By Dawn Watson
There’s something just the slightest bit different about 6 Bay Street in Sag Harbor as of late.
The scenery, both on the privet-lined patio and inside the cozy restaurant and bar, is the about the same. Managing partner and executive chef Maurizio Marfoglia is still outside greeting friends at the hostess stand and flitting from table to table. And the items on the contemporary Italian menu are recognizable, if perhaps a touch updated.
Even the regulars might not realize the slightest of shifts and subtle changes after a cursory glance. But there are a few things that an observant diner might notice.
The sign out front is gone. Mr. Marfoglia is a more constant presence. There’s no name anywhere on the menus, and the outgoing voicemail message says, somewhat cryptically, “thank you for calling the restaurant.”
That’s because the high-end Italian eatery—now named “Dopo La Spiaggia,” which translates to “after the beach” in Italian—has a few fewer chefs in the kitchen, so to speak. Mr. Marfoglia and building owners Maria and Larry Baum remain at the helm, while Gaby Karan De Felice, Gianpaolo De Felice and their Tutto il Giorno continue in business in Southampton and Tribeca. The transition hasn’t slowed the eatery down one bit. In fact, all the unintentional cloak-and-dagger seems to have added to the hotspot’s allure, laughs Ms. Baum.
“People are treating it like some exclusive insider place. Like ‘wow, there’s no name. Cool,’” she says. But it’s not by design, the North Haven resident add. The new name will appear on signs, menus, online and elsewhere within the next week or so.
One thing that won’t change much is the high level of food, she reports. At Dopo, diners can expect more of Mr. Marfoglia’s delectable dishes, made simply and from the best ingredients he can source.
“It’s still modern Italian with classic recipes,” the restaurant’s affable front man said last week during a mouthwatering four-course tasting dinner he curated for the Express, which included Cavolini (shaved Brussels sprout Caesar with toasted pine nuts; $24), Crudo (fresh-off-the-boat scallop with caviar, sea beans and lemon; $25 ), Tagliolini (Bay scallops, shrimp, calamari, imported Calabrian chilies and tomato; $29) and Ippoglossio (pan-seared halibut, faro, purple kale and chanterelle mushrooms; $34). “But the ingredients, which will be organic as much as we can, will be more geared toward a healthier and lighter menu.”
The chef, who originally hails from Lake Como, Italy, says that he’s excited to stay and helm this latest venture with the Baums. Particularly as he’s now free to spend less time heading back and forth to a restaurant in the city and more at home in Sag Harbor with his wife and children. “It’s a dream come true,” he says, motioning to the patio full of happy diners and beyond to the water just across the street. “This is what it’s all about. Friends, family, good food, fun times and a beautiful view. It reminds me of all the things I love about Italy And it’s right here.”
Joining the dinner table was Ms. Baum, who reported that she and her husband are thrilled to take a more hands-on approach at the restaurant again. Nearly a decade ago, they opened up Tutto with their friend Steve Florio, who died after that first winter. After that, they happily settled into the role of landlords and partners, until now.
“We’ve been the walls but he’s been the heartbeat since he arrived,” she said, gesturing toward Mr. Marfoglia, who was recruited to Sag Harbor from Barolo in the city eight years ago. “Here we’ve got the very essence of Italy, with an extremely high level of locally-sourced food and his personality. We are very lucky.”
Even though its early days, it’s been “warm, happy and fun” experience, says Ms. Baum, who is also the CEO of Tracy Anderson. And as much as the latest incarnation of the restaurant and her expanding role in it adds a few new responsibilities to her very busy schedule, it’s well worth it.
“Now it’s back to that initial magic we felt in the very beginning during that first season with Steve,” she says of Dopo. “It’s a special spot, and one that has all our hearts and souls.”
Dopo La Spiaggia is open for dinner seven days a week, starting at 5:30 p.m., and for lunch on Saturdays and Sundays, starting at noon. The eatery is slated to open for full-service lunches and dinners every day no later than July 4. For additional information and reservations, call (631) 725-7009.