Monday, May 17, 2010

T: The NYT Style Magazine: Montauk dining

High Season | Montauk’s Navy Beach

Navy Beach

Even with the raucous Surf Lodge (locals tend to sidestep it) and summer visitors Robert De Niro and Gwyneth Paltrow on the scene, the vibe in Montauk is still decidedly laid-back.

The easygoing restaurant Navy Beach, which opened on Thursday in the old Sunset Saloon, should help keep the “un-Hamptons” atmosphere intact, while quietly injecting some style. Boaters can come into Fort Pond Bay (once occupied by the U.S. Navy), drop anchor and dinghy in to dine, à la Sunset Beach. It also helps that Leyla Marchetto is on the scene.

Marchetto, 30, is the daughter of the ebullient Silvano Marchetto of Da Silvano and a co-owner of neighboring Scuderia. The Navy Beach partner knows the food and celebrity scene well. As a student at the Little Red School house in Greenwich Village, she would take her class next door to Da Silvano to eat spaghetti. “Once when I was four, I waited up to see Tom Cruise” at Da Silvano, she recalled. Then there was the time Gianni Versace drew a dress for her on a napkin.

Marchetto’s fiancé, Franklin Ferguson, and their friends Frank and Kristina Davis are the other partners. Chef Paul LaBue (most recently at The Laundry in East Hampton, and before that The Beacon and Nick & Toni’s) plans to serve local seafood cooked with flair: lobster pot pie is updated with wild mushrooms, snow peas and corn in lobster stock; steak with hand-cut frites rivals Raoul’s. And then there are juicy littleneck clams with white beans and chorizo, and plates of Mexican-style corn topped with chili powder, melted cheese and lime. Sticky bread-and-butter pudding is one of the less bikini-friendly desserts.

The restaurant’s decor blends vintage beach club and yacht club, with whitewashed walls, wood beams, nautical flags and shadowboxed retro swimsuits and bathing caps. Photos of bathing beauties Raquel Welch, Grace Kelly, Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren grace the walls. Out on the beach, there are picnic tables set in the sand with Adirondack chairs and “tree trunk” stools. The bar, with nautical flags that spell out “drink,” has Argentine and Venezuelan bartenders and attracted a crowd during previews. Peter Beard, Bruce Weber, Lauren Bush and Mickey Drexler are likely to be early patrons, said Marchetto, while restaurateur Serge Becker stopped by last Saturday night.

It’s not easy to find (even helpful locals aren’t sure). Getting to the tucked-away beach involves veering past the former Navy yards and down a winding lane. It may be hidden, but in Montauk word travels fast.

Navy Beach, 16 Navy Road, Montauk; (631) 668-6868. Open until the end of October