Italian-American food is easy to locate in New York, but old-world authenticity is a rare find on the East End. While pizza and pasta are the stars of the menu at Grana Trattoria Antica in Jamesport, it is the cuisine and culinary techniques inspired by the travels of owners David and Nancy Plath that steal the show. Having visited Italy countless times, from the northern regions of Bergamo and Piedmont to Rome and further south to Naples, the pair are bringing recreations of what they’ve tasted and learned to the North Fork.
“We go on a quest for each region,” Mrs. Plath shares of their journeys. “In Bergamo, we found Casoncelli alla Bergamo. Every restaurant in this town has it. We put it on the special menu at Grana and now we can’t take it off because people love it.”
The sweet and savory ravioli of roasted meats is one of many homemade, regional pasta dishes served at the restaurant, alongside porcini mushroom pasta from Tuscany, and Bolognese from Bologna. Another popular dish at the restaurant, and among the Italian population, is Cacio e Pepe. Having seen one of Anthony Bourdain’s shows in which he visits a restaurant in Rome well known for its version of the spaghetti with Roman Pecorino and cracked pepper, the Plaths decided to travel to that same establishment for an experience of their own. This is part of the methodology behind much of Grana Trattoria Antica’s menu; research, explore, and take something delicious back with you.
“When we go over to Italy, he researches everything,” Mrs. Plath says of her husband, adding they will return to Italy again before the end of the year. “We did the whole Piedmont region, and found this beef that is like heaven. You can’t get this beef anywhere.”
It turns out with more research, the Plaths found a boutique farm in Nebraska that had the same beef as in Piedmont, which is now one of the favorite meat dishes served at the restaurant. They take pride in offering dishes with ingredients that are thoughtfully researched and purveyed, allowing them to treat North Fork diners to old world Italian fare.
At Grana Trattoria Antica, the pasta is made fresh daily using organic flours, handmade mozzarella is made with curd free of additives, and even the tomatoes are hand-picked fresh from purveyors by Mr. Plath. The result is delicious Italian food in an inviting atmosphere reminiscent of what you may find throughout Italy.
New to the menu will be a vegan, organic wine discovered at a vineyard along the Adriatic Sea. Working with their wine rep, the Plaths got an FDA approved label that will allow them to import and serve the wine this November. Their son, David Plath, Jr., has recently finished culinary school in Florence, and will offer new recipes on the special menu throughout the fall.
Whether you enjoy the simple yet never-failing Margherita pizza, heart-warming beef cheek with polenta, or a number of regional pastas and Grana originals, the Plaths are eager to continue their tradition of allowing guests to discover Italy through food and wine right on the North Fork.