Freshness is the key to success, says Marty Robinson, owner of Before the Bridge restaurant in Hampton Bays. And with Cor-J’s seafood market within casting distance from the kitchen, diners can always expect to have a fresh catch on their plate at his eatery.
“Ice cream and french fries are the only things that come frozen in this restaurant,” Mr. Robinson said.
Having owned the restaurant for a little more than two years, Mr. Robinson said he and his wife, Patti, are now reaping the benefits of their hard work and said they are looking forward to this summer more than ever.
Teamwork is another anchor holding Before the Bridge in successful waters, according to Mr. Robinson. Chefs Cory Schorsch and Muhamed Cukaj—with nearly 65 years of kitchen experience between them—have been with the restaurant from day one and, according to Mr. Robinson, both conjure up culinary magic. Part of that magic came together through a twist of fate when the two men found themselves working side by side at a charity event. Prior to taking over the restaurant, Mr. Robinson was working a benefit dinner for Southampton senior citizens when he met Mr. Schorsch.
“We worked in the kitchen together and hit it off,” Mr. Robinson said. Three years later, when he needed a chef, he called on Mr. Schorsch and they’ve been happily working together to please customers ever since.
“Cory’s one of the best chefs around,” Mr. Robinson said.
As for Mr. Cukaj, “Muhamed’s a real pro,” according to Mr. Robinson.
Mr. Robinson said his top-selling dish at Before the Bridge is the “Sandbar Special,” a surf and turf favorite of shrimp scampi and a 6-ounce filet mignon, price fixed at $25 starting May 5, included an appetizer, salad and dessert.
Customers rarely leave hungry.
“We hand out a lot of doggy bags,” he said.
Other $25 price-fixed favorites include the seafood platter, an assortment of flounder, scallops and shrimp, and the “Sand Dune Special,” a combination of lobster, clams, mussels, red potatoes and corn. The “Crab Feast”—a harvest of king crab legs, jumbo crab cakes, soft-shell crabs, and blue claw crabs—is also quite popular, according to Mr. Robinson.
Though its proximity to Shinnecock Bay whets the appetite for seafood, Before the Bridge also welcomes carnivores with a 16-ounce Sterling shell steak, priced at $24.95.
Before the Bridge also has a full bar and features a selection of Channing Daughters wines, three beers on tap, including local Montauk Light, Southampton India Pale Ale and the Belgian classic Stella Artois, Mr. Robinson’s favorite brew.
With growing success at the restaurant, Mr. Robinson decided to venture into new waters last year. Before the Bridge began serving brunch in November, which Mr. Robinson said has been a real winner.
Working with his wife to create the “best hollandaise sauce in the world,” Mr. Robinson said their eggs Benedict and crab cake Benedict were huge crowd pleasers and that the Belgian waffles were quite a sensation as well. The brunch menu is fixed at $15.95, and includes coffee, fresh muffins and fruit salad.
Along with her hollandaise sauce, Ms. Robinson, who graduated from the New England Culinary Institute, specializes in desserts. Her apple cobbler at $4.50 is among her husband’s favorites.
Mr. Robinson, who has been in the restaurant business most of his life, said Before the Bridge is a family place and that most of his customers are regulars. “We don’t rush people here … this isn’t a slam ‘em in, slam ‘em out kind of restaurant,” he said. “The customers finishing their coffee and relaxing are just as important as those waiting in line to be seated.”
For Mr. Robinson, the greatest feeling is hearing “fantastic, that was great” as a customer leaves. “Seeing that same customer return is even better,” he added.
Recently, one of those satisfied customers approached Mr. Robinson and asked if they could have their wedding at the restaurant. “That was a great day. My wife loved it,” Mr. Robinson said. So much so they’ve decided to hold more nuptials. And now, along with weddings, Before the Bridge is offering catering services.
But Mr. Robinson said his place is really about the seafood, especially local seafood. “That’s what Long Island is all about,” he said.