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Osteria Salina

Written by Alexa Ray Joel. When my dear friend Matthew Berritt invited my mother and me to Osteria Salina, I accepted immediately. See, my father has been raving about this family-owned spot for some time now. In fact, Dad stops in several times a week for lunch or dinner. He’s pretty picky when it comes to Italian food, so there must be something to all the buzz about this Sicilian-influenced eatery. It’s named after an Aeolian island off the coast of Sicily, and I am eager to sit down and experience what this restaurant promises to deliver: Italian food with a Salinian accent. My mom and I join Social Life’s editor-in-chief, Devorah Rose, and Matthew at the bar. Cocktail in hand, Matthew is chatting up the restaurant’s charismatic owner Timothy Gaglio and his two handsome sons, who run the expansive bar, which creates a festive atmosphere that encourages easy conversation. The meal kicks off with a palate-cleansing dish: thickly sliced local cucumbers from Balsam Farms in East Hampton. They are refreshing and simply seasoned with fresh pepper, sale marino (sea salt) and a little oregano. We are then served a delightful amuse bouche: caponatina eoliana served with crostini. Composed of golden raisins, eggplant, Castelvetrano olives (green olives), celery, capers and Champagne vinegar. Caponata can be too sweetly pickled for my taste, but Salina’s is positively perfect. One primi piatti that wins me over is the spaghettini with golden cherry tomatoes and basil, a minimalist pasta dish that packs a perfect punch. On the other hand, Mom’s favorite is the mezzi rigatoni alla Siciliana, made of half rigatoni and eggplant in a tomato-based sauce. A serving of fresh mozzarella melts over the pasta to create an irresistibly rich and delightfully decadent dish. The hands-down hero of the entrées is the vitello con mollica, a veal rib chop with arugula, tomato, and red onion. Osteria Salina simply takes a pounded veal chop and dips it in mollica, a Sicilian breadcrumb. The crisp crunch of the mollica crust provides contrast to the tender white veal and is divine. The bright greens and onions, coupled with fresh tomatoes round out the dish. The most memorable wine of our meal is a lovely shiraz-viognier by the family vineyard of Terlato, a perfect fruity blend of shiraz grapes (bold) and viognier grapes (soft/light). It’s a pleasure to drink and is very soft on the palate. Having barely saved room for dessert, Mom, Matthew, Devorah, and I all agree: the gold medal goes to the torta degli angeli, a cow’s milk ricotta cheesecake with mascarpone and caramel. The creamy texture and subtle sweetness is sublime. I highly recommend this dessert offering. It’s a treat not to be missed. Another dessert that cannot go unmentioned is Osteria Salina’s biscotti, twice-baked with almonds and chocolate and served simply with a liqueur for dipping. The liqueur is actually created specifically for biscotti. Indeed, the pairing is just right. Mom teaches the table how it’s done. Rather than just dipping and eating, she drops it into the vibrant liqueur and counts to 10, allowing the biscotti to absorb just enough of its companion. The grappa that accompanies dessert is just as memorable, Milla Grappa & Camomile Liqueur by Marolo. Mom, who seldom misses a detail, loves the little glasses in which the grappa is served; each one is inscribed with the word karma. Karma is the concept of how actions and deeds cause the entire cycle of cause and effect. Everything you put out into the world will circle back to you in spades. If this is true, then Osteria Salina shows no signs of slowing down. Proprietor Timothy Gaglio and his wife (and head chef), Cinzia Gaglio, have created a Bridgehampton home for fine Sicialian cuisine in a warm familial atmosphere. So, to Osteria Salina and the Gaglios, from our family to yours, cin cin!