Restaurant Review: Calissa by Christy Stone & Alison Hernon
Restaurant Review: Calissa
Calissa, a beautiful restaurant tucked away in Watermill, right off Montauk Highway, in the Hamptons. This upscale restaurant has a Greek/Meditteranean focus and style. The ambiance is naturally soothing with the wood floors and rattan throughout. There is a farm to table approach to food. The service was very knowledgeable and so kind to offer suggestions. We begin the meal with a glass of organic Rosé. The wine selection consists of wines using locally grown grapes with many organic options to choose from. A glass of Rosé is a must have when you go to Calissa. The perfect Summer wine to go with the seasonal fare.
We started with an appetizer of local bread, tomato jam, and burata cheese. The bread was perfectly grilled and the dish overall was exceptionally flavorful, it just melted in your mouth. Next, we tried Calissa's take on a traditional Greek salad, "The Greek Village Salad.' The salad was so fresh and tasteful, and paired nicely with the Rosé.
For the entree, we had "Roasted Cascun Farms Chicken." The chicken was delicious with an incredible bomba calabrese. However, the highlight of the dish was the perfectly seasoned and crispy potatoes. To finish the meal we had house-made peach sorbet, with chunks of peaches in it. Of course it was fresh since the peaches are grown locally just down the street! Everything at Calissa was wonderfully fresh and local.
Visit Calissa: https://www.calissahamptons.com
Review by Alison Hernon, Fashion Director, Jejune Magazine &
Christy Stone, Contributing Editor, Jejune Magazine
1. Restaurant Name, and Date Opened?
Calissa, opened in Spring 2017.
2. How did Calissa decide to create such a healthy restaurant?
Sustainability and seasonality was at the forefront of our mind when we first sourced our vendors and the majority of our recipes are rooted in traditional Greek/Mediterranean practices (especially southern/island cooking). By default and as a result of these factors the menu can be defined as healthy.
We were inspired by restaurants like Kiki’s in Mykonos where an array of rotating salad/mezze options are presented and all proteins are simply grilled with some local olive oil and oregano (in our case, Montauk-caught bass, pasture raised chicken from upstate NY and heritage-breed Duroc pork chops, among others).
3. Have you seen the demand for this type of eating really grow over the years? Do you see a growing trend?
Absolutely. It’s really a return to a simpler way of living and eating, where you are celebrating the bounty of what’s available in the market. We’re lucky to operate here - our hyper-local peaches are grown just down the street at Milk Pail and are the best you’ll ever taste!
4. What is the most important ethos behind your food? Cooking techniques, quality of the food, etc. (The taste was great, always an added bonus to eating healthy.)
Simplicity - both in cooking and on the plate. Our food is elegant, but it’s not fussy or overly-complicated. We do source flavors from other parts of the Mediterranean though - for example the dakos salad served with our chicken is seasoned with the North African spice Sumac, which is a nod to the traditional Lebanese salad, Fattoush.
5. Do you find it difficult to source everything organically?
While not everything is organic we do work with a number of farmers who are practicing organic. Don Cascun who supplies us chicken (and pork, lamb and beef for specials and private events) is antibiotic and hormone free and practicing organic. The costs are simply too high to certify for many family run farmers.
A large portion of our wine list is biodynamic/organic (or practicing organic) and sulfite free. There’s growing interest in wine regions around the world in these types of farming practices and it absolutely improves the taste of the wine (plus no hangover!)
6. Do you work with specific local farms or any hydroponic greenhouses?
Yes - a selection of farms we have strong relationships are below question 8.
7.Is there anything else we should know about the business that is environmentally or socially conscious?
Are the buildings LEEDS certified, are you a B-Corp? The use of advanced energy saving technology? Contribute to non-profits in any way or support the local community?
We are Slow Food certified, a B-Corp, and a recipient of REAL and Clean Plates NY.
8. Do you live a healthy lifestyle, practice what they preach? It seems passion for health can drive success when dealing with healthy locally owned restaurants. Is there more to the family background in regards to health and food? Any nutritionists, etc?
Yes! Our team is known to embark on group activities such as The Class by Taryn Toomey and tennis at Tanya’s house (luckily no one was injured).
Local Farms that Calissa works with:
1. Painted Hills Natural Beef: Based in Wheeler County, Oregon. 7 different cattle farmers pretty much make up the entire town. Together they operate under regulations that were established over 20 years ago. Their products are 100% hormone and antibiotic free. They are raised on corn, barely, and alfalfa. They are "grain finished."
2. Cascun Farms: Located in Greene, New York. They supply us with all of our chickens and pork belly. Sometimes we also receive rabbits, quail, and duck. The farm is completely antibiotic and hormone free. All animals are raised free-range and slaughtered responsibly. Slow food certified Snail of Approval.
3. End's Meat Charcuterie: Owned by John Ratliff, a friend of Chef's from his days at A Voce. John supplies us with all of our Salumis and Sausages. They use responsibly raised Berkshire Pigs from Roaming Acres Farm in New Jersey and the salumi is made in Brooklyn.
4. Battenkill Creamery: Based in Salem, NY. Deemed the Highest Quality MIlk in NY State for the last 3 years. They started bottling and producing milk in 2008, and they have since become the go-to producer for the best New York dairy.
5. The Greenhouse Affect: A Northfork, Long Island herb and potted-fruit/vegetable producer. Many of our micro-greens and herbs are now grown specifically for us, when we ask for it. They grow over ten different varieties of basil, thyme, oregano, and many others.
6. J. Glebocki Farms: Based in Orange County, NY where farmers refer to the area as the black dirt region. The soil is extremely fertile because it once served as the bottom to an ancient glacial lake. It is considered the richest soil in the United States outside of the Everglades. They supplies us with a wide variety of produce. Currently we get summer squash and corn from this farm.
7. Norwich Meadows Farm: They have two farms: one Norwich, NY and one in New Jersey. The farm is completely ran and maintained by one family. Their produce is fertilized with only natural fertilizers such as fish and kelp. They are 100% certified Organic. We just recently received three different varieties of raspberries, beans/legumes, fairytale eggplant, and okra from this farm.
8. Radicle Farms: Hosted James Beard Sustainable Seafood Dinner for our work with Sustainable Fisheries and products like Dorade, Organically farmed Branzino and Salmon. We have visited the Hunts Point Fish Market to verify our supply chain and also use Sea to Table.
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