Two stalwarts of the Manhattan steakhouse scene have opened their first ventures in Southampton this spring. Last week, the Press went to pick the brains of the chefs and to learn what they recommend to eat. After having a bite at both places, we’ve got the mouth-watering scoop on what they are bringing to the table, literally and figuratively speaking.
Delmonico’s of Southampton
Most Popular: Black Bass; $39
Signature: Classic Delmonico’s Steak; $49
Chef’s Favorite: Daily Crudo; MP
Delmonico’s, with its fine-dining menu, has been in Manhattan since 1837. The restaurant has racked up many firsts in its historic existence, including being the first restaurant to offer Eggs Benedict and Lobster Newburg, as well as being the first to allow women to congregate as a group.
While Delmonico’s has been breaking gastronomic and social barriers for 176 years, it sure took its sweet time getting out to the Hamptons. The good news is, it was totally worth the wait.
Delmonico’s Executive Chef Billy Oliva is behind the stove himself, making sure that the Southampton venue is held to the high standards of the flagship restaurant. Owner Dennis Turcinovic reported that he bought the property here and is planning on being part of the Hamptons food scene for a long time to come.
“We are not a pop-up, we’ll be here all year round,” Mr. Turcinovic said.
The Southampton spot is the third Delmonico’s and “Chef Billy,” as he is affectionately called by the staff, is executive chef across the board. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1989, worked under Tao chef Sam Hazen and Oceana chef Rick Moonen. Then he went to Europe, where he took over a restaurant in Ireland, The Baltimore Customs House, earning the Michelin Bib Gourmand, denoting Michelin inspectors’ favorite dining establishments for a reasonable price.
Since the restaurant opened here this season, at Delmonico’s of Southampton, the customer favorite is the Black Bass. All of the fish served at the restaurant comes from local fisheries.
“The fish out here is so fresh that I feel when you have a product like that you don’t need to mess with it,” Chef Billy said.
The bass is served with a twist on a classic sauce vièrge. For his sauce, he uses olive oil, cured olives, Sicilian olives, fennel, celery, shallots and heirloom tomatoes.
The Classic Delmonico’s Steak is the restaurant’s signature dish. It was created in the 1860s by chef Charles Ranhofer and has basically remained unchanged. The beef is a 20-ounce boneless rib-eye, seasoned with kosher salt and black and white peppercorns that are roasted in-house. After being broiled and charred, the rib-eye is finished with an herb compound butter and Maldon sea salt. The sea salt is composed of very large flakes, which really pop in the diner’s mouth.
All of Delmonico’s beef comes from Vintage Farms in the California desert. According to Chef Billy, the animals do well in the desert heat. He explained that temperature variances and extreme cold cause stress to the animals, which is not good for raising quality cattle. Because the beef is raised in the desert, with minimal stressors, it is a higher quality product, with more marbled fat, he said.
Chef Billy’s favorite dish is the daily crudo, which varies from day to day and week to week, depending on the availability of fresh ingredients. Last week, the crudo was fresh sea scallops with candied bacon, orange fennel, carrot and ginger. For the Press, he premiered a new crudo made of red snapper, watermelon, avocado lime mousse, shaved jalapeño and finished with red Hawaiian salt. The plating was clean, vibrant and colorful, and the dish was delicate, spicy and sweet.
According to the chef and the owner, and the menu, Delmonico’s of Southampton is all about being local. Southampton Publick House beers are on tap, Shinnecock oysters are on the menu, and they source their produce and dairy locally as well.
Delmonico’s is located at 268 Elm Street in Southampton. It is open Monday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday dinner is served from 5 p.m. to midnight. Saturday and Sunday brunch is served from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. and Sunday dinner is served from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m.
BLT Steak at the Capri
Most Popular: Chopped Vegetable Salad; $14, and Porterhouse for 2; $47 per person
Signature: Tuna Tartare; $18
Chef’s Favorite: Bone-In Rib-Eye; $47
BLT Steak is an American steakhouse with a bistro ambiance. It has locations across the country, and this summer it’s pairing with the Capri Hotel to present a Southampton pop-up. BLT Steak is first and foremost a steakhouse, and Executive Chef Cliff Crooks is looking to get people who aren’t familiar with the brand hooked, and to satisfy those familiar with the brand who may not be in Manhattan much over the summer.
“Its like going over to an old friend’s house for dinner,” he said of the BLT dining experience.
All of the beef served at BLT Steak is USDA Prime, or 100-percent naturally raised, certified black angus. Most of the meat on the menu is naturally aged for 28 days before being served. Purveyor Pat LaFrieda provides BLT Steak with the prime beef, much of it from Creekstone Farms.
Chef Crooks made his bones the hard way, apprenticing with some of the country’s top chefs. Most notably were his stints in the kitchen at Blue Water Grill and Gramercy Tavern in Manhattan. His culinary approach is to find top-quality ingredients and tweak them minimally.
The customer favorites are a toss-up between the Chopped Vegetable Salad and the Porterhouse for 2.
The salad is comprised of iceberg lettuce, radicchio, frisee, watercress, cucumber, hearts of palm, olives, tomatoes, avocado, radish and red onion, all tossed in an oregano vinaigrette. It is light, healthy and fresh, and people crave it, the chef said.
The Porterhouse for 2 is a behemoth chunk—38 ounces—of 28-day dry-aged prime beef. It’s slathered with herb butter after being broiled to a crispy char.
The signature dish is the Tuna Tartare, which is made of chopped #1 sushi-grade, big-eye tuna. It is seasoned with white pepper and served over avocado-and-soy wasabi dressing and topped with crispy shallots.
“It is a very straightforward pairing, not to overpower the tuna, but to complement it,” chef Crooks said.
The signature category for any BLT Steak would not be complete without the mention of popovers though, he added. The light, fluffy rolls, similar to Yorkshire pudding, are finished with Gruyère cheese at BLT.
Chef Crooks’s favorite dish is the Bone-In Ribeye. It is a 22-ounce piece of meat, broiled and basted with a brown butter. The brown butter’s nutty flavor is used to enhance the taste of the meat. Plated, the beef is topped with a garlic, shallot, parsley and sage compound butter, and served with roasted garlic and bone marrow.
“Compound butter is a facet that goes great with beef, period,” the chef said. The fat of the butter, and the subtle flavor of the spices and herbs complements the red meat well.
BLT Steak is located at the Capri, 281 County Road, 39A. Dinner is served Wednesday through Sunday, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The kitchen is open on Wednesday and Sunday until 10 p.m., Thursday until 11 p.m. and Saturday until midnight. Lunch is served Saturday and Sunday from noon until 5 p.m.