One thing about Eastern Long Island: There is no shortage of good Italian restaurants. This fact is thanks, in large part, to the numerous machinations of one extended family, the Gambino family. In 1970, Pietro and Salvatrice Gambino founded Westhampton’s Baby Moon restaurant, an extension of their Sicilian roots. They had left that island in search of a better life for their family, as the Italian economy had tanked.
Here’s the complicated Gambino family tree: Pietro Gambino’s brother, Celestino, opened Southampton’s La Parmigiana in 1974. Lina Venesina, sister to Celestino and Pietro, opened the recently sold Conca d’Oro in Sag Harbor in 1975. Lina’s son John runs Hampton Bays’ Edgewater’s. Another Gambino sister, Sara Burriesci, opened East Hampton’s Luigi’s Italian Specialties in 1996, along with her husband, Luigi Burriesci. Some years later, their son, Enzo Burriesci, extended the family’s business to Montauk with Primavera Italian Specialties.
If you’re keeping score, that’s six restaurants in total, all of which remain open except for Conca d’Oro, which is now the home of the much-debated Sag Pizza. And it all began with Pietro Gambino and his wife, Salvatrice, who purchased a post office outpost and converted it into a pizzeria. The pair spent most of their time at the restaurant, accommodating guests and building a convivial dining experience, until Pietro (who ultimately went by his Americanized name, Peter) died in 2013. Seeking retirement herself, Salvatrice handed management of the space over to her three daughters. Today, Maria, Paula, and Jackie, along with their respective husbands, Marcello, Sal, and Carlo, continue to bring this tried-and-true cuisine to Westhampton.
And what can diners expect from this Westhampton stalwart? Menus are all-encompassing, offering something for just about everyone. At lunch, there are salads, pastas, and other predictable items, along with “mini pizzas.” Staying on trend, the restaurant even offers up a gluten-free cauliflower crust pizza, for those looking to dine a little lighter. But if it’s gut-busting you’re after, they have that, too; lunch sandwiches include heroes Parmigiana-style, in eggplant, veal, or meatball, and a sausage and peppers hero, to name a few.
At dinner, one would be remiss to skip the pastas. There are, after all, over 25 pasta options offered. Classicists will be happy to see takes on lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, rigatoni a la vodka, fettuccini Alfredo, and baked ziti on the menu. But the more adventurous among us will be equally happy to see paccheri with tomatoes, zucchini, arugula, and goat cheese; orecchiette with beans and escarole; bucatini with fresh clams and pesto; and farfalle with fresh salmon, capers, tomato, and basil.
Some of the meat entrees may feel predictable, but that rule does not apply to a grilled Cornish game hen, or the Porterhouse pizzaiola (served with mushrooms, peppers, onions, and olives). In addition to its in-house dining options, Baby Moon offers both takeout and catering. Dishes can be ordered for either 10 or 20 people, with trays of food available of nearly any menu item, excluding the steaks. Prices, for a full tray, range from $30 to $95 for appetizers, $55 to $95 for pastas, $65 to $85 for vegetables, $60 to $95 for seafood, and $60 to $90 for meat dishes. With so many options (the pasta menu alone can feel staggering at times), it’s hard not to find something appealing to eat.
And so, even as the older Gambinos pass on, the tradition of feeding hungry East Enders continues. There is a long legacy here, one that extends all the way from Westhampton to Montauk. The extended Gambino family has made a successful go of Italian food. With any luck, they’ll continue to do so for another 40 years.