Foodie Highlights: 2021 Marked a Return to Form for East End Dining

East End dining came back in a big way in 2021
East End dining came back in a big way in 2021

With the pandemic continuing to rage, many feared the bell would toll for our beloved East End restaurant scene in 2021, but brilliant chefs, creative restaurateurs, and enthusiastic foodies and diners snatched it back from the brink. With the advent of the vaccines and a slowdown in cases, along with a love of meals to go, eating came back in a big way in the Hamptons and North Fork this year — and it’s still going strong in spite of the recent surge.

As we stand on the cusp of 2022, Dan’s is taking a look back at the past 12 months of eating and drinking with renewed optimism and verve!

Rosanna Scotto with the Dan's Papers team at Rose Soiree 2021
Rosanna Scotto with the Dan’s Papers team at Rose Soiree 2021Barbara Lassen

Dan’s Taste of Summer Returns

A sure sign that life was getting back to normal came with the return of our annual Dan’s Taste of Summer events after COVID forced us to cancel them in 2020. First, we held Dan’s Chefs of the Hamptons and Chefs of the North Fork sit-down dinners. Then as summer 2021 kicked into high gear, crowds of revelers showed up at Nova’s Ark in Water Mill en masse to enjoy the soldout Dan’s Rose Soiree (hosted by Rosanna Scotto), GrillHampton and the 10th anniversary of Taste of Two Forks. Each night became a celebration of normal life and, of course, fantastic local food and wine from some of the finest restaurants and most talented chefs on the East End and beyond.

Monkfish Bites at Baron's Cove
Chef Nick Vogel’s Monkfish Bites at Baron’s CoveCourtesy Baron’s Cove

Recipes Revealed

With many still preferring to make meals at home this year, we were overjoyed for the opportunity to publish dozens of recipes provided by some of our favorite local chefs and restaurants. Made available in the pages of Dan’s Papers and at DansPapers.com, the step-by-step instructions illuminated how the kitchen masters perform their culinary magic for a wide range of dishes, including everything from healthy to decadent entrees, to savory salads, to tasty cocktails and sweet desserts. Standouts such as Ellen’s on Front chef Jennie Werts‘s sweet tea brine fried chicken, La Fin Kitchen & Lounge’s espresso martini, chef Nick Vogel’s monkfish bites a la Baron’s Cove, Ruschmeyer’s chef Salvatore Olivella’s grilled lamb chops and Thomas Bogia’s Manna clam chowder, to name a scant few, brought first-class dining to homes across the Twin Forks. Just search “Recipe” at DansPapers.com to find them all!

Rob Raffa, owner of übergeek Brewing Company
Rob Raffa, owner of übergeek Brewing CompanyCourtesy übergeek Brewing Company

New Business

Nothing signaled a positive shift in 2021 more than the appearance of brand-new restaurants on the East End. Going out to eat was no longer verboten, and before long getting a table was harder than ever as folks lined up to partake in this cherished ritual that, if we’re honest, we may have taken for granted before COVID reared its ugly head.

The list of new eateries featured welcome additions such as O by Kissaki (now O by KHG) in East Hampton, Alpina in Greenport, Manna at Lobster Inn and Lobster Roll in Southampton, Sag Harbor’s Lil’ Birdie, V-Café at Hampton Racquet Club, La Fin in Montauk, Rita Cantina in Springs, and Il Buco al Mar in Amagansett.

Alpina in Greenport
Alpina in Greenport

Old Stove Pub was resurrected in fine form in Sagaponack while also opening in NYC. New chocolatier Disset Chocolate set up shop in Cutchogue, and the East End Food Market opened in Riverhead. A new Buddha Lounge addition brought sushi to Zach Erdem’s Blue Mar in Southampton, and The Cooperage Inn established their popular NoFo Pot Pies to-go window in Calverton.

Meanwhile, craft beer brewers and a local wine maker entered the fray with new operations, including übergeek and Peconic County Brewing in Riverhead, Long Island Farm Brewery in Manorville, and Montauk Daisy Wines in Mattituck. The Stephen Talkhouse owner Peter Honerkamp’s daughter Ruby Honerkamp also launched her Talkhouse Encore ready-to-drink cocktails in a can this year.

Montauk Daisy Wine winemaker Juan Micieli-Martinez
Montauk Daisy Wine winemaker Juan Micieli-MartinezDavid Benthal Photography

Accolades

The Hamptons and North Fork food and wine world continued to earn recognition and accomplish big things in 2021. Paumanok Vineyards in Aquebogue won Winery of the Year at the 2021 New York Wine Classic, a competition involving 96 wineries from across the state. Paumanok also earned awards for Best Sparking Wine, Best Red Wine, Best Sauvignon Blanc and Best Traditional Method.

New Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW members at Pindar Vineyards in Peconic
New Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW members at Pindar Vineyards in Peconic

At the same event, Peconic’s Pindar Vineyards won the Governor’s Cup — the best of show award — for its 2019 Dr. Dan’s Signature Collection Gewürztraminer, as well as a platinum medal for Best White Wine. In other Pindar news this year, the winery’s field workers formed NY’s first farm union, which was certified in September, setting an example for others.

Along with opening its long awaited Southampton location this December, Lobster Roll aka LUNCH earned the No. 1 spot among 15 of “The Best Restaurants for Foodies in New York State,” as ranked by OnlyInYourState.com.

Lobster Roll aka Lunch
The Lobster Roll aka LunchOliver Peterson

Anniversaries

Almond Restaurant in Bridgehampton celebrated its 20th anniversary in April, and Clam Bar in Napeague celebrated its 40th year in 2021.

Clam Bar just might provide the perfect gift
Clam Bar turned 40 this year!

What’s Next

Let’s hope 2022 brings even more growth and deliciousness to the wild world of East End food and wine. And remember, this year’s not over until you’ve chosen which local sparkling wine you’ll toast 2022 with on New Year’s Eve. Cheers to our local comestibles and all those who make it possible for us to enjoy them!

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