Tucked off Montauk Highway is a Mediterranean oasis. White-washed walls curve into the bench-style seating tucked under light wood tables. Soft hanging lights dampened by straw coverings and candles illuminate the space. Pastels and rich jewel-toned pillows and cushions cover the seats. This is Calissa, a Greek-style restaurant in Water Mill inspired by Mykonos, and this year is its first open year-round.
“Based on the successes of being a popping, really busy summer spot, that just translated to turning this into a year-round spot,” said manager Dara Abrams.
Managing partner James Mallios brought in Abrams as the manager and her husband Bob as the chef to translate Calissa into a place that could be successful throughout winter.
“They hired us to help them transition to a more year-round clientele bringing in locals, bringing in local parties, local organizations,” she said.
Gracing the menu is a slew of specials. There’s a $29 three-course prix fixe happening all year, a burger and beer special for $15 on Wednesday, dollar oysters on Thursday and a gyro special on Friday.
“Every meal in Greece is a celebration. It’s meant to bring people together,” Dara said.
And Calissa is hoping to bring more locals together through their locals card, given out to East End residents who dine there in winter. Show the card at any subsequent meals and receive 15 percent off.
“It shows our loyalty to you,” she said. “It’s to show that you took the time to spend time with us in the winter. We’re going to remember you in the summer.”
Some popular items on the menu include calamari made with rice flour, lobster bucatini and sharable dips.
The kafteri is a blend of Calabrian chiles and feta and xinotiro cheese. It’s smoky and bright, and served with plenty of warm pita. The crispy Brussels sprouts don’t disappoint, lying on a bed of cauliflower cream and cheese you could bathe in. The shrimp scampi is fresh and light, familiar yet also unexpected. The lamb burger is hearty and tender, and the fries that are served alongside are spiderwebbed with cheese and fried olives.
Every meal at Calissa ends with a complimentary baklava, a traditional Mediterranean dessert made with phyllo dough, honey and walnuts.
“The food is made with love,” Dara said. “I don’t think there are a lot of Mediterranean restaurants that are like this out here, where locals from the North Fork and the South Fork feel like they can come get good value, get good food and have a great time.”
Calissa is located at 1020 Montauk Highway in Water Mill, calissahamptons.com, 631-500-9292.