“Flavor in a dish really comes from vegetables and herbs,” says celebrity chef Tom Colicchio. So he’s reversing the typical restaurant ratio of heavy protein to veggies at his new restaurant in Bridgehampton’s restored 1842 Rose Topping House, where cutting-edge treatment of vegetables will sit next to five or six ounces of high-quality protein (rather than 12). “I think that’s the way people are starting to eat more and more these days,” says Colicchio, astutely echoing the Hampton’s Wellness vibe.
Some of the vegetables will be finessed by herbs like anise hyssop and rue, unfamiliar to many diners, from the restaurant’s one-acre kitchen garden, farmed by local edible landscaper Jeff Negron.
The luxury hotel and spa will include 20 rooms when completed, as well as a restaurant open year-round. Bill Campbell, an investor in Colicchio’s management group, Craft Worldwide, paid a reported $5 million for the impressive four-acre property six years ago, and since with his partner Simon Critchell has spent $19 million renovating and expanding the Greek Revival–style mansion. Will Colicchio’s restaurant empire now include hotels? “We don’t have plans, but that was part of the thinking. It gives us the opportunity to get our feet wet on a smaller project, and if it works out well, hopefully we can get into that business,” says the chef.
Ty Kotz, formerly chef de cuisine at Tabla, is executive chef of the 65-seat restaurant that will operate year-round. Colicchio says of his new emphasis on vegetables, “We may take beautiful, freshly picked cherry tomatoes, stew them in a little olive oil, a little garlic with basil and maybe take those juices and braise some fish in it, then serve the tomatoes and the fish together.” The menu might call such a dish “tomatoes with sea bass” rather than “sea bass with tomatoes.” Friends-and-family dinner reviews have been favorable—“They did a very nice job with the place,” said one neighbor—and beyond local veg, the restaurant is also seeking out local meat. Next year some of it, chicken and lamb, may be raised by Colicchio and his Mattituck neighbor, who are exploring keeping animals on the 15 acres linking their properties.