Who knew one of the best new restaurants in New York would open in the Hamptons? Bridgehampton to be specific. I didn’t see that coming. The Hamptons are better known for their wide beaches, grand houses and lavish parties. Not food. At least, not til Topping Rose House came along. Just taste the Ravioli with Housemade Ricotta and you’ll see what I mean. It’s a game changer – a singular and mammoth-size ravioli cradling impossibly fresh Ricotta, scattered with slivers of Shitake Mushroom, tender green Asparagus and fresh herbs. It’s glossed in a Beurre Fondue that amplifies the richness of the dish without overdoing the dish. It’s a divine pasta that will compel you to make another reservation before you even leave the restaurant. Oh, and the housemade Potato Rolls they deliver as soon as you order are plush and sweet, so be careful not to spoil your appetite as you’ll want make your way right through to the dessert menu. Believe me. Even a salad of Fennel, Radish, Celery and Cucumber anointed with a tangy, Goat Yogurt-Herb Dressing is refreshingly memorable. (I’m taking a stab at the recipe this weekend!)
The menu is the work of Tom Colicchio himself, who has managed to tear himself away from filming Top Chef to open a top-notch establishment, a rarity these days. Colicchio oversees an impressive empire of restaurants, which includes Craft, Craftbar, Craftsteak, Collichio & Sons, ‘wichcraft, and Riverpark, but I think the restaurant at Topping Rose House is his best yet. All of the pastas are made in-house and much of the greens and herbs you’ll find on the menu are grown on their farm just a stone’s throw away from the dining room. If they’re not on the grow on the farm, they’re likely from another farm just down the road. So now you don’t have to go to French Laundry in Napa or Blue Hill at Stone Barns to eat real deal farm-to-table. Just head to Bridgehampton and order the Topping Rose Farm Greens with Shallot Vinaigrette or Farm Radishes with Butter. If you’re looking for something rigorously seasonal, sample an appetizer of Fava Beans, Fiddlehead Ferns, Baby Leeks and Spring Peas topped with an egg, which serves as a sauce to deliciously bind the dish together.
But let’s get back to the pastas, particularly a Smoked Pappardelle (uniquely made with smoked flour), crowned with a slow-poached organic egg as well as Sweet Pea Mezzaluna, accented with Fresh Mint, Pecorino Sardo and Guanciale. As for entrees, there’s a bevvy of great options, like Roast Tilefish with Baby Artichokes, Carrots and Turnips, and Roast Chicken with Oyster Mushrooms, Ramps and Baby Carrots. I sampled the Seared Scallops, sweet and firm, mingled with a pleasing combination of spinach, soft baby radishes, and a deeply luscious potato puree. It’s a beautiful dish, finished with a scattering of edible broccoli rabe blossoms. But the real clincher was the Suckling Pig, an exemplary dish of crazy crispy skin that gave way to sweet, spoon tender meat, accompanied by broccoli rabe, onions and caramelized spring garlic, which further teases out the sweetness of the pig.
The restaurant itself is tucked inside a corner mansion called Topping Rose House, which serves as a hotel. The dining room sprawls over a series of whitewashed rooms with shiny wood floors on the main floor of the house, just past the front desk check-in. With its white tablecloths and red leather banquettes, the atmosphere is elegant, but not stuffy, and to be honest, the food is just too thoughtful for an overly laidback setting anyway. And if you want a dining room all to yourself, you can rent out a very stylish barn just across the way.
Either way, you’ll want to linger awhile over the desserts and a terrific selection of wines with plenty of great, local offerings by the glass, like a 2010 Pinot Blanc from Shinn Estates Vineyards. Did I mention I also had one of the best desserts I’ve had in recent memory? Given I’m a sucker for peanut butter, especially when it also involves chocolate, but their Peanut Butter Chocolate Cremeux Tart is out of this world (and I rarely use that phrase). It’s a rich chocolate tart laced with peanut butter, showered with candied peanuts, and ingeniously sided by a bruleed banana. The combination is unspeakably good and so is the Peanut Brittle Crunch Ice Cream. The ice creams, sorbets and sherberts are also made in-house, including a refreshing Pomegranate Lime Sorbet and Orange Sherbert that reminded me of a Creamsicle. We also tried the Brioche Doughnuts, stuffed with Blackberry Jam and Glazed with Lemon, but nothing held a candle to that chocolate peanut butter tart. If you ask me, dining is looking way up in the Hamptons this year.