While most think of the Hampton’s as a place where the rich and famous hob-nob, I had a different experience. I spent the summers of 2012 and 2013 in East Hampton, working at a small store on Main Street called Dylan’s Candy Bar. While Dylan’s Candy Bar is owned by Ralph Lauren’s daughter, Dylan, the store employs locals, mainly students from East Hampton High School. Working there I was able to meet those that live in East Hampton year round, not just those that come during the summer to enjoy their Mega-Mansions and lavish lifestyles. Spending my summers in East Hampton, I learned a lot about the town.
First off, some of the best doughnuts you will ever eat come from the ice cream store, Scoop Du Jour. Their ice cream is delicious as well, but the doughnuts are the real highlight. The store also makes simple sandwiches, like PB&J and grilled cheese, which can hold you over if everywhere else has a line out the door. Just be sure to grab a cinnamon donut with your sandwich to get the best experience.
For pizza, you have to go to Fierro’s. I spent way too many lunch breaks there because everything is incredible, and cheap. Their Sicilian style pizza is unbelievable! And if you feel guilty just eating pizza, their broccoli rabe is to die for. They make fantastic pizza, pasta, calzones, salads, panini, and even full entrees like chicken parmigiana. Be sure to try their rice balls, or arancini. It is a ball of rice, with meat or vegetables in the middle, deep fried and covered with cheese and marinara. Just try it and thank me later.
Rowdy Hall is a must, especially for their decadent burger. Rowdy Hall is owned by the same proprietors that own Nick and Toni’s, Townline BBQ, and La Fondita, so you know it is going to be good. Rowdy Hall features a very diverse menu, with a falafel burger, croques monsieur, and a steak salad. But the overall winner, in my opinion, is the Rowdy Burger. It is worth the $15.
While Nick and Toni’s is worth the price of admission, I would recommend you skip Townline BBQ. Coming from the south, I was utterly disappointed by what they called BBQ sauce. To me, it was closer to marinara than actual bbq sauce. Nothing about it was fantastic, especially the corn bread which was in no way authentic.
If you want a quick lunch to take on a picnic or without the hefty wait time of other establishments, I would suggest grabbing something from Citarella or Mary’s Marvelous. The original Mary’s Marvelous is actually in Amagansett, but they opened one in East Hampton a few years back. They offer delicious pastries, salads, and sandwiches, that are perfect for the on-the-go lunch. Citarella is also a great choice if you want a quick sandwich or salad. Everything is a bit overpriced, but everything is a bit overpriced in the Hampton’s. I took a salad or sandwich from Citarella to the beach many times and it was consistently decent. They also have a great selection of snacks, like chocolate covered almonds, that make it worth the stop on the way to Main Beach.
If you are headed to the beach, the Hampton’s Free Ride is a god-send. While it is free, I suggest giving your driver a dollar or two tip. Main Beach is a great stop, with picnic tables, and a small restaurant serving ice-cream and sandwiches during peak season. However, Main Beach does get very crowded, so if a relaxing day at the beach is your goal, pick another beach.
A great, but pricey, place to stop is Round Swamp Farm. Their produce is incredible, as well as their cheese, bread, and pies. I fell in love with their cheese straws, so definitely make time to stop there. For more information and the exact location visit roundswampfarm.com.
Check out LongHouse Reserve to see some interesting pieces of art. The grounds are full of unique sculptures and gardens that make it worth the trip. It is well worth the $10 ticket. If you find yourself wanting to come back several times, they do offer a variety of memberships that are cheaper than paying $10 in admission every visit. Visit http://www.longhouse.org for more information about memberships and the artist.
If you a bit of spare time in East Hampton, before getting on the Jitney or LIRR, be sure to walk around. On days off I would often walk down side-roads stemming off of Main Street. I happened to stumble across some truly beautiful and unique homes, as well as a small park with a lovely pond. East Hampton was founded in 1648, so take the time to explore the town and it’s past. And for those of you interested in seeing Ina Garten, you might be lucky enough to see her leaving her office on Newtown Lane, above where her shop, Barefoot Contessa, used to be.