Kitchen Confidential: Executive Chef Joe Realmuto of Nick & Toni’s East

For the past fifteen years, Joe Realmuto has been the Executive Chef at Nick & Toni’s, the famed East Hampton eatery where the dining experience is as esteemed as the clientele. At Nick & Toni’s, Realmuto applies his fine-tuned skills in Mediterranean and Italian-inspired fare to the freshest, local ingredients to produce a superior quality of food that is consistently lauded by critics. Currently, Realmuto is the Executive Chef at Nick & Toni’s, Nick & Toni’s Café, Rowdy Hall, La Fondita, Honest Catering and Townline BBQ.

Most recently, Realmuto created the Springs School Seedling Project, a project that built a greenhouse at the local public school that his children attend.  The mission of the Springs School Seedling Project is to teach children about growing produce, cooking healthy and eating well.

How did you begin your career in the culinary field?

I grew up in Queens, where at 14 years old, I began working in a catering hall doing prep and working with the chef. After six years there, I decided to enroll in the Culinary Institute of America instead of becoming an accountant as I had originally planned.

What restaurants did you work at prior to Nick & Toni’s?

I worked at the River Café in Brooklyn and had a small stint with Steve Hanson at BR Guest. I was also on the opening team for Park Avalon.

What appetizer, entrée and dessert are the most popular on Nick & Toni’s menu?

The menu is constantly changing with the seasons at Nick & Toni’s, but we are known for our zucchini chips, Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola and the wood oven whole roasted fish.

When you’re not at your own restaurant, where can we find you dining?

I love trying new restaurants in New York City and out East. I like the West Lake Chowder House, Clam Bar and a lot of home-cooked meals.

What’s your favorite drink?

Mount Gay Rum with tonic and orange.

What’s your favorite pastime?

I love to spend time with my wife and our two children. On my days off, the kids love to go to the beach, fish, and go clamming and boating.