1926. That was the auspicious year — a short three before the great market crash — that Pio Bozzi and John Ganzi opened the first of many Palm restaurants, breaking ground in New York City. The restaurants were known for hulking steaks, commodious décor, and a convivial vibe that welcomed artists, writers, and, naturally, hungry socialites.
For a look at the lineage inherent at The Palm, one need look no further than Bruce Bozzi, Jr., great-grandson of co-founder Pio Bozzi and current face of the restaurant and its widespread outlets. Bozzi is married to talent agent Bryan Lourd, who, from 1991 to 1994, was married to silver screen icon Carrie Fisher. (Lourd and Fisher welcomed daughter Billie Lourd into their fold in 1992, herself an acclaimed television actress.) This is all just to say: The lines of celebrity run long and deep in The Palm’s veins.
The East Hampton edition of The Palm opened in 1980, the sixth restaurant of the same name to open. Its home was, and is, to this day, the 300-year-old Huntting Inn, a manicured white clapboard mansion set on a slip of green on East Hampton’s esteemed Main Street. Upstairs, guests will find small but finely appointed rooms, perfect for retiring to after one has had, say, the kind of steak that provokes somnolence.
About those steaks, though. The Palm’s menu is a love letter to meat, to be clear. Although some may gravitate toward the Atlantic salmon fillet, or the pepper-crusted ahi tuna, this is, after all, a temple dedicated to satiating carnivorous appetites. Beef is all prime, corn-fed, and aged for 35 days, and is seasoned with nothing but olive oil, kosher salt, and parsley butter. Sauces cost a few dollars extra, but are worth the expenditure. Diners can choose between the brandy peppercorn, lobster truffle butter, chimichurri, Oscar, and jumbo lump crabmeat hollandaise.
The list of available steak options reads like a meat lover’s bible: New York strip in 14- and 18- and 36-ounce iterations; a massive bone-in rib eye; a 9- and 12-ounce filet mignon; and a decadent Wagyu rib eye. Feeling beef-averse, but still counting on that iron? Perhaps a bone-in Colorado veal chop or a rack of double-cut lamb rib chops will fit the bill.
But one of the offerings of East Hampton’s long-running steak house is actually its happy hour, a secret shared widely among locals. Sundays through Fridays, from 5 to 7 PM, the restaurant offers discounted food and drink specials in the bar area, which becomes, particularly in the off-season, a lively space, filled with East Hampton’s after-work crowd. Oysters are reduced, during “prime time,” from $3 apiece to $2, which, for the Hamptons, feels like a pretty good deal.
The bar menu, too, is nothing to scoff at. While a $60 steak may feel unmanageable by most accounts, an $18 smokehouse burger — topped with applewood-smoked bacon, aged cheddar, baby arugula, and roasted garlic aioli — is less so. The thick-cut bacon is the king among appetizers. For a mere $16 (think of that as a quarter of a steak), the carnivorous can gorge on a full plate of thick, salty-sweet, maple-glazed bacon, so mighty it requires a fork and knife.
Of course, you wouldn’t want to leave The Palm without a slice of the seven-layer chocolate cake, served with a chocolate ganache. In accordance with New York City law, any restaurant with multiple outlets must list the calorie count on items served at multiple restaurants, which is how I know that a single slice is 1120 calories. To put that in perspective, that’s about how many calories the average person burns on an 11-mile run. To which I say: Better lace up now. Winter is coming.