The latest NYC hotspots taking over the Hamptons

Who will serve the food of the summer?

From left: Arthur & Sons’ Joe Isidori, chef-owner Julian Medina and Calissa owner James Mallios (Photo-illustration by Steven Dilakian/The Real Deal; Getty Images, Calissa, Arthur & Sons)
From left: Arthur & Sons’ Joe Isidori, chef-owner Julian Medina and Calissa owner James Mallios (Photo-illustration by Steven Dilakian/The Real Deal; Getty Images, Calissa, Arthur & Sons)

As summer heat soaks the city pavement and settles between skyscrapers, New Yorkers seek refuge in the breezy towns of the Hamptons. It’s not just beachgoers. Despite a less-than-hospitable environment for dealmaking, Manhattan-based restaurateurs and hotel investors are again vying to make their mark on the East End. 

“There’s a lot going on in the Hamptons from a commercial real estate perspective — even with the current cost of borrowing,” said Compass’ Hal Zwick, a longtime commercial broker in East Hampton.

Thanks to some of this dealmaking, summer residents won’t have to go without their favorite rigatoni alla vodka or grilled vegetables with halloumi. 

Joe Isidori — a Michelin-starred chef and owner of red-sauce joint Arthur & Sons in the West Village, who’s perhaps better known for his outlandish milkshakes at the Black Tap — opened a Hamptons Arthur & Sons at 203 Bridgehampton Turnpike in May. 

“I actually operated the space many years ago when it was Southfork Kitchen, so when the opportunity arose I jumped on it,” Isidori said. A third-generation chef, he serves up Italian-American classics that pay homage to his family, which has owned and operated restaurants in the city since 1954. (As Isidori says, “Chicken Parm Pays the Bills!”)

Far from copy-paste, the Bridgehampton menu also features lighter fare and salads and a limoncello spritz, which Isidori boldly predicts “will be the official drink of the summer in the Hamptons.”

Julian Medina, chef-owner of seven Mexican restaurants in the city — including Toloache on the Upper East Side and El Fish Marisqueria on the Upper West Side — made his Southampton debut with El Verano last July. 

“What I love about the Hamptons is the farms and all the local produce and seafood you can get,” Medina said. “Cooking Mexican food with the best local and fresh ingredients is what really inspired me.” 

The space and flavors evoke a vacation in Cuernavaca, Mexico. “My designer Pablo Castellanos did a beautiful job … with Mexican wallpaper, gold lanterns and Mexican pink colors, it feels fresh, beachy, sunny,” he said.

Medina wasn’t really looking for a spot in the Hamptons when his real estate broker sent him a corner listing. 

“We made the deal happen in two weeks,” Medina recalls. “I’m happy that El Verano took its place in town as we don’t have a lot of Mexican places out east.” Menu highlights include local corn esquites with shaved black truffles, tamarind-glazed Long Island duck and lobster tacos with peanut salsa.

More recently, restaurateur Jamie Mulholland opened Ketchy Beach, a sister restaurant to Nolita’s Ketchy Shuby, inside the Capri Southampton hotel. Mulholland is best known for exclusive lounge Goldbar in Lower Manhattan and Surf Lodge, a 32-room hotel and restaurant in Montauk. New York City Mayor Eric Adams was at last month’s opening of Ketchy Beach, an Instagram post showed. Ketchy’s menu is seafood-inspired and has vegetarian and gluten-free options.

Another city restaurateur-turned-Hamptonite is James Mallios, the owner of Mediterranean restaurant Amali in Lenox Hill, who opened Greek restaurant Calissa in Water Mill back in 2017. 

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“I found the Calissa property, and I could see it all, I could see people moving in the space,” Mallios recalled. “We knew it had had a very successful run previously as a Greek restaurant. I knew the landlord and signed a lease. There was a little bit of kismet.” 

Though inspired by the island of Mykonos, Calissa was also modeled after experiential restaurants in Forte dei Marmi, a town in Tuscany “where you don’t think it’s weird to see a 45-year-old dancing at night,” Mallios said. In the evenings, diners feast on watermelon salad, lobster pasta and whipped Greek yogurt. “At 11 o’clock,” however, “it turns into a music program,” sometimes with Mallios as DJ. 

Mallios said some of his most frequent guests run firms that “collectively own a solid 50 percent of Manhattan.” He’s even had a princess make same-day reservations and fly in on a chopper, not to mention chefs like Le Bernardin’s Eric Ripert who make regular appearances.

“The irony of having a successful Greek restaurant in the Hamptons is that you don’t have time to go back to visit Greece in the summer,” he laughed. “It’s a bit of a Pyrrhic victory.” 

In addition to restaurateurs, hospitality investors are also headed east to upgrade some of the area’s storied inns and resorts. Ruschmeyer’s, a legendary hotel and restaurant based in Montauk, debuts this summer under a new management group, Manhattan-based El Grupo, along with Placebo, a new restaurant on the property. It’s the first hotel for El Grupo, which created Manhattan hotspots 9 Jones and Somewhere Nowhere. In a press release, El Grupo’s Nathan Leong said he is “thrilled to infuse Ruschmeyer’s experience with our signature blend of Montauk charm and NYC-style hospitality.” 

After a series of run-ins with local authorities that temporarily cost the establishment its liquor license two summers ago, Ruschmeyer’s is perhaps ready for a new era. The new management updated the hotel rooms and introduced an exclusive speakeasy lounge, Don Jaguar.

Compass’ Zwick, who represented investor Jeremy Morton in his purchase of Ruschmeyer’s three years ago, also pointed to the Sands, an “iconic” third-generation motel in “a phenomenal location” that changed hands in April for the first time in decades. The buyer, investment firm Enduring Hospitality, plans to refurbish the hotel and add a focus on health and wellness. 

East Hampton’s long-standing Maidstone hotel is also under new ownership. A group led by pharmaceutical executive Irwin Simon bought the 160-year-old inn last year. Now it’s being reopened by LDV Hospitality, the group behind Manhattan restaurants Scarpetta and American Cut, among others. Jorge Espinoza, the chef at LDV’s Scarpetta Beach in Montauk, will be moving over to LDV at the Maidstone, the hotel’s new restaurant. Visitors can expect a restaurant that “[evokes] the nostalgia of Italian summer,” Simon told in May. 

Zwick also mentioned that The Surfside Inn, a family-owned and operated “Montauk legend” for 34 years, has drawn “strong interest” since he and fellow Compass agent ​​Jeff Sztorc listed it for $7.3 million in May. 

“People have wanted this place for two decades,” he said, “and it’s finally selling.” 

While many investors have found success adapting their Manhattan hotspots to the Hamptons, a warm reception is not always guaranteed. 

Scott Sartiano, founder of Zero Bond, the ultra-exclusive members-only club in Manhattan’s Noho, has met significant resistance to his plans to export the club to the centuries-old Hedges Inn, which is currently a luxury bed and breakfast in East Hampton. 

Officials including East Hampton Village administrator Marcos Baladron have encouraged Sartiano to explore more party-friendly areas like Montauk, according to the New York Times. 

Sartiano might not be persuaded. “I hate to lose,” he reportedly responded.

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