It was never my intention to spend the afternoon in a pint-sized coastal village of venerable colonial-style houses with white picket fences on the South Shore of Long Island. (For the record, Long Island is NOT New Jersey…at all.) Then read about the The Bellport Restaurant, dubbed “The Waverly Inn of Bellport” for all the recognizable faces that pop in.
I knew I shouldn’t have crossed the street before retrieving husband’s dry-cleaning, but the delicious scent of food and french blue doors lured me inside. The plan was to sit poolside, enjoying the last lazy days of summer (as Jacqueline Bouvier did in the 1940‘s) sipping pink bubbly after a few days in the city and The Hamptons. That didn’t happen.
Drycleaning could wait, but Buttermilk Fried Chicken couldn’t. My Mamie used to make it, so blame it on her. And that was that. Before I knew it I was sitting next to a stuffed rooster by the window with a handwritten menu in my hand. Non-matching tables in sunflower yellow, cobalt blue chairs and odd pieces of “object d’art” all work together to create a warm receptive atmosphere. The perfect spot for a romantic escape from the city and obnoxious tourists.
Nestled on main street in town, this place was like a set right out of “Fried Green Tomatoes” with brighter colors. Except Idgie wouldn’t have raced across the street in a long vintage white lace coat and heels. Hardly down home attire, but at least the locals were impressed. That’s how it is when I get that urge. If Idgie Threadgoode and Ruth had appeared, I wouldn’t have been surprised (Idgie is the one who wears pants and cuts her hair short and has a crush on Ruth, remember?) But owners European-trained Cordon Bleu Chef Taylor Alonso and wife, Patricia Trainor (the quintessscene of the Bellport Restaurant) were the next best thing. They set their sights on Bellport after years in Manhattan, England, and Washington, D.C. At first, Chef Alonso’s presentation’s of food appear to be simple, but with closer study, Alonso’s dishes reveal his talent. It’s is a great chef who makes a complex dish look simple, appealing to the eye, and of utmost importance – great tasting. Alonso accomplishes all three.
And Chef’s sensational oysters. Holy, chicken feed. Even my Chloe bag had a hot flash. Signature dishes like Corn Crusted Oysters, Good Ole’ Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Jumbo Lump Louisiana Crabcakes are cooked from scratch. With a genuine warm smile and sassy sense of style, Patricia smiled. She and husband Chef Alonso seem to be plucked from the same patch. Think a bubbly Lucille Ball in a turban and that’s her. It’s clear cooking is love and let me tell you, there’s a whole lotta love coming outa this upscale country-style casual restaurant. The culinary offerings are countrified, yet presented with an updated flair.
The Hamptons it’s not, as many grateful residents will tell you. The village is free of the bumper to bumper Escadades that have become ever more a problem in Long Island’s most famous seasonal resort, the Hamptons. It’s not the ‘dress up and go out to dinner’ crowd, its a little slice of exclusive Americana off the beaten path. More akin to Mayberry in many ways. And hey, if The Bellport is booked, stroll over to Porter’s. Locals say they have good food too.
Bottom line; Bellport is the antithesis of the Hamptons. I guess that’s why Anne Hathaway lives there during the summer. I imagine she enjoys the feeling of being tucked away from the world, just as we all do. Why Anne, was that you at the table near the window at The Bellport?
Now if I could just get that dry cleaner to ship Husband’s shirts back to California…