Shelter Island businesses sprinting into the season

ANNETTE HINKLE PHOTO Nautical-themed tablewear and candles at Dabney Lee.
ANNETTE HINKLE PHOTO Nautical-themed tablewear and candles at Dabney Lee.

With Memorial Day weekend typically marking the beginning of the summer season on Shelter Island, 2016 is less about new businesses than returning businesses.

Topping the list is Bella Vita. The pizzeria left its Center premises last December to the dismay of many pizza-craving Islanders, but it’s about to reopen as a full service restaurant and pizzeria at a new site, the former Clark’s Fish House on Route 114. John Riccobono has been hoping for an opening May 27, but at press time, he wasn’t certain all would be in place at the new venue. Besides the usual pizza, the new restaurant will feature table service with a basic menu of dishes, including spaghetti and meatballs and chicken parmigiana, along with specials.

Vine Street Café’s market on Route 114 has not only its tried-and-true assortment of specialty items, but a number of new products, exclusive to its stock. And Vine Street’s food truck has undergone a “spiffy renovation” with a menu that has been tweaked for lunches, according to Lisa Murphy, who operates Vine Street with Terry Harwood. As for the restaurant, it remains “the classic it has been from the beginning,” Ms. Murphy said. This summer’s menu will include specials such as grilled trout on Wednesday evenings. The food truck is for lunch, the restaurant for dinner and the market for those in-between times when you’re cooking at home and need that special flavoring, Ms. Murphy said.

New to the scene this summer is Endless Summer Grille at the Shelter Island Country Club at Goat Hill. While the site is well known for its spectacular location, Chef Peter Ambrose, an East End caterer, will be taking charge of the kitchen and the latest incarnation of restaurants that have occupied the space at Goat Hill. Operating Thursdays through Sundays until Father’s Day weekend, the restaurant will then expand to a full summer schedule. Lunch will feature the chef’s signature fish tacos, a Martha Clara wine-spiked mac ‘n cheese, a Nori-brined, apple-wood-smoked, pulled chicken sandwich and toasted Montauk lobster rolls.

18 Bay on Route 114 certainly isn’t new to the Island, but what is new is its Crudo Bar menu that will include pairings of food and wine beginning at 3 p.m. every day, according to spokesman Jimmy Rando. All of the more than 60 wines featured can be ordered by the glass. Dinners will be served beginning at 5:30 p.m. Known for its farm-to-table menus, 18 Bay has arrangements with several self-sustainable farm operations as well as locally caught fish. Anyone who’s a vegan, vegetarian or needs a gluten-free dish will find items on the menu as well, Mr. Rando said.

The Ram’s Head Inn on Ram Island Drive may be an Island mainstay, but its Harbor Hall is a newly renovated cocktail and music lounge that takes its name from the view of Coecles Harbor and the classic music hall feel of the bar, lounge and patio, according to spokeswoman Susie Halloran. The lounge’s popular live music nights featuring classic rock and jazz are often paired with North Fork vineyard wine tastings. Add to that Harry Brigham’s locally-sourced cocktails putting his own twist on classics. “Think blueberry mohitos boasting fresh mint and berries plucked from the Ram’s Head’s own garden,” Ms. Halloran said. This summer will feature Tuesday Tunes and Tasting with live music from Jon Divello and wine tasting from Macari Vineyard on June 14. The usual Sunday night jazz series will continue throughout the summer season.

Reinventing its menu seasonally is Red Maple at the Chequit Inn on Grand Avenue in Shelter Island Heights. New executive chef Gayle Scarberry, who was the hotel’s pastry chef last year, will be offering rustic small plates, light fare and entrees and will add lunch service and weekend brunch on Sundays. But that’s not all that’s new at the Chequit. White Hill Café returns with a line of “Red Maple to Go” wraps, salads and side dishes for picnics. It’s also selling plates, napkins, cutlery, baskets and totes. White Hill will continue to offer its Jack’s Stir Brew coffee and pastries by Baked and will expand its outdoor seating on the porch for guests to enjoy coffee and a nosh to start their day. Salt Supply is the Chequit’s new retail store, offering a selection of products from small independent designers, craftsmen and manufacturers as well as basic items vacationers might have forgotten to pack.

At Jack Kiffer’s The Dory on Bridge Street, the news is a proposal for a summer jazz weekend. At Town Board meeting last month, the idea for a series of jazz performances at Volunteer Park, tentatively scheduled to start Saturday, July 23 from 5 to 9 p.m. was discussed. Also on the agenda for the Dory is the annual Freddie Cole concerts on July 25, 26 and 27. “Everything’s going cool,” Mr. Kiffer said, optimistic that the various events will come off smoothly.

Marie Eiffel kept her Bridge Street market open four days a week this winter, and the market and her clothing store at Chase and Grand avenues are in full swing seven days a week for the summer season. Ms. Eiffel is focused on the basics at the market that have made it popular, but also on adding to the menu. There will be more seafood specialties and a lot of healthy dishes, she said. Sandwiches will still be available, but she wants more emphasis on full meals and, of course, the pastries that keep a lot of her customers returning, she said. Hours are from about 6:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. but soon she’ll be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

SALT owners Keith Bavaro and Ali Bevilacqua open their restaurant at the Island Boatyard on South Menantic Road Thursdays through Sundays for dinner beginning at 5 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, lunch is served beginning at noon.

The Tavern at Shelter Island House on Stearns Point Road will be open between 5 and 9 p.m. for dining Wednesdays through Sundays for the summer and fall seasons, according to its website. The bar will open at 4 p.m. It advertises a chef with “a genuine love of all things cuisine” and dishes chosen from what’s fresh from local farmers and fishermen.

Commander Cody’s at Smith Street and Midway Road is open every day for lunch and dinner along with its fish market. Seniors planning weekend cookouts will receive a 10 percent discount on Thursdays on fish market items, except lobster. Aside from the items Amanda Hayward and her crew cook for you, she’ll be carrying an upscale line of fish, including halibut and wild salmon along with fresh lobsters. The commander always has salads and shrimp cocktail platters, Ms. Hayward said.

Sweet Tomato’s on Grand Avenuehas hours Tuesday through Saturdays for dinner beginning at 5 p.m. as well as lunch beginning at noon on Saturdays and Sunday brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.On Memorial Day Sunday, the restaurant will offer dinner.

Kyle’s on Route 114 has been advertising that it’s “not just pizza” and will be open Saturday and Sunday for the holiday weekend and carrying the “usual suspects” of meals and pastries as well as pizza.

STARs Café on Grand Avenue is open every day of the year except Christmas, so it’s hard to imagine an expansion of hours, but Lydia Martinez said that’s what’s happening as she and husband Pepe prepare for the summer rush. There will be an updated menu featuring tamales, empanadas, fresh paddy burgers and other specialties. Downstairs, the two are preparing to reopen their juice and ice cream bar.

Maria Schultheis will carry Mexican specialties at Maria’s Kitchen on Jaspa Road. Besides the usual array of fresh and plentiful choices, Maria is offering several juices and smoothies. She’ll be open on Mondays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Tuesdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Eagle Deli on West Neck Road continues its usual breakfast and lunch menu and snacks. But new to the store is the coffee bar that now dispenses milk and half ‘n half from machines instead of cartons and various sweeteners, also from machines.

The Pridwin on Shore Road will be open to customers Memorial Day weekend, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner both Saturday and Sunday and breakfast on Monday. After Memorial Day, the Pridwin will close down, except for private parties, until June 19 when it begins its regular summer season, according to manager Glenn Petry.

Sunset Beach, just down the road from the Pridwin is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays serving lunch from noon to 3:30 p.m. and dinner from 6 to 10 p.m. After June 17, the restaurant is open all week and adds weekend breakfast service.

Jim Hull is beginning his second summer season at Shelter Island Craft Brewery on Route 114 in the Center where he promises a line of new brews, including “bees knees,” made with honey and a back tone of lavender; many light summer beers; and a popular stout made with vanilla. He’ll be open seven days a week from noon until dark.

At Shelter Island Wines and Spirits on Bridge Street, Towny Montant is waiting for warm weather and promises a lot of choices of rosé wines he considers perfect for the summer season with prices starting at $10.99.

Although food and drink are prime for locals and visitors alike, shopping on Shelter Island also offers its special charms.

Jack’s Marine on Bridge Street, known as much for its toys and other items as for hardware and marine gear, is set for the summer season with indoor or outdoor equipment and crafts, according to co-owner Camille Anglin. She’s featuring platform swings and giant frisbee-like discs known as beamos. Pool lovers will find floats of all kinds. Ms. Anglin has “mini-science” projects for children of all ages and a line of “mini-sandbox” adventures, involving everything from dinosaurs to construction. She’s also ready for the latest craze of adult coloring books, something she described as “soothing.” All her choices have been both “kid- and adult-tested,” she joked, referring to her husband, Mike.

Mary Lou Eichhorn at Cornucopia on West Neck Road always has a wide selection of Shelter Island souvenirs and gifts for all occasions. She carries homemade jewelry, Shelter Island bar ware, beach glass and handmade sweaters and quilts, toys, candles and standard frames.

Dabney Lee opens for a third Shelter Island season on Bridge Street this weekend and has expanded to a second space in the Heights, featuring unique nautical gifts, candles, personalized stationery, beach blankets, shade screens and Shelter Island-themed items in the original store. The second space will offer casual seaside-friendly clothing, caftans, shirts, dresses, hats and bags for mothers and daughters. Owner Dabney Lee Woglom will also create custom invitations and other personalized items.

Bliss’ Department Store on Bridge Street carries everything from clothing to shoes and jewelry, including Shelter Island pieces.

And if you’re a photographer or artist looking for that special frame, call Sandra Waldner at Wish Rock Studio on Worthy Way at 749-5253 to set up an appointment. Maybe it’s a special picture you’ve taken of Shelter Island or your own artwork that you want framed. Whatever your need, Ms. Waldner stands ready to fill it.

At Geo Jo’s, owner Joanne Kresak is starting her 21st year by stocking more than videos, although she has plenty of those as well. New DVDs arrive regularly, Ms. Kresak said. She’s carrying a range of fair trade items from villages and other sources — items she describes as “metaphysical” that “make you feel good or relax and chill.”

Gerry Siller from Grady Riley Gardens on Menantic Road said it’s already been a busy season for him, despite what he characterized as “crazy weather.” Besides the usual assortment of plants, annuals and perennials, he has new pottery, plant material and hanging baskets as well as herbs and vegetables. “We’re looking forward to another busy season,” Mr. Siller said.

Amber Anglin’s All Dogged Up on West Neck Road is ready to fill your pet’s needs, whether it’s food, toys, grooming or doggy day care. She has upgraded some products, offering a higher quality at the store. And with the help of her boyfriend, Allen Clark, a Texas transplant, the store continues to offer grooming services and care for pets when owners can’t be there. For off-Island clients, All Dogged Up is providing free ferry transport to bring your pets here for care, Ms. Anglin said.

If you’re not out swimming or on your own boat, Jay Damuck at Shelter Island Kayak Tours stands ready to teach you the joys of kayaking. He’s fully operational and takes pride in turning a lot of first time kayakers into regulars. You can stop by his shack on North Ferry Road or call him at 749-1990 to set up a session.