Defined by the rugged Apennine Mountains to the west and the blue waters of the Adriatic Sea to the east, Italy’s wild and windswept Abruzzo region east of Rome is renown for its unique regional flavors.
Now, a bit of Abruzzo is coming to the East End thanks to the owners of Il Mulino, the famed restaurant group in Manhattan which has eateries scattered across the country and around the world.
This spring, Il Mulino New York will open in the Wainscott space most recently occupied by Osteria Salina. It’s a beautiful spot on Georgica Pond that has admittedly seen a number of restaurants come and go in recent years, but Lee Katzoff, vice president of Il Mulino New York, is not concerned and in fact, is looking forward to bringing a taste of eastern Italy by way of Manhattan to the beach.
“We were approached and we thought, ‘We’ll try it.’” explained Ms. Katzoff in a recent phone interview. “It’s like a house with a lot of rooms. We know what we have to do. We have a great team, they’re professional, they know the brand and will work the brand, above all else.”
There’s good reason for Ms. Katzoff’s confidence in the new restaurant. Over the course of nearly four decades, Il Mulino has developed a loyal following and a long-standing reputation as one of the finest Italian eateries in the city.
The Il Mulino story dates back to 1981, when two brothers from Italy, Fernando and Gino Masci, opened a restaurant in Greenwich Village to bring their authentic Abruzzo cuisine to New Yorkers. The reputation quickly grew and seats at the diminutive eatery in became some of the most difficult to secure in town — and it remained that way in the years that followed.
Then, in 2001, the brothers sold their thriving restaurant to Jerry Katzoff (Lee’s husband) and his business partner Brian Galligan who envisioned expanding and building on the Il Mulino brand. More restaurants (including steak houses and trattorias) were opened on the Upper East Side and throughout Manhattan, on Long Island’s Gold Coast and in several cities around the world, including Miami, Las Vegas, Tokyo, Atlantic City and even in Orlando at Disney World.
Though this will be the first Il Mulino to take up residence on the East End, Ms. Katzoff is already very familiar with the area, the new space, her customer base, and the personnel who will be running the restaurant.
“We’re always looking for possible locations, and we love the Hamptons,” she said. “All of our family and friends live in the city or out there, so it’s a natural move for us. The space is great, there’s plenty of parking and the view is great.
“You can’t get much better.”
Ms. Katzoff expects that Il Mulino will open with a family and friends night in late April or early May, followed by weekend service leading up to the full-on summer season. In the meantime, there is some work to be done on the inside to spruce up the décor. No doubt Ms. Katzoff, a designer herself, will take a hand in that aspect of the new restaurant.
“We’re fixing it up and making it look quite spiffy,” she said. “We’ll surprise you.”
Traditional Abruzzo cuisine relies heavily on local agricultural products and Il Mulino’s menus are full of seafood like octopus, clams, red snapper and shrimp, and meat offerings such as chicken, prosciutto, pancetta, veal and beef. The dishes are enhanced by black truffles, buffalo mozzarella, parmesan, sage, arugula, spinach and, of course, lots of garlic.
The restaurant’s pasta dishes include Rigatoni Alla Bolognese (braised veal and beef in a rich tomato sauce) and Capellini Il Mulino (wild mushrooms, pancetta and sweet peas in a vodka cream and black truffle sauce). Ms. Katzoff noted that the Wainscott restaurant will also have menu items defined specifically by what’s available on the East End.
“We’re going to do our great fish, and have a fish of the day,” she said. We’ll also work with local producers and support the community, which we really do believe in. It’s beautiful and there’s nothing you can’t get out there.”
In addition to dining at the restaurant, Il Mulino also sells a line of products including jarred sauces, olive oils, dried pasta, salts, vinegar and coffee, and Ms. Katzoff noted that the Wainscott restaurant will also offer catering services as well as some prepared food to go.
“It’s not like Citarella, but you can call in,” she said. “As we grow, we’ll add to our ‘to go’ items. I think it will just be terrific. We have staff that will be there from the city that will go back and forth — people we work with who know so many of the guests.”
When asked if the Wainscott branch of Il Mulino New York will stay open year round, Ms. Katzoff said, “Our plan is to stay open year round — like Nick and Toni’s — and also be open on long weekends and holidays. The Hamptons seem to really be much busier than they were a number of years ago.”
“I think everyone is looking forward to it. Florence Fabricant said, ‘I can walk to you,’” added Ms. Katzoff, referring to the New York Times food critic. “I said, ‘take sneakers, you’ll be fine.’’
For more information about the restaurant, visit ilmulino.com