Restaurateur Michael Nolan looks back on his neighborhood legacy.
"They threw me the keys to the place at 12 and I felt like a badass,” recalls Fresno co-owner Michael Nolan of his early restaurant days helping out his dad, who ran the kitchen at J.G. Melon. Old habits die hard (or in this case grow stronger) as Nolan, along with business partner David Loewenberg, celebrates the 15th anniversary of their East Hampton culinary enclave.
A third-generation Sag Harbor resident, the sense of camaraderie and community stayed close to Nolan’s heart, and after hospitality training at Cornell and stints in Dallas, Boston and New York City, the Hamptons beckoned him home. From the onset, he and Loewenberg felt Fresno’s identity in their bones.“We wanted the food to be local, fresh, consistent and approachable—a good, honest meal,” says Nolan, proving why Fresno has maintained staying power as the caliber of East End restaurants continues to escalate.
Standby dishes such as local cod cazuela and whole-roasted local black sea bass with housemade peach sriracha and artichoke barigoule embody comfort on a plate—a sentiment that after all these years still rings true.
“Restaurant work is hard,” says Nolan. “We talk about it in funny ways, saying we’re ‘in the trenches,’ but we’ve gone through a lot together.” 8 Fresno Place, East Hampton, 631.324.8700, fresnorestaurant.com
Local Cod Cazuela
4 6-oz. cod fillets 1 1/2 cups of cooked white beans 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered 4 oz. pancetta, diced 2 cups of chicken stock Pinch of saffron Salt and pepper
Saute pancetta. Discard the fat and set pancetta aside. Saute mushrooms until tender. Set aside to cool. In a large ceramic cazuela (or any oven- proof pan) place the cooked white beans, pancetta and mushrooms. Add the chicken stock and saffron to mix. Season with salt and pepper. Season the cod fillets with salt and pepper and place them on top of the mix. Add a tablespoon of unsalted butter on top of each fillet. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes until the fillets are cooked.