Nick & Toni’s Serves A-List Cuisine in the Hamptons

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Nick-and-Toni's
136 N. Main Street, East Hampton, NY 11937

Ask anyone where to go for a glamorous night out in the Hamptons and the answer will undoubtedly be the same: Nick & Toni’s. The East End hotspot boasts a regular rotation of celebrities, supermodels, and billionaires, but what keeps them coming back for more is the fresh farm-to-table fare orchestrated by Executive Chef Joe Realmuto. “I grew up in an Italian household where the dinner table was the most important place in the house,” he reveals. A way of life that still rings true today.

Whether he is maintaining the one-acre organic garden in the back of the restaurant or chatting up the area fisherman about the catch of the day, Realmuto takes a hands-on approach to his home away from home—and it shows. The award-winning chef chatted with Haute Living about creating new menus, highlighting seasonal ingredients, and standing out from the competition.

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What inspired you to become a chef?
When I was 14 years old, I worked in a catering hall running food and found myself spending all my spare time in the kitchen. I was always hanging out with the cooks, trying to keep busy, and realized that I really liked the sense of comradery among the kitchen guys.

Describe your cooking style.
It is all in the moment. I use what is available and local, and try to keep it really simple!

What separates Nick and Toni’s from other restaurants in the Hamptons?
We have been around for 26 years and have been able to employ some great staff in both the kitchen and the front of the house. The fact that our employees love what they do and where they work really comes out and helps make it a great place. Having employees that have been around for so long creates a sense of family and makes customers feel comfortable.

What are some of your favorite items on the menu?
I don’t have any favorites (just like with my children), but I really enjoy anything that comes out of the wood oven like the whole-roasted fish or the quail.

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How often does the menu change?
Our menu changes every two to three weeks. We try to change out a few things here and there as new items come into season, and to keep things fresh for the customers. We also make quick changes when our local farmers and fishermen tell us things are available, and when ingredients mature in our own garden.

Is there a specific dish on the menu that really embodies the Hamptons?
When we receive our “dock to dish” delivery, my chefs scramble to see what we have received, and then put together a dish using the fish we were delivered and anything in our cooler that keeps the dish completely local.

What are your favorite summer ingredients to cook with?
Asparagus, tomatoes, corn, fluke, and bass.

What is your least favorite food?
Beets. I want to like beets so much, and I always pop some into my mouth to try to build a liking to them, but it is not working!

What would you choose as your last meal on earth?
I’ve been fortunate to have traveled and eaten in some great restaurants, but I would be happy sitting at home eating a big pot of crabs with my family and drinking cold beer.

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