North Fork: Nello’s Owner to Open New Restaurant in Greenport

Is Greenport, on the North Fork of Long Island becoming unbearably gentrified?  You draw your own conclusions.

But one sign of the times is the looming presence of a North Fork version of Nello, the Upper East Side boite that’s home to the rich and hoping-to-be-rich. The Greenport eatery is to be called Seaweed and will be located in the white clapboard house at 314 Main Street that once housed restaurant Ile de Beauté.

Proprietor Nello Balan already has a beachead on the East End. He currently oversees Nello Summertimes, in Southamption, best known for its sky-high prices and glitterati clientele.

North Fork, LI farm stand

North Fork, LI farmstand.

Why is this epicenter of glitz dining locating in what’s still a low-key North Fork seaport village surrounded by farmland and vineyards? After all, Nello prices seem way beyond the day trippers and families with kids in tow who still make up most of Greenport’s tourist trade. The eatery’s New York menu features a $60 veal chop, a tad steep in these recessionary times. And the NY Times in 2005 called the prices at the Southamption place “obscene.”

For the Hamptons set, Nello Summertimes seems like a great fit. But will it work for Greenport?

The planned North For eatery, will be “different” than his other establishments, Balan insisted in a phone interview, adding that he wanted a place that’s  “accessible” to Greenporters, both natives and visitors alike. That includes “the rich and not very rich,”  he said. The prices for dishes on the “Mediterranean with Long Island hints” menu will “compare with everybody around there” who operates a restaurant, he said.

Across the street from the new establishment, Balan will also be in charge of the cafe in the new upscale hotel that’s taking shape this summer. It’s also set to open in May 2010.

For all his posh dining credentials, Balan appears to be trying to ease into the mellow Greenport groove.

“I love Greenport,” he said. “It’s very unspoied.  People are nice. This part of Long Island is very special.” He’s even looking for a house in the area.

And the Hamptons?

“In Southampton they live like they live in the city,” he sniffed, already assuming that North Fork ‘tude toward the more upscale crowd to the south.

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