New York City’s loss tastes a lot like Sag Harbor’s gain as Scott Conant resurfaces at the beach. After his recent split with partner Chris Cannon, Conant made an exit from the kitchens of L’Impero & Alto. But before parting, he left his mark as a capable Italian chef with a clientele so loyal they followed him all the way to a quaint new eatery overlooking the Sag Harbor Marina. Co-owners Larry Baum & retired Conde Nast CEO Steve Florio brilliantly wrangled Conant to consult on the straightforward Italian menu. “I’m not reinventing the wheel,” Scott explains as he details the bold, but simple flavors in an asparagus & mussel soup or fritto misto.
The cozy, yellow-tinted setting offers 30 thirty already very precious seats. Only the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend and there was already a 45 minute wait for a table. There’s also patio seating, but that’s presently serving as a waiting area while the staff settles in for the summer. I scrambled for one of five bar seats: with generous wiggle room and a view of the marina, these are unquestionably the best seats in the house. Known more for its flashy club scene than haute dining, Tutto Il Giorno throws the Hamptons a curveball.
First came glistening pearls of branzino, silkened with olive oil and avocado, then dusted with the perfect sprinkling of sea salt. Next, an enormously flavorful bowl of emerald green pea soup, served cold and capped with goat cheese & crunchy tarragon croutons. But Conant throws the knockout punch with an intoxicatingly fragrant polenta with truffled mushroom fricassee. (Heads turned as my truffle-seduced polenta traveled through the dining room. Seriously.) I hadn’t even gotten to the main courses and I’d already hit a culinary climax.
While the rest of meal was mostly excellent, nothing could trump the polenta. Still, endearingly irregular strands of spaghetti brushed with just-plucked tomato sauce, made a sterling effort. A few dishes did veer slightly off course: an uneventful snapper lacked gusto and what seemed like an entire ciabatta loaf swallowed a terrific soft shell crab. Mingled with avocado, tomato and a spicy kick of dressed-up mayonnaise, slices could quickly remedy this otherwise delicious sandwich.
Let’s just hope Scott Conant returns to the city come Labor Day.
Address: 5 Bay Street, Sag Harbor NY
Until we eat again,
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