East Hampton darling Cittanuova, offers compelling Italian food, a convivial atmosphere, and casual comfort. The restaurant opened in 2004.
Following the untimely deaths of owners Ben and Bonnie Krupinksi in June 2018, those dedicated to Cittanuova, in all its fluid, easy glory, hope that it will remain exactly as it is catering to those who want both upscale food and an approachable environment in which to eat it. Open for both lunch and dinner, the restaurant serves everything from pizza to hand-made pastas, from quartinos to full bottles of wine.
At the restaurant’s rear, a small, pergola-shaded patio offers coveted outdoor dining — a perk that’s at a premium in the Hamptons, especially in the village. During the cooler months, heat lamps perk up the space, so that patrons can sit outside for more of the year.
The menu at Cittanuova is varied. At lunch, there are oysters on the half shell, marinated olives, and red lentil hummus available as “snacks,” as well as a wide array of soups and salads (the minestrone has been on the menu for years, and remains a personal favorite). For larger appetites, there is an entire section dedicated to paninis. The meatball version, a play on the sub, is served with two meatballs, marinara sauce, and burrata cheese, pressed together on a piece of ciabatta. More ambitious, perhaps — though no less delicious — is the Panini giusto, a combination of prosciutto cotto, tuna, Brie, tomato, and tartar sauce, also on ciabatta.
Pastas are available for both lunch and dinner, and include a roster of the classics (linguine served with baby clams, garlic, and Calabrian chiles; orecchiette with Italian sausage and broccoli rabe; penne with tomato sauce and fresh basil) and the contemporary updates (gnocchi with roasted pork belly, arugula, and Grana Padano, for instance). Pasta selections rotate with the seasons. In the evenings, more substantive dishes, like chicken Milanese, pasture-raised strip steak, and veal marsala, are also available.
And then there are the pizzas, which are both toothsome and crisp. They are thin without disintegrating into cracker-like theater, a testament to the quality of craftsmanship and ingredients. Pizza styles — red vs. white — are pitted against one another in dueling menu columns. On the left, the red camp pays homage, naturally, to a simple margherita, but there’s also a meatball and ricotta, a diavola with soppressata, a buffalo mozzarella and tomato, a classic pepperoni, and a fennel sausage version. White pizzas are less traditional: kale and pesto, mushroom and taleggio, pancetta and basil, prosciutto and arugula, artichoke hearts and roasted peppers.
One of the best items on Cittanuova’s long, considered menu, however, comes at meal’s end: a single scoop of creamy vanilla gelato topped with a shot of espresso, the antidote to all that ails. Sure, there are affogatos to be enjoyed elsewhere, but you can have this one on a patio beneath a pergola in the village, any old time you want it.