If were to ask someone walking along Fifth Avenue to describe the flavor of the East End, you can almost guarantee their mind will go straight to the world-famous lobster rolls and rosé of summer, but that’s not the full picture. The flavors of fall in the Hamptons and on the North Fork are uniquely exquisite and are not something your taste buds can afford to miss. Our East End culinary experts share how they define the flavor of fall and what dish on their menu truly encapsulates that flavor.
“When thinking of fall flavors, what I think of is pumpkin and apple,” Salt & Loft owner Barry Bernstein shares, adding that homemade pumpkin and apple pie are ideal dessert picks to complement the fall specials. “We’re going to have a grilled salmon with a homemade sauce, wilted spinach, crisp fingerling potatoes and mango chutney. And then we’re going to have a grilled New York strip steak with a special steak sauce, paired with cream spinach and potatoes.” 145 Main Street, Westhampton Beach. saltandloft.com
Cappelletti owner Luigi Tagliasacchi agrees that pumpkins are a great addition to any fall menu, as are roasted acorn squashes with butter. His pumpkin offerings include pumpkin soup and the wildly popular pumpkin ravioli with sweet butter. “We do it traditionally Parmigiano style from Parma—with Parmigiano-Reggiano and local pumpkins in it,” he says of the ravioli. “That’s one of our mainstays for the fall!” 3284 Noyack Road, Sag Harbor. cappellettirestaurant.com
When contemplating the flavor of fall, Pierre’s owner Pierre Weber’s finely-tuned palate immediately calls to mind one of the French restaurant’s most famous lobster dishes. “It is the flavor of a lobster bisque with grated gruyère and a safran rouille, [paired with] a glass of Gigondas, of course,” he says. 2468 Main Street, Bridgehampton. pierresbridgehampton.com
“Fall on the stretch is special—it stays warmer longer and the sunsets are breathtaking,” says Leigh Goodstein, manager of Clam Bar at Napeague. “Warm fall sun pairs great with a plate of ice-cold oysters and a Wölffer rosé cider. When the evenings get chilly, you can’t go wrong with a warm bowl of steamers and a hearty Montauk Pumpkin Ale.” 2025 Montauk Highway, Napeague. clambarhamptons.com
“We love cooking with seasonal vegetables at Elaia Estiatorio. Fall cooking brings us earthy flavors, vibrant colors and ingredients with loads of nutritional sources,” says chef Radu Grigore. “The Kolokythi Tis Epochis at Elaia is a delicious, nutritious, autumnal salad featuring local roasted organic acorn squash, organic pink lady apples, feta cheese, mint, pistachios and an apple cider honey dressing.” 95 School Street, Bridgehampton. elaiaestiatorio.com
Like Grigore, The Halyard at Sound View chef Stephan Bogardus’s favorite fall dish on the menu is a fresh, locally sourced salad—specifically the Thai Style Sweet Potato Salad made with wild rice, peanut, coconut and fish sauce caramel. “The smell of entering a room with the oven on and the sweet aromas of roots slowly roasting is pleasing on so many levels,” he says. “We live with one hand on the land and one in the sea. Sweet potatoes from the earth in fish sauce from the sea. This dish brings out a combination of smell, taste, aroma and our identity.” 58775 Route 48, Greenport. thehalyardgreenport.com
Choosing favorites isn’t as easy for John Papas, owner of the eponymous John Papas Café. “I have so many items, so it’s a very difficult question for me,” he says, noting that when it comes to popular specials, however, the answer is clear. “Stuffed turkey is a very popular dish now, and everybody who’s technically on a diet loves that dish, with our stuffing and everything. I used to serve it every Thursday!” 18 Park Plaza, East Hampton. 631-324-5400.
As with most Greek restaurants, lamb is a key ingredient on the Calissa menu, but chef Bob Abrams explains that the dishes it’s incorporated into do shift with the seasons. “Whereas in the summertime we prepare whole spring lamb slow cooked over coals, we turn to more comforting and casual preparations in the fall,” he says. “Lamb plays well with most fall flavors with its rich spice and light gaminess and is also a great pair with lighter red wines. One of our favorite dishes is the Saganaki Burger—the crispy graviera cheese is a perfect pairing with the minted tzatziki sauce and umami-rich burger. Fall in the Hamptons is more than just a change in temperature and flavor; it’s also a time to take a breath and relax after the insanity of summer out East and prepare for the rest of the year—Calissa is open year round. Our Saganaki Burger plus a glass of Greek red wine encapsulates fall at Calissa.” 1020 Montauk Highway, Water Mill. calissahamptons.com
“When I think of fall, the flavor of roasted squash, pumpkin and hearty herbs like sage and thyme come to mind. It is the beginning of stew and soup season! And it is also the beginning of apple season, which means spices like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and nutmeg come in to play,” says chef Justin Finney of Highway Restaurant & Bar in East Hampton. In his expert opinion, no dish on the menu better encapsulates the flavor fall than the apple crumble. “Using a variety of local apples from the Milk Pail farm and all the fall spices, it is the perfect way to end your meal at Highway!” 290 Montauk Highway, East Hampton. highwayrestaurant.com
With the changing of the season, Main Street Tavern chef Yusuf Lovett shares that his team has all things warm and comforting on the mind. “This is why our Biscuit, Sausage and Pickles is a great fall addition to our menu,” he says. “Everything you see on the plate is made in-house, including the pork and garlic sausage, which was produced from a whole pig we bought and butchered in an effort to responsibly serve quality meat.” 177 Main Street, Amagansett. mainstreettavern.com
This fall, Kissaki chef and partner Mark Garcia recommends the “Samma” fish, or Pacific saury. “In Japanese characters, it is written 秋刀魚—this literally means autumn-swordfish, because it represents fish of autumn, and its brilliant and slender body reminds us of a Japanese sword.” 670 Montauk Highway Suite E, Water Mill. explorekissaki.com
This story first appeared on danspapers.com