With stunning views of the Peconic Bay as its backdrop, Waypoint Restaurant has reopened for its second season with a refined, seafood forward menu in Southold.
The 120-seat restaurant, which opened in 2018 at the former Pepi’s, is back with a new executive chef whose focus is on a smaller, locally sourced selection. Anthony Rando took over the kitchen at Waypoint in May, bringing more than 40 years of restaurant experience to the table.
The dinner menu is scaled back, featuring eight mainstays, including prime-aged steaks, lobster ravioli and fresh-caught fish. There are also nightly specials, depending on what’s available from Braun Seafood market in Cutchogue and at farm stands. Rando also expanded the lunch offerings, which include PEI mussels, avocado shrimp toast and fish and chips.
“Everyday, I start with what’s fresh and local,” he said. “We wanted to keep it refined so the food is always fresh and never sitting around the kitchen.”
The Shelter Island resident has previously worked at Claudio’s in Greenport, the now-defunct Sweet Tomato’s on Shelter Island and at Greenport’s Halyard. Rando, who has also served as executive chef at country clubs on Long Island, credits Halyard chef Stephan Bogardus and other young North Fork chefs he’s shared the kitchen with for renewing his passion for getting creative with using local ingredients on the menu.
“They brought the passion out of me,” he said. “They really care about food. It rubbed off on me and got me excited.”
Rando takes over for former executive chef Yvonne Marie Buonaiuto. A first-generation Sicilian-America, Buonaiuto’s menu at Waypoint centered on farm-to-table fare with Sicilian influences.
Buonaiuto ran the restaurant with her husband, veteran restaurateur Andre Buonaiuto, who unexpectedly passed away in January. His cousin and business partner Jimmy Orioli has now taken over the day-to-day operations along with his son. A North Fork resident, Orioli, who also owns At Your Services Party Rentals in Mattituck, said he hopes to continue their shared vision of making Waypoint a destination for waterfront dining on the East End.
“Andre was the life of the party,” Orioli said. “He was like a game show host, welcoming and vibrant. We were looking to bring white tablecloth dining to the waterfront — a place where you can hang out, but get something more upscale than a regular hot dog or a fried shrimp basket. We loved that people can come in flip flops by boat or at night for fine dining.”
In addition to the revamped menu, Waypoint has added more outside seating and fire pits overlooking the Bay. Guests are welcomed dine outside or enjoy cocktails, local wine and craft beers on the water-facing Adirondack chairs. There are also dock slips available for hungry boaters. Reservations are not necessary unless you want to be guaranteed a spot and one of the staff members can assist in tying up.
“Quality and service are number one,” Orioli said.
Waypoint, located at 400 Old Main Road, is open seasonally Sunday through Thursday from noon to 10 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 11 p.m. Closed Monday.