Around the Island

Shelter Island eateries shifting into gear, and food shops offering many options

The Island’s restaurants have been weathering the pandemic restrictions with ingenuity, offering guests a chance to get out of the house for a safe lunch or dinner break, or take home favorite dishes to enjoy.

Of late, the familiar sweep of the Ram’s Head Inn lawn is sporting new accessories: heated igloos for safe gatherings of groups of four to eight. Walk-in parties of any size and up to eight guests may enjoy any Igloo not reserved for food or drinks. The Inn uses an electrostatic sanitizing sprayer in between usages to ensure the experience is safe for all.

The Inn also has been featuring a changing menu, rotating through cuisines of different countries for Islanders missing the chance to travel. In recent weeks, Chef Joe Smith has offered selections from around the world and he now turns toward home, preparing a Harvest Menu focusing on local ingredients. From Truffle, Artichoke and Cauliflower Soup to Roasted Local Oysters with Artichoke, Spinach and Bacon to Crescent Farms Duck with Forbidden Black Rice to Pumpkin Creme Brulee, the menu matches the snap in the air. Dinner service is offered Thursdays through Mondays, lunch service Fridays through Mondays, with takeout available during regular service hours, as well as Sunday Brunch. Call 631-749-0811 for reservations.

Vine Street has traditionally stayed open during the winter; this fall chef-owners Terry and Lisa Harwood have offered guests heated spaces under their tent. “We hope to continue seating outside through November,” Ms. Harwood said, “but we want people to know that indoor dining is also available, with 50% of capacity seating and tables 6- feet apart.” Pointing out that the owners and staff are family, she stresses that safety precautions are paramount.

Vine Street also has a Market that offers their own branded foods, from sauces and soups to ice creams. A moderately priced selection of wines has also been added to the Market. Being at home has caused a lot of people to think about preparing foods and where the ingredients come from, Ms. Harwood said. Much of their food is made with local ingredients, from Milk Pail Farms for apples and cider to Balsam Farms for tomatoes to make their sauce. “We try to support each other and work together,” she said.

They’ve tried to keep track of shifting needs as the pandemic has changed the way people live. A call to the restaurant will order up items to take home, even if they’re not on the shelves. “We will also take your to-go order out to the car,” she said. “We’re all so connected on Shelter Island,” she said. “We look out for each other.”

Commander Cody’s Seafood is open for its fall hours. The fish market is open daily 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; serving lunch 12 noon to 2:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday; and dinner 4 p.m to 8:30 p.m. nightly. Only outdoor seating is offered. Commander Cody’s is also a fresh fish market with a wide variety of seafood available, as well as a live lobster tank. Chef Amanda is also famous for her homemade desserts.

Marie Eiffel’s Market is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Tuesday and Wednesday. Dinner specials, which can be ordered online for takeout, include hearty stews such as lamb tagine, salmon stew and beef bourguignon for chilly autumn nights. Order by noon for whole roasted duck or rotisserie chicken, duck confit or fried chicken. Pastries, coffees, roasted vegetables, salads, sandwiches and more can be also be bought in the market.

The Shelter Island Seafood Market moved into the space long known as Bob’s early this summer and has been winning fans for its onsite dining as well as takeout. The outdoor tables have heaters to keep customers comfortable, hopefully, for the next few weeks. To help gain the attention of customers, they’ve put their Thanksgiving menu on their Facebook page. From starters to main dishes (turkey or salmon) to sides,  there will be special dishes that can make the day less work and more relaxing. Order at 631-765-18181 by noon on Nov. 19.

Right next to the Seafood Market is the King Andrew Cheese Wagon, now a familiar and popular site, where an international assortment of cheeses, meats and fresh baked breads will enliven your menu. The Wagon is there every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting. The proprietors will prepare trays and platters and the wagon will be open all week of Thanksgiving. Contact is 631-553-6604, or [email protected]

Take the chill off at Isola in the Heights by sipping a Winter Ginger, made with bourbon, ginger liqueur, lemon juice and bitters. The popular burgers, pizza and chicken parmigiana are always available, with chef’s specials drawing on seasonal ingredients rotating through the menu. In addition to takeout, dining inside and outside the restaurant is operating at 50% capacity. Reservations are requested at 631.749.9036. Isola is open Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Shelter Island Slice is serving pizza Wednesday and Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and on Sunday, 12 noon to 8 p.m. Student specials offer two cheese slices and a coke for $6.50 plus tax. A beer and pizza special, featuring one draft beer and one slice of cheese pizza for $7, is offered Wednesday through Friday from 12 noon – 5 p.m. Pizzas with lots of toppings and other dishes can be ordered at 631-749-9292.

The Islander is open 7 days a week for breakfast and lunch. Dinner hours until 8:30 on Monday, Friday and Saturday, other days open until 3 p.m. The full menu is available for takeout and free delivery by calling 631-749-1998. Cash or Venmo accepted only.

Every Monday is Burger Night at the Islander. Choices range from the Burnin’ Bandito, with Jalapenos and Pepper Jack Cheese to the Reuben Burger, topped with melted Swiss, sauerkraut and Russian dressing, Other options are the Stinky with Gorgonzola cheese and bacon, and the Lineman, featuring not one but two 1/2 pounders with mayo and choice of cheese.

On Fridays a Fried Chicken Family Meal and on Saturdays a Baby Back Rib Family Meal are available, for takeout only.

There is also a wide selection of menus available at the Island’s numerous food shops, their quality proven by their popularity.

STARs Cafe (631-749-5345) is popular for morning coffee and pastries, with hearty salads and sandwiches served throughout the day.

Maria’s Kitchen (631-749-5450) serves an extensive menu of Mexican food and nutritious smoothies.

Elli’s Country Store (631-749-2844) has takeout foods, including sandwiches, burgers and paninis.

Eagle Deli (631-749-5363) has hot and cold foods, salads and sandwiches for breakfast and lunch.

The Shelter Island Heights Pharmacy (631-749-0445) has takeout available from its grill and fountain.