This Restaurant Will Make You Want to Head to Shelter Island Right Now

Minimal crowds, pristine natural landscapes, a charming, laid-back vibe—Shelter Island is always a good idea—but if you haven’t made it out to the island recently, you’re going to want to run to the ferry right now. Isola, a new Italian eatery and bar, quietly debuted on the island this summer and will remain open at least through October.

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“We will most likely close for a bit in the winter months, but the long term goal is to stay
open all year long,” said part-time Shelter Island resident and Isola’s owner Brad Kitkowski. “We want to be here for the year round residents as much as we can.”

Wood-fired margherita pizza is one of the most popular dishes at Isola. Photo courtesy of Isola.

Glance at the menu—pappardelle bolognese with dry aged prime ribeye and kobe brisket for the beef blend with homemade pasta, a wood fired Margherita pizza, a radiatore with fennel sausage, sage and butter—and you’ll definitely want those comfort dishes available year-round.

Sylvester Manor, Southold Fish Market, and North Fork Smoked Fish Company are just a few of the farms and fisheries Isola is sourcing ingredients from.Photo courtesy of Isola.

“I just learned about the seasonal availability of everything I could in this area, and now the season change is upon us, and it’s time to create a new menu,” said Executive Chef Seth Nathan, who moved from coastal California to Shelter Island to oversee the kitchen dishing out new Italian cuisine using East End ingredients from farms and fisheries such as Sylvester Manor, Southold Fish Market, and North Fork Smoked Fish Company. “Keep your eyes open for Housemade Egg Yolk Ravioli, Braised Lamb Shanks, and a few more dessert options.”

Isola has the comfort food thing down. Photo courtesy of Isola.

Oh I will.

Located in the Historic Heights District, the 170-seat Isola takes up residence in the newly renovated building, that was once home of Sweet Tomato’s, Chamberlain’s, and The Cook. The building’s lively past affected both Nathan and Kitkowski’s vision for the space and the food.

Isola is located at 15 Grand Ave. Photo courtesy of Isola.

“We truly want to honor this building and all the incredible restaurants that have inhabited it by offering a true ‘Shelter Island’ experience to all who enter,” Kitkowski said. “By that I mean a comfortable and relaxed experience, with that island vibe we all love, and the best local food and wine only found on the East End.”

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For Nathan that means creating dishes with a healthy balance of adherence to tradition while pushing boundaries, and utilizing the best ingredients available.

“We hear so many great stories from guests that have a history in this building,” Nathan said. “It fills us with a sense of commitment to honor all of them.”

If the first few months of Isola’s are anything to go by the place will be the setting for many more great stories.