August 6, 2001 | Ask Gael
Doesn't anyone cook at home anymore?

        By the time you wake up, work out, digest the hebephrenic morning paper, moisturize, floss, recycle, and write your novel... who has time to cook? But that's not the only reason I've practically leased a table at the East Hampton Nick & Toni's. The crew meshes as if they've been doing this forever -- as some of them have. Am I imagining it? The food is better than ever. Rustic, savory, backed up by a chorus of fragrant smoke-tinged vegetables. No wonder chef Joseph Realnuto stops by the big wood-burning oven a few times a night just to beam. Portions are huge, too. My guy and I have shared the remarkable Caesar and the wood-roasted porchetta and been too full for dessert. Often two appetizers make my dinner: perhaps chopped salad and then quail, a fig-and-prosciutto-stuffed chubbette. Or esculent grilled octopus with yellow-finn potatoes and a small order of bacon-wrapped prawns on chick-pea-and-cucumber rubble, or even just a side of wood vegetables. A glass of Merlot. Lush lemon-pudding soufflé and four forks. It's peasant heaven, à la Marie Antoinette.

Nick & Toni's 136 North Main Street, East Hampton 631 324 3550