THE HAMPTONS IS not a summer-only locale. Indeed, some of the best days on the East End are spent in the quiet months when summer crowds filter out and reservations at restaurants don’t fill up weeks in advance. Whether it’s a fall afternoon on the ferry to Shelter Island, a snowy winter holed up in one of the area’s cozy inns or just a spontaneous train ride all the way east, these area restaurants are sure to dish up their very best.
HARVEST ON FORT POND This Montauk restaurant overlooks Fort Pond—a feature that makes its patio dining highly coveted by all. And all are welcome thanks to the space’s casual environment—meaning, you can leave the formalwear at home. The menu is influenced by Mediterranean cuisines, which shine through in dishes like pancetta shrimp with Tuscan white bean salad; sausage and Gorgonzola pizza; and salmon with cucumbers, dates and walnuts. The service is warm but not overbearing, making it the perfect place on a chilly November evening or for a leisurely May dinner. But make a reservation first to secure your place at the table. 11 S. Emery St., Montauk
NICK & TONI'S Joe Realmuto, chef de cuisine of Honest Man Restaurant Group, loves the post-Labor Day calm that washes over the Hamptons. His menus shift, inspired by the last of summer’s bounty and richer flavors of fall as they roll in. It’s a time for the restaurant to slow its pace (but not its service) and take special care of locals who spend the entire year on the East End. As with all of the Honest Man restaurants (such as La Fondita, Rowdy Hall and Townline BBQ), the doors are open to serve the entire community—both locals and those passing through—every month of the year. 136 N. Main St., East Hampton
TOPPING ROSE HOUSE This Bridgehampton mainstay not only provides memorable meals year-round, but also a history lesson. The house was built in 1842 for prominent Hamptons citizen Judge Abraham Topping Rose, and now offers a “rare glimpse at the look and feel of the community more than 150 years ago.” In the building, newly constructed in 2011, lives Jean-Georges at Topping Rose House, a casual yet refined restaurant delivering “sensible fare” for each meal of the day. Their cocktail menu is filled with options for both those wishing to imbibe and their teetotaling counterparts; drinks are accompanied by an all-day snack menu or full lunch and dinner, with classic dishes such as New York strip steak and rigatoni and meatballs. 1 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, Bridgehampton
VINE STREET CAFE Who doesn’t want to take a boat to dinner? The owners operate two seasonal ventures: the VSC Market, open spring through fall, and their food truck, which lives in front of the Milk Pail in Southampton six days a week during summer. But their main attraction is their famous Shelter Island restaurant. On the menu year-round is their crispy calamari salad, built up by seasonally available ingredients. The sunlit dining room and front patio will warm you up on the chilliest fall day, and when the sun fails, the impeccable service steps in to make your visit uniquely special. 41 S. Ferry Road, Shelter Island