290 Old Montauk Hwy, Montauk
(631) 638-1771 | scarpettarestaurants.com
A spectacular panoramic view of the ocean and sky is the highlight for diners who eat on the extensive outdoor deck at the newly reworked Gurney’s. The deck offers umbrellas over each table, strings of lights overhead, comfortable seating and appropriate dinner music. It’s a Long Island oceanfront setting diners dream about but rarely experience on an island with surprisingly few waterfront possibilities. It’s also the first time in memory that Gurney’s has had a noteworthy restaurant after a long parade of mediocre ones. But you can’t eat the scenery…
The wait staff is affable, friendly and down-to-earth. The food is refined and alive with a number of inspired ingredient combinations. The rich, creamy, silken polentawith its fricassee of truffled mushrooms ($19) was a world-class version of this often-neglected dish. A close second was the delicate, flavorful, crispy fritto misto boasting extraordinarily tender calamari ($17) not the often-found rubbery disappointment. Another recommended appetizer is the braised short ribs of beef. Four boneless squares of delicate, delicious prime meat came perched on a bed of vegetable and farro studded risotto ($18).
Entrées and desserts were the equal of the starters—there wasn’t a foul ball among the eight we sampled. The plump, soft, seared scallops ($33) were lightly done to perfection enabling the freshness of the sea to be apparent in every bite. The seared tuna slices were enlivened by pancetta, chickpeas, sofrito and olivada ($36), a rare and robust treat. And pay attention to the pastas here, they’re almost uniformly outstanding.
Our numero uno was the black farfalle ($29). The almost crispy black bow ties were dense with a mix of gently cooked seafood and slightly spicy breadcrumbs. The only qualm was the unanticipated sweet flavor generated by the soft short rib and bone marrow agnolotti ($25). Its listed garlic chips and horseradish accompaniments gave no hint of sweetness in this otherwise tasty dish.
Difficult as it might be, it’s a good idea to save room for dessert (all $12). The small but decadent chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream is a must, the limoncello semifreddo is smooth on the tongue and the cheesecake is everything it should be. Yet there were a few exceptions to these glowing observations. A busboy cleared our table although someone hadn’t finished eating and an otherwise excellent waitress removed a plate of food without asking the diner involved if he had finished.