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Restaurant Opens a New Chapter

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Page Restaurant managers Matt and Becky Kehoe, with Chef Humberto Guallpa.

Page Restaurant managers Matt and Becky Kehoe, with Chef Humberto Guallpa.

by Emily J. Weitz

Right in the heart of Main Street, Page has been feeling out its clientele since it opened last year. But with a new management team, complete with new chef and redesigned menu, it looks like they’ve hit a whole new stride.

Matthew and Rebecca Kehoe are a brother and sister team with roots on the East End and experience in the city. The third member of their team, Humberto Guallpa, is a chef born in Ecuador and educated in the kitchens of Manhattan.

“Becky and I work in tandem in the front of the house,” says Matthew, “and Humberto is the man behind the food. He is a young, accomplished, great chef.”

The Kehoes come from the food business, as their father owns a seafood distribution company on Long Island. Through many years of working in the business, they’ve gotten to know some major names in the restaurant industry. For example, it was Mario Batali who introduced Matthew to Humberto in the first place.

“[Batali] had worked with Humberto back in the day, before the fame and glory,” recalls Matthew, “and he told me [Guallpa] was a genius. He gave me his number, and Humberto and I started going to restaurants together, eating food, speaking about food, talking about ideas. We planned to do something together for some time.”

Page was introduced as an idea by a friend of Matthew’s who knew owner Gerry Wawyrk was looking to give the place a face lift. And while the wide open ambience and the inviting outdoor tables remain the same, the menu is a healthy balance of familiar and fresh.

“Our chef comes from Babbo and Aquavit and all these amazing New York restaurants,” says Matthew. “His wealth of knowledge is what makes it onto our menu. And I lived in North Sea as a kid, and knowing this part of the world and what people like to eat, it’s a combination of everyone expressing themselves.”

Because of the Kehoes’ familiarity with the place, they already have deep roots in the community.

“When I was 11 I worked for Tate King and North Sea Farms,” says Matthew, “so now we do business with them. My father supplies lots of local seafood, and we deal with Gosman’s. We get produce from Balsam and Satur Farms.”

Recently, he brought Humberto to North Sea Farms.

“I was out in the field,” says Humberto, “and I saw all these edible flowers. It’s really exciting to actually be out in the fields picking my own stuff.”

Humberto came to New York when he was 16 to start in the restaurant business. He went from line cook to chef de portis to head chef over the course of 16 years, and has worked with some of the most well-respected chefs in the business. He is used to cooking innovative cuisine, and considers some of what seems to fit into the palettes of the East End to be more “home cooking.”

“The food is simpler than the way I’m used to,” says Humberto. “But something like the seared tuna ceviche really keeps my style of cooking, technique wise. I thought really hard on that one. As well as the grilled Montauk fluke. It’s very simple, but all the flavors are together in one dish. That’s my favorite way.”

Another favorite of the new items on the menu, according to Humberto, is the tuna tartare.

“I’ve done that ten different ways,” he says, “but it always comes to be one of my favorites. Here it is avocado, olive oil, ginger, and pumpernickel crisp. Everything I do here in the restaurant. I never buy anything prepared.”

Along with the revamped menu, this new management team hopes to infuse the place with a whole new energy. They’ve gotten the pizza oven, previously unused, fired up again. They plan to make the most of their music license with lots of live music, adding to the weekly Sag Harbor music circuit with the Jam Session with Claes Brondal on Tuesdays. They’re opening the space up to karaoke and Bingo, and are receptive to new ideas to please their clientele.

“Food is fun,” says Matthew. “It’s creative. Restaurants are very creative. I find food and wine and restaurants very sexy.”

But this new management team is careful not to go too over the top with the flash and fancy. Local roots are important to them, and an understanding of the East End is key.

“An old Hollywood director said ‘I treat actors like stars and stars like actors’,” says Matthew. “That’s our vision. We want everyone to feel comfortable here.”