By Annette Hinkle
There’s a new restaurant in Sag Harbor and diners might be surprised to find it occupying a familiar spot. Page at 63 Main is housed in the brick building where Blue Sky formerly operated, and before that, Spinnakers. But this new incarnation bears little resemblance to what came before, and Page at 63 Main has quietly opened to early positive buzz by offering a menu full of exotic flavors and local ingredients— and it even includes dishes vegetarians will love.
The sign for the restaurant arrived just last week, and while there is white table cloth dining in the main space, in the back of the building, Page at 63 Main will offer a market complete with juice bar and casual café selling pre-packaged menu items. That portion of the business is scheduled to open this week.
“This has been my plan — to take this restaurant to this level,” notes Gerry Wawyrk, owner of Page at 63 Main. “I’ve always thought about doing the market in the far back. Then we came up with the concept of natural, local, healthy and organic — and are just combining all those ingredients. Then I just had to find someone compatible who I could live with and could live with me.”
That someone is chef Jessie Flores — the man behind the food, who for nearly 10 years worked as a sous chef at the recently closed Della Femina restaurant in East Hampton. For Flores, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, stepping into the kitchen at Page at 63 Main has given him the opportunity and freedom to create a menu all his own.
“When I was approached they asked me, ‘What kind of food would you cook if you had your own restaurant?’” recalls Flores. “I said Hamptons comfort — but using all my local farmers, my local fishermen and everything organic as much as I can. I should be a part of the community – and serve simple food, but done well, and not hide it with sauces.”
When asked about his culinary style, Flores responds, “It’s a little bit of everything. I have a Spanish background, but I love Asian food and I was trained in French cooking. I’m not trying to set a new category, but it’s just the way I cook.”
As an example, Flores notes that he makes ravioli but, loves chorizo, so it’s not unreasonable to expect to see the two ingredients used in combination. Everything the restaurant serves, he notes, is made from scratch including the fresh pasta, his own red wine sauce, and even the breads. To accommodate vegans, Flores also has recipes like soba noodles with a medley of complex flavors.
“It’s well thought out,” he says. “It’s not just spinach and green beans, it also has local carrots, sexy mushrooms of a higher quality and chestnuts.”
When asked what his signature dish is, Flores points to the steamed bun appetizer on the menu — a variation on the Chinese staple, which is currently all the rage in Manhattan.
“I use shitake mushrooms — it’s also vegan – and I make it myself with green curry and soy glaze,” he says. “I think it’s become my signature dish. When I first made it, in the back of my head I thought, ‘This is awesome.’”
As far as a signature entrée, Flores has found that diners love his seared monk fish steak with chanterelle and oyster mushrooms, a bit of miso paste, white wine and a bit of butter.
“It’s a one pan dish, but very tasty,” says Flores who has just come up with a new dish that will be hitting the menu soon — a base of hijiki seaweed mixed with black and red quinoa —a healthy variation on cole slaw — served with seared tuna or scallops on top.
“This weekend I’m going to pair it with some soft shell crabs,” notes Flores. “For lunch it’s flavorful, delicious and fresh.”
Carnivores need not worry, however, Page at 63 Main still has plenty for them — including hangar steak and pork belly.
“There’s something for everyone in this restaurant,” promises Flores. “Including the steak and potatoes guy who wants onion rings and garlic mashed potatoes.”
Diners on the go will appreciate the market and café which not only offer freshly made juices, but pre-packaged items like wraps and salads. The café will also serve a light breakfast like eggs and pastries. There will also be a small green grocer component stocked with fresh produce grown by local farmers. Though the idea is good food to go, café tables will be provided for those who want to linger a bit longer.
“It will be made fresh every day, prepackaged so you can grab it from the cooler,” says Flores. “Eventually once we’d like to offer organic chips, wraps, juices, pastries and little sweets and a ‘picnic to go,’ an eco-friendly picnic sack with our label on it. We’ll set you up for a party of two or three, fill it for you. You buy it and bring it back every time you want to do a picnic.”
For Jared Wawyrk who manages the front of the house, Page at 63 Main is a welcome evolution of his family’s business. Jared is Gerry’s son and a recent graduate of Arizona State University. The name of the business comes from Jared’s mother (and Gerry’s wife), Susan, whose maiden name was Page and is descended from an old Sag Harbor whaling family. He feels he has come back to his hometown to be a part of taking the business to a new level — one that embraces natural and organic ingredients.
“You have to realize it’s the trend in food these days,” notes Jared. “I’m happy about it. I just see that the food is creative and it has to stay innovative. We want to stay sustainable along with the East End. I feel there’s room for our type of food in Sag Harbor. I’m really glad I can be part of this and offer quality service to match what’s in the kitchen.”
Page at 63 Main is open for lunch and dinner beginning at 11:30 a.m. The market will open at 8 a.m., and serve breakfast until 11 a.m. Sandwiches and juices will continue to be offered until closing at 5 p.m. 725-1810.