The organization has granted more than $7 million to various LI- and Connecticut-based organizations in 10 years and has helped pay nearly $1.3 million in household bills for patients. Disset’s Beet Breast Cancer Bars will be available throughout the month of October, while supplies last, at Atelier Disset in Cutchogue, Eastport General Store and Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm on the North Fork.

Main Street Tavern is officially launching Sunday brunch. Every Sunday, from 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m., guests can enjoy seasonal fare like the ricotta toast with autumn squash pumpkin seeds, maple and sage, and a kale frisee salad with summer squash, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, ricotta salata and honey vinaigrette. The menu also offers decadent brunch classics like brioche French toast with whipped cream and maple syrup, spicy chicken and waffles with a bourbon honey, and grilled hanger steak with crispy fingerling potatoes and sunny side up eggs. Of course, the Tavern burger will also be available on the menu, served with the Tavern’s famous cottage fries.

Main Street Tavern's brioche French toast
Main Street Tavern’s brioche French toastEric Striffler

Fierro’s Pizzeria in East Hampton Village has deals aplenty — and it’s not just pizza. Tuesdays and Wednesdays bring a two for $32 deal: Pick two entrees — grilled chicken and spinach, chicken parmigiana or eggplant parmigiana — served with pasta and Caesar salad. Thursday is for superheroes — any hero and a medium drink is $9.25. Sunday is Funday: Order a large pie, 16 wings, eight knots and a two-liter soda for $37. Doesn’t include tax. Good deals!

The Bell & Anchor over in Noyac is bringing some two-course off-season deals. Look for the moules frites ($34) special on Tuesday nights, the addictive lobster garganelli with basil, corn and saffron cream ($42) or a steamed one-and-a-half-pound lobster ($54) on Wednesdays. Thursday offers bouillabaisse for $44. First courses include a chowder, Caesar salad or an arugula salad with crispy goat cheese. Add $6 for tuna poke or $5 for burrata with grilled tomatoes and bread. Desserts are available for an additional $6.

Did You Know: Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton has had a slew of bold-faced names dine at the restaurant over the years — from the political power of the Clintons to movie stars such as Jack Nicholson, Brad Pitt, Alec Baldwin, Gwyneth Paltrow, Richard Gere, Sarah Jessica Parker and Renee Zellweger!

Food Quote: “Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays.” ~ comedian Henny Youngman

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