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(Credit: David Benthal for northforker)

The slow food movement continues to be a force in this country — especially on the East End where local eateries pride themselves on using fresh ingredients grown in their backyards.

And this week, Slow Food East End has awarded three eateries — Mattituck’s Love Lane Kitchen, Shelter Island’s 18 Bay Restaurant and Sag Harbor’s Estia’s Little Kitchen — with its coveted “Snail of Approval” award for incorporating slow food values into their businesses.

The Snail of Approval award recognizes businesses that incorporate slow food ideals, which include using locally produced and sustainably raised and grown meat and produce. Restaurants with especially delicious offerings also have an edge in earning the distinction.

“When customers choose a restaurant that has been awarded the Snail of Approval, they know they are consuming quality food that is mostly local, sustainably raised and grown, and delicious,” reads a statement from Slow Food East End.

Love Lane Kitchen is committed to sourcing both fresh and seasonal ingredients from the surrounding area, according to Slow Food East End. Owner Carolyn Iannone and chef Corey Guastella incorporate as much locally avaialble food into their dishes as possible. Iannone estimates that about 90 percent of their weekly dinner menus can be considered farm-to-table.

“We’re super grateful to be part of this [Slow Food] program,” said Iannone. “It’s important and it means a lot to be recognized for what we do because it’s not always easy.”

Iannone added that she is also committed to serving her food at affordable prices and creating solid relationships with her customers, staff and food providers.

Husband and wife team of Adam Kopels and Elizabeth Ronzetti, chefs and owners of 18 Bay Restaurant, were also recognized for their commitment to the slow food philosophy.

“They are as passionate about how and where their food is grown and raised as they are about selecting the freshest, seasonal ingredients,” states a press release from Slow Food East End.

Their restaurant’s four-course, prix fix menu changes weekly and is directly inspired by Adam and Elizabeth’s daily visits to local markets, farms and food purveyors.

Estia’s Little Kitchen in Sag Harbor was an early adopter of the farm-to-table philosophy, embracing it more than 20 years ago, according to Slow Food East End. And chef Colin Ambrose’s healthy Mexican fare is a direct result of his close relationship with local farmers and food producers.

Previous recipients of the award include noah’s in Greenport, North Fork Table and Inn in Southold and Nick and Toni’s in East Hampton.

The mission of the East End Chapter of Slow Food is to educate and spread the word on the health, economic and environmental advantages of eating locally and seasonally. Their Snail of Approval program supports this mission.