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Nick & Toni's Head Chef Embraces his Sweet Tooth & Celeb Factor!

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Our mouths are already watering thinking about the intense food rivalries (okay, maybe not that intense!), dancing, drinking, and partying at Dan's Taste of Summer all weekend at Sayre Park, 156 Snake Hollow Road in Bridgehampton. We asked executive chef of Nick & Toni's Joe Realmuto to reveal his game plan for winning Dan's Taste of Two Forks this Saturday night, July 12th. It turns out that Realmuto is getting in touch with his sweet tooth for the event. He opened up to us about competition, staying relevant, and Nick & Toni's coveted celebrity factor.

What's your strategy for competing in Dan's Taste of Two Forks this Saturday, July 12th in Bridgehampton?
Actually, I think we are switching things up this year

Really? How so?
I want to highlight our new pastry chef, Rachel Cronemeyer.

That's exciting. Why are you choosing to show off dessert? That's not what comes to mind when we think of N&T-
Well, that's exactly why we're doing it. This event is really great for us, because it exposes us to so many people. It's the perfect time to introduce something new and get people excited about switching up what they order.
Nick & Toni's is arguably the most coveted restaurant in the Hamptons. Do you feel like participating in Dan's Taste of Two Forks keeps you relevant?
You know, I think it exposes us to a large group of people at once. Our reservations stay pretty full, but this event is important for us. It's a great form of advertising for the restaurant.

Nick & Toni's has been through so many changes, with the décor and the menu. What brought on all of the bold transformations?
We celebrated our 25th anniversary last August, and nothing had changed all that much. We looked around and realized that 25 years is a really long time, so we decided to reinvent ourselves. Aesthetically, we did a complete gut renovation. As for the menu, I wanted to get more involved with seasonal dishes.

Tell us more about the new influences on your menu.
Well, we're changing it every 3 weeks now, and I want it to feel local and fresh. I don't want my customers to ever get bored.

Who would dare call a Nick & Toni's dish boring?
That's what I'm afraid of! I want to the food to be interesting but stay seasonal.

Is there anything on the menu that will never change?
Definitely, the zucchini chips on the appetizers will never go. We've done them since day one.

Why do you think N&T's resonates so much with the public? It really is a destination-
We have an amazing staff that is consistent with food and service. Plus, our customers get to know the staff, and it makes it fun for everyone to see each other. People feel welcome and familiar; we get to know our customer's names. We know their kids, and we really make an effort. I think that people really respond to that.

Yes. But, c'mon, Nick & Toni's is pretty much known as a cultural experience in East Hampton. How did you generate that mystique?
Okay, we've got the celebrity factor, and I think that's a bit of a draw for people. But, we treat everyone equally. Celebrities don't get preferential treatment. For us, everyone that comes into the restaurant is a VIP. It's really about appreciating every customer that comes through the door, and I think that kind of service and our food will keep us relevant.