A Food Lover’s Guide to the Busiest Weekend of Summer on the East End

labor day weekend

Photo courtesy of Highway Restaurant & Bar

Where to begin, fellow foodies? The riches of the East End are so completely abundant this year. It’s not a matter of what to eat, really. It’s a matter of how much will your stomach actually hold. Will you be on the North Fork this year? The South Fork? Let’s cover as much ground as we possibly can. These are the things you should eat before summer ends. 

Let’s Talk about Pizza, Baby

il forno montauk gurney's

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Blutstein

On the North Fork, Pizza Rita recently went from food truck to brick-and-mortar in Mattituck, and they’re firing off superlative Neapolitan pies. Adding to the Claudio’s empire is Pizzeria Baccaro in Greenport—Sicilian-style square stuff. Oh-my-god is it good. Avelino continues to impress, with its not-to-be-messed-with high-fire-point pies made from a mobile oven behind Macari Vineyards. On the South Fork, Sag Pizza enters its second season with many of the kinks figured out. Across the street, Lulu’s is also firing delicious wood-fired pies. But farther out east, you’ll find two excellent new additions to the pizza scene: Best Pizza, on the Napeague stretch (an approximation of the New York slice) and Il Forno in Montauk, which lies somewhere in Neapolitan territory. 

Talk Tacos (and other Mexican Delights) to Me

Photo by Lindsay Morris

Coche Comedor has come on the scene like a freight train and all us South Forkers are happier for it. Go for the chicharrones, but most definitely stay for the luscious apricot-tamarind glazed half duck. Stay, too, for the frozen margaritas because, well, why not. While we’re on the topic of tacos, actually, the team at ‘K Pasa has renovated Sag Harbor’s old La Superica space and the new gleaming restaurant serves super tacos that fit right in the palm of your hand (that means you can eat more of them, in case you were wondering). Across the fork, Mattituck’s Mattitaco serves a most apt farewell to summer: the BLT taco, butter-poached lobster and applewood smoked bacon, because why not. I personally can’t bid summer adieu without a trip to Greenport’s Lucharito’s, which is always a riotous good time—and where I’m always happy to stuff my face with Crescent Farm duck tacos. When in Rome. 

Little Fish, Big Pond

Photo courtesy of Ed’s Lobster

Just ask Jeremy Blutstein what’s fresh at his new Montauk hotspot Showfish and he’ll list the litany—but his new best-in-show is definitely the dry-aged, bone-in tuna ribeye, so make sure to eat that before the season ends. While you’re in Montauk, the lobster tagliatelle at The Crow’s Nest is the thing that very lovely dreams are made of, and it’s well worth the price tag. The great lobster roll debate wages on and on and on. In Sag Harbor, swing by Harbor Market & Kitchen for a roll of your very own. It’s the kind that won’t break the bank, either. The North Fork is full of fantastic seafood finds. At the North Fork Shack, check out the shrimp ceviche. It’s light enough that you’ll have room to pursue another meal, like dinner at the newly opened Anker in Greenport, which specializes in seafood. Oysters, lobster, fluke, scallops, cod, porgy, monkfish, and more… you’ll find it all on the menu there. 

Where’s the Beef? 

Photo by Madison Fender

This year, it’s everywhere. Ribeyes are cropping up, and we’re not complaining. Get your bikini-be-damned ribeye on at East Hampton’s Highway Restaurant & Bar, where the crust is so dark it nearly crackles under the pressure of a fork tine. At Southampton’s Brooklyn Chop House, the ribeye is dry aged in one of Pat Lafrieda’s special lockers. The result is astounding. I’ll forgive the North Fork Table & Inn for serving a New York strip instead of a ribeye because the steak—served with a potato gratin, mushrooms, and charred asparagus—is simply stunning. I would eat it six times a week. And, of course, one cannot ignore Claudio’s. The over-100-year-old restaurant serves a 21-day dry-aged steak, all 22 ounces of ribeye goodness, in its iconic dining room, right across from the pier. 

Can you eat all of these things before the summer is over? The real question is: How can’t you?