Delmonico’s of Southampton
(631) 283-0202, Southampton
My mental picture of Delmonico’s was of fat cat financiers chomping on big cigars and eating huge steaks in its Wall Street digs circa 1837. Now this fabled old New York institution has put its show on the road and moved into the Southampton spot previously occupied by Savanna’s.
Although the spiffy, noisy, new Delmonico’s is a summer place as evidenced by a variety of candles, a fireplace, striped black and white awning in front and back and impressive columned outdoor patio, some of the old Delmonico’s standbys remain. Executive chef Billy Oliva served in the same capacity for the past five years at the original Delmonico’s. (He previously owned and operated the Custom House, a Michelin starred restaurant in Ireland). Pastry chef Rigo Aveneano hails from another Manhattan mainstay, the Waverly Inn.
The huge steaks are still evident (a 43-ounce porterhouse that feeds two or three goes for a cool $124). So too are many traditional steakhouse standards like oysters, clams, shrimp and lobster cocktails, French fries, hash browns, creamed spinach, etc. Aside from the steaks, some of the most outstanding dishes sampled were non-traditionals like Alaskan Wild King salmon, Montauk striped black bass and a creative crab cake eggs Benedict.
The food and prices here are often incredible. The tall, husky steaks are flawless. The classic Delmonico’s steak (actually a boneless rib eye) was thick, pink and sizable enough for a second-day dinner ($49). As was a towering filet mignon ($48). Steak prices start at $36 for a petite filet and aside from that $124 porterhouse and a market priced butcher’s pick, top out at $58 for the 40-day dry-aged bone-in rib eye.
Think fish as well as steak. That fresh, flaky, Wild King salmon topped with eggplant caponata and black garlic butter might well cause discerning diners to desert the pallid, so called Atlantic (or farm raised) variety forever ($34). The undeniably tasty Montauk striped bass with vierge sauce is a welcome antithesis to the hearty steaks ($38).
Starters are more creative than the rather basic entrées. The crab cake eggs Benedict crowned by a tiny, delicate quail egg and accompanied by a pork belly is given a huge boost by a hollandaise d’espelette sauce with an interesting twist of chili powder from the Basque Region of Spain ($28). A prime, dry-aged beef Carpaccio profited from an infusion of Parmesan, vividly pickled ramps and artichokes ($18). Peeky Toe crab toast, actually an open-faced sandwich of rustic dark country bread with lemon aioli touched crab shards ($22) is worth ordering as are two monumental baby iceberg wedges flavored with smoked bacon and blue cheese ($16). Two recommended sides are the long, thin, world-class hand cut fries ($10) and the combination of local corn, roasted shiitakes and garden basil ($13), but that “local” corn designation during my June visit was stretching it a bit since there was no local corn available at that time of year.
An intense lemon tart with an excellent shortbread crust and a luscious, warm chocolate lava cake (both $12) were fitting finales to a scrumptious meal. Yet, I would have liked Delmonico’s even more if the waitstaff told diners the price of specials and always knew who ordered the dishes they brought to the table.
Photos by Tom Fitzgerald and Pam Deutchman / T.H.E. Fitzgerald Photography