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Chef/Owner Of Muse In The Harbor, Matthew Guiffrida

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Since Muse In The Harbor has officially opened its doors, we went straight to the proprietor himself (via a PR intermediary), Matthew Guiffrida, for a down and dirty Email interview. Our "conversation" covered everything from his plans for the "cursed" space to his predictions for the upcoming season to his favorite area restaurants.

We've yet to make it out to the new eatery?it only opened on Thursday?but if the pictures we've seen are any indication of the food, it should be a treat. Guess we'll have to wait for Hamptons Restaurant Week to give it a test spin.

In the meantime, if you've had the opportunity to check out the space/cuisine, feel free to share you experience in the comments.

We've read about how much you love Sag Harbor and how you jumped at the opportunity to take the space on Main Street when it became available. What it is about the hamlet that you find so appealing?

Of course, the proximity to the water is a no-brainer. I rented a house on Madison Street, which is a great walk to the restaurant. I love looking at the old architecture, having conversations with neighbors, even watching the dogs without leashes. Everyone is just so friendly here.

On that note, what are you going to miss most about the Water Mill location?

Luckily Water Mill isn't too far from Sag Harbor so I hope my customers follow me to the new location. I'd miss them if they didn't. I'll also miss the other Water Mill Commons tenants and the landlords. Everyone looks out for one another and I'm grateful for the friends I've made in there.

Are you worried that the new space is "cursed"? La Maison, JLX-Bistro, and Peter Miller's and most recently Pomme Café have all given it a go and failed pretty quickly. Why do you think you'll succeed?

Not at all. 16 Main Street is one of the best locations, not just in Sag Harbor but in the Hamptons. You've got the water and Main Street. It needs a restaurateur to really invest in the space. One that will do the right thing by catering to this tight-knit community. I'm a local - I know what I have to do to keep everyone happy year-round, not just in the summer.

What's the menu going to be like? Any surprises? How do you plan on standing out amongst the seafood and steak joints that seem to be everywhere out here?

The menu is an expanded version of the old Muse in Water Mill.

We're adapting it to fit in with the Sag Harbor atmosphere by offering more seafood. We'll also be open a lot more serving dinner as well as breakfast, brunch, and lunch (we only did dinner in Water Mill). We're taking advantage of the larger space and increase in foot traffic by boosting our nightlife activity with late-night fare, drinks and live entertainment.

We really stand out from the others by the way we do our food. We keep our creative juices flowing with a lot of specials, seasonal menus and customized options (we always have something special for vegans and vegetarians). If a customer isn't in the mood for "Three Little Pigs" ( a trilogy of pork: pulled pork and maple spiked mustard on charred scallion Johnny cake; extra thick homemade bacon over pimento and cheddar oatmeal; and teriyaki and cider braised pork belly on apple onion stir-fry), we can simplify a dish for them or they can order our "Simply Grilled" dishes.

What's your favorite dish on the menu?

That's a hard question because I really like everything on the menu. If I don't like it, I won't cook it. My new favorite is the Harbor Carbonara.

What do you think the biggest obstacle is for running a successful year round restaurant out here?


What's your favorite part of the business? Least favorite?

My favorite part is interacting with my customers and cooking my style of food - being creative and making it fun. I really enjoy delivering the food to the tables myself, seeing the reactions on my customers' faces, and establishing relationships with them.

I can honestly say there's no aspect I don't like - I like the pressure, the challenges, being in the weeds, problem-solving...

What do you predict the summer's going to be like? Since you're opening well before the season starts, do you think you'll be able to work out the kinks?

Summer is going to be slamming. We're in a great spot right on the water and we serve a great product inside the restaurant. Our old customers are excited to come back and we now have to opportunity to introduce Muse to new customers.

Yes, the kinks will definitely be worked out and well before the season kicks off.

Other than you're own, what are you favorite restaurants out here?

When I do get a chance to sneak away, I go to The Beacon in Sag Harbor. I also like Stone Creek Inn in East Quogue and Paradise Cafe, Sen, and Tutto Il Giorno in Sag Harbor.

What's the one thing you want people to know about the new location?

We didn't just go into the restaurant, turn the lights on and open it for business. We did renovations throughout, we did a lot of work, and we made many changes. We went to this location but made it Muse with our personal touch (like the fish tank). We're going to be here for a long time so we took the time and invested in it to make it our own and to do it right.

· Muse In The Harbor [Official Site]

MUSE Restaurant & Aquatic Lounge

760 Montauk Highway, Water Mill, New York 11976 631 726 2606

Muse In The Harbor

16 Main Street, Sag Harbor, NY 11963 631 899 4810 Visit Website