Surfer and restaurateur Jamo Willis and chef Roy Wohlars team up to open Harbor, Montauk's latest beachfront hot spot.
The arrival of Harbor, a coastal-chic restaurant, opens another chapter in the Montauk dining scene. The brainchild of surfer-turned-nightlife luminary James “Jamo” Willis, bathed in turquoise and decorated with palm leaves and all things minimalistic, Harbor serves up a delicious Mediterranean-inspired menu. Customers can dine and play at the bistro, where beachside amusements include bocce, table tennis, and movie screenings. The unpretentious, energetic scene (’80s and ’90s rock ’n’ roll and hip-hop playlists) creates a cool, laid-back ambience that seems imported directly from Willis’s native Australia, and the relaxing Down Under vibe is attracting flocks of visitors and locals alike.
“Every week it just keeps getting bigger and bigger,” says Willis. “The reservations are just out of the books, and people seem to be having a good time.” He used his Aussie roots to craft the menu, which features a revolving variety of local and seasonal ingredients, wood-fired pizzas, pastas, and, of course, seafood dishes in line with the restaurant’s waterfront locale. The Australian influence reveals itself in “the way we cook the seafood, the way we present it, the way it’s fresh and light,” says Willis, who calls his chef, Roy Wohlars, “a magician.”
Popular dishes include seared yellowfin tuna with za’atar (thyme), wheat berry, and cucumber, and the calamari (“Roy has done an amazing job on the calamari: very soft, not chewy—he has a secret batter recipe,” says Willis), as well as a Greek-style kale salad. “I wanted a Greek salad and Roy wanted to use kale,” says the restaurateur, “so we put it together, and it has been really, really popular.”
The attention to detail extends to the drink list, which includes an array of tropical standouts, including the Pink Flamingo martini with watermelon liqueur, fresh watermelon, and lemon and pineapple juices, and the Toaster Dog, named after Willis’ canine companion. It’s made with Bull Dog gin, the Greek liqueur mastika, ginger beer, and grapefruit and lime juices.
Plus, there’s the just-next-door Booby Trap MTK, a to-go stand that keeps very late-night hours and serves Greek-fusion fare made in-house by Harbor— think press-style Greek sandwiches, chicken skewers, burgers, fresh smoothies, and its own brand of coffee. The surfboard décor and fun feel (oldschool surf and skating videos playing) maintain the merry mood that Harbor hopes to impart. 440 W. Lake Dr., Montauk, 668-8260