5 Cozy Dining Rooms on the East End to Visit This Winter

Photo courtesy of Vine Street Cafe

In summer, we’re all about the outdoor dining, but once the tourists have left and the temperatures have plunged, we’re looking for something a little cozier to fill out our dining options. If your list of January dining options feels anemic, well, we can help with that. Here are five places on the East End that are perfect for the season. 

The American Hotel

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Because sometimes all you need is a perfect cheesecake and a cappuccino.

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Nothing says cozy like this old school restaurant and bar, with its low ceilings and Tiffany glass lamps and fireplace tucked into the dining room. The Hotel, which has operated in one incarnation or another since the 1800s, is a formal experience. Meals are decidedly Old World, paying homage to culinary ghosts (expect your vegetables to arrive cut into cocotte). On a cold night, there are few places more inviting than the Hotel’s convivial bar, at which an oenophile can leaf through the tome that is the restaurant’s (acclaimed) wine list.

The American Hotel, 45 Main Street, Sag Harbor, (631) 725.3535, open daily for lunch and dinner. 

American Beech

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Mac n cheese 🧀

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This candlelit, winter white Greenport restaurant has both an indoor and outdoor fireplace, for anyone looking to curl up near a fire this month. There is batik and rattan and other odes to a warm, bohemian atmosphere, which add an inviting spirit to this delicious restaurant (the pork Milanese with blue cheese hits all the right winter notes). If you feel unduly burdened by the prospect of a long, cold trip back home, you can even opt to spend the night at the hotel. Should you decide to leave, however, you can always pick up a pizza next door, at 1943 Pizza Bar, another winter treat you’d be remiss to pass up. 

American Beech, 300 Main Street, Greenport, (631) 477.5939, open daily for lunch and dinner. 

Il Capuccino

This tried and true Italian restaurant, also in Sag Harbor, just oozes wintertime cozy. The dining room, outfitted with ceiling-hung bottles of Chianti (the ones with the macramé), is exactly the kind of place that any discerning diner would go to come in from the cold. The room, paired with its rib-sticking offerings of fresh pastas, feels like the ultimate antidote to the January blues. If you didn’t already know, Il Cap’s garlic knots—pillowy orbs lashed with butter—are considered an East End cult classic. They alone might be worth the trip, calories notwithstanding. 

Il Capuccino, 30 Madison Street, Sag Harbor, (631) 725.2747, open 5 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday 4 to 9 p.m. Sundays. 

Vine Street Café

White bead board and exposed wood beams make this Shelter Island stalwart a great place to stop on a chilly evening. The restaurant, which has been around since the early 2000s, offers a wallet-friendly prix fixe option between 5 and 6 p.m. each day (appetizer, entrée, and dessert for $35 per person). To that end, I’m a sucker for the moules frites, mussels bathed in basil and saffron and served with a heavy helping of fresh French fries. But the chocolate-covered profiteroles are definitely a close second. 

Vine Street Café, 41 South Ferry Road, Shelter Island, (631) 749.3210, open Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5 to 10 p.m.

Harvest on Fort Pond

This may seem like an odd choice for winter, given the restaurant’s stunning (and summer-worthy) Fort Pond views, but the truth is, this restaurant shines in winter, too. First, on weekends the restaurant is almost always packed, owing to few Montauk options in the off-season, so there’s an incomparable community vibe that just screams “cozy.” Second, the low lighting, low ceilings, tablecloths, and candles all offer up a distinctly sweet dining room, one that’s great to sit in on a cold night. Although dishes in season are too large to adequately finish (dishes are all meant to be ordered as a table), Harvest offers an off-season menu of smaller servings. As far as the menu is concerned, there is a dish for every appetite at Harvest. 

Harvest on Fort Pond, 11 S. Emery Street, Montauk, (631) 668.5574, open Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5 to 10 p.m.