Arts & Living visited four Southampton Village restaurants this past week. While there, we talked (and tasted) food and found out the most requested, chef’s favorites and signature dishes at each of the eateries.
Most Popular: Grilled Hanger Steak; entrée; $28.
Chef’s Favorite: Pan-Roasted Cod; entrée; $31.
Signature: Little Red Sandwich; entrée; $24.
Executive chef Bob Abrams was hard-pressed to put a label on his dishes. He laughed as he said that each of the three discussed could easily be added to any of the three categories.
The Grilled Hanger Steak—served with Camembert mashed potatoes, French green beans and garlic butter—is very simple, Mr. Abrams said, adding that it’s the potato side that usually makes the decision for diners.
“The Camembert mash, that’s what sells it,” he said. “My wife, Dara, has it almost every day.”
Mr. Abrams’ favorite dish on the menu is the Pan-Roasted Cod—served with an asparagus and wild mushroom fricassee and sweet corn reduction. The demand for the dish, made with fresh local ingredients, is extremely high, he reported.
“I get this in every day, it’s the freshest item on the menu,” Mr. Abrams said. “We almost sell more of these than our burgers.”
The sandwich—grilled Brie cheese, slow-roasted duck, braised cabbage and Dijon mustard, served with truffled fries—is melt-in-your-mouth delicious and a big crowd pleaser, the chef said.
“We wanted to put a few more casual items on the menu,” he said of the gourmet sandwich. “You don’t see it often. It’s almost like a duck Reuben.
southampton social club
Most Popular: Lobster Tagalini; entrée; $28.
Chef’s Favorite: Prime Dry Aged Sliced NY Strip Steak; entrée; $44.
Signature: The entire menu.
Co-owner Ian Duke, whose 220-seat restaurant in the former Madame Tong’s space had its first full season this summer, said that the entire Southampton Social Club menu could be called a “signature dish” in that he and a consultant painstakingly crafted a comprehensive dining experience when they put it together.
“The menu is designed to appeal to all walks of life. There’s no way you could sit down—whether it’s a couple, a table of four or a group of 20—and not find something great to eat.”
The most popular item on the menu, though, is the Lobster Tagalini, which contains Maine lobster, asparagus, tomato filet and opal basil served with homemade tagalini pasta.
“It’s a light pasta dish that pleases many people,” he said, adding that approximately half of the women who dine at the restaurant end up ordering the healthy and flavorful dish. “Plus, it’s Maine lobster. How can you go wrong with that?”
Mr. Duke’s favorite item on the menu is a dish that the men love to sink their teeth into, he said. The strip steak is dry-aged 28 days and is served with horseradish- and Gruyere-whipped Yukon Gold potatoes, and an exotic mushroom, onion and red wine ragout.
“It encompasses everything that a meal should have ... A perfect cut of meat and those two ingredients in the potatoes that were designed to be together,” he said. “Flavor-wise, we’ve taken it to the next level.”
Paul’s Italian restaurant
Most Popular: Chicken Margherita; entrée; $19.95.
Chef’s Favorite: Linguine with Clam Sauce; entrée; $20.95.
Signature: Zuppe De Pesce; entrée; $27.95 for one, $49.95 for two.
Paul DeRobertis and his wife, Laurie, have owned this Southampton staple since 1973. The family restaurant, run by the DeRobertis family (daughters Stacey and Petrina and sons Andrew and Evan also work there), is best known for pizza when it comes to lunch and take-out but the Italian dinners served there were foremost on the owner’s mind last week.
When it comes to dinner entrées, the Chicken Margherita—sauteed chicken breast with plum tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, oil, white wine and herbs, topped with fresh mozzarella—is the best seller, he said, attributing its popularity to the dish’s lightness.
Mr. DeRobertis’s favorite dish is the clam sauce, which is made with fresh local clams and can be made into a white or red variety.
“Nobody touches our clam sauce,” he said emphatically. “Nobody.”
The Zuppe De Pesce signature dish—which includes mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp and fresh local flounder sautéed in a delicate fish sauce and served with linguine—is thusly singled out because it’s a generous portion of the fruits of the sea and inexpensively priced, just like the rest of the dinner menu, Mr. DeRobertis reported.