Claudio's at sunset.
Duryea’s Lobster Deck opened a new restaurant in Orient this summer. DOUG YOUNG
Navy Beach in Montauk. COURTESY NOAH FECKS
PORT in Greenport. MADISON FENDER
SALT on Shelter Island. MADISON FENDER
To say that dining in the summer of 2020 looks different than all other summers would be to undersell the most defining period of our lifetimes. But if uncertainty still reigns on land, the same is not necessarily true on the water. All across the eastern seaboard, boat sales are up this year. Social distancing is the catchphrase of summer, and the wide expanse of blue is well equipped to provide us with all the distance we’ve been looking for.
Here’s more good news: the East End is full of possibility when it comes to dining by boat. “It’s like having your own dining room with catered food,” said Franklin Ferguson, partner at Montauk’s Navy Beach, which has always been a hotspot for the boating crowd. “You choose the guests, you choose where to anchor and it’s a good way to stretch your sea legs after being cooped up for so long.”
As in years past, boat owners can take their boats right up to the shoreline at Navy Beach, and order food to take onto their own vessels (though they can also choose a seat on the sprawling beach, if they prefer). This year, the restaurant is reservations only, to make sure that guests can be safely accommodated. “Call to make a reservation and check the weather to ensure it’s safe to sail, as well as for our tender,” Ferguson suggested.
Montauk offers plenty of other boat-accessible options, too, for the indecisive. You can set sail to Duryea’s Lobster Deck, Gosman’s, Inlet Seafood, Westlake Fish House, and more. Although most restaurants don’t have their own dedicated docks, some, like Duryea’s, do. Duryea’s most stunning 2020 achievement, actually, is a new property on the opposite fork. Their Orient Point restaurant opened this year, and also enjoys a private dock — and plenty of space to spread out. Docking is first come, first served.
In Three Mile Harbor, in East Hampton, both Harbor Bistro and Bostwick’s on the Harbor are accessible by boat. Head there for a sundowner and watch the inimitable display of sunset on the bay. Many of the marinas on the Harbor offer transient dockage, but call first for reservations.
Down the road, in Sag Harbor, the Village Marina offers transient dockage. From there, waterside dining is your oyster. The closest spot by far, though, is Dockside Bar & Grill, which faces the water. From the outdoor dining area, you can see the boats swaying in Sag Harbor Bay. Other nearby destination, all reachable by foot, include Sen, K Pasa, The Corner Bar, Barron’s Cove, Page at 63 Main, Lulu Kitchen & Bar, The American Hotel, Beacon and many others.
On Shelter Island, pull into a slip at SALT for an incomparable experience. “We have more slips available than past years, because there are no large group trips or visiting yacht clubs that usually book all the transient slips,” said SALT owners Keith and Ali Bavaro. “So we’ve seen more people able to pop into a slip, have lunch, and take off.”
SALT allows for online pre-orders, and the restaurant sends food runners to the end of the fuel dock at the arranged time. The Island Boatyard, where the restaurant is located, has 18 acres of space, and tables are now spread out all over the property, too, so guests can socially distance, both on and off their boats.
SALT’s sister restaurant, PORT, in Greenport, has expanded onto the public lawn. “The Village of Greenport has made the safety and survival of small businesses a top priority by closing the streets and sidewalks and allowing restaurants to expand their outdoor dining areas,” the Bavaros said. Nearby Mitchell Marina offers boaters discounted rates if they intend on dining in town.
The Marina offers access to many of Greenport’s restaurants, including noah’s, The Frisky Oyster, Stirling Sake, and First and South. Boaters can also pull right up to Claudio’s, which has its own dock. Six days a week (excluding Wednesdays), food deliveries can also be made directly to your boat at Pipe’s Cove, just west of Claudio’s, between the hours of 1 and 7 p.m. The restaurant Porto Bello, with its own beautiful Greenport view, also offers transient docking, through Safe Harbor Stirling Marina.
Farther west on the North Fork, there are more opportunities to come ashore. In Southold, A Lure Chowder House & Oysteria backs up to the Port of Egypt Marina, for seafood with a view of the water. At Legends, in New Suffolk, enjoy casual food on the water (or on your boat) with a spectacular sunset as a parting gift.
Bridging the gap between east and west, Hampton Bays offers ample opportunities to pause for a minute, tie your boat up, and grab a bite. Every Monday through Thursday, Sundays on the Bay, which has its own marina, offers $35 twin lobsters, with appetizers and sides—among the best deals on the East End. Or head next door, to Oakland’s, where you can get your lobster stuffed instead.
Whether you choose to dine on your boat or simply use it as your mode of transportation, make sure to call in advance. Transient dock slips book up quickly, and this is the year of the waterway.
One fine body…