My friends and I had a house in West Hampton from ’92 to’98. We had some of the best times of our lives out there. And on a great number of nights, we were treated in a very special way because my last name was Falcone. It seems there was another Falcone out East who was “a man of respect.” He somehow controlled the supply of cheese to the restaurants… or so we later heard. And I was consistently mistaken for his son.
The Baby Moon in West Hampton was the “it” spot for Sunday night dining. The lot would fill with Mercedes and Ferraris, and people would wait on line for a good hour to eat before heading home. But we never waited a minute in seven years. Except our first night there, in ’92. That night, we waited our turn, and the hostess called the name “Falcone.” We walked to the hostesses station and arrived simultaneous with the owner (whose name I’ve regrettably forgotten). He seemed frantic. He yelled at the gal, grabbed the menus and approached us.
“Mr. Falcone, I’m _______. This is my place. I’m sorry you waited. I didn’t know you were here. When you come in, ask for me.”
“Ok. You know, I think we’re gonna’ be here every Sunday night.”
“Great. What time?”
“Like tonight, about 7.”
“OK. I’ll always keep a table for you. How many people?”
“Could be a bunch.”
“Ok. We’ll hold the round table in the back. It seats six to eight. And please, don’t tell your father about tonight. I really didn’t know you were here.”
“Fine. No problem.”
And that was the origin of the Sunday Night Roundtable so many of you were a part of. And the reason we walked right past all those wealthy folk waiting beside the tent, sitting on the railroad ties.
Later that summer, about 10 of us went to ‘Seasons’ in Remsenburg for dinner. Lou called in the reservation, and he used the name “Falcone”. When we arrived, the owner came out and asked to meet Mr. Falcone. I stepped forward and said hello. He walked us in and told me that he had his people set up a table on the platform the band usually played on, so we “didn’t have to eat with the regular people.” Then he told me that he didn’t know how many of us would want lobster, so he held 10 aside, just to be safe. Finally, he took me for a tour of his new kitchen, told me to tell my dad about it, and asked me to thank him again “for getting him that loan.”
On the 4th of July, ’94, my gal and I went out to East Hampton to see the fireworks. So did thousands and thousands of people. After the show, we were hungry, and we stopped in to Sappore di Mare. We knew that every restaurant would be mobbed, and that where ever we went, we would have to wait quite a while. And we had wanted to go to this place for years. So we went in, and approached the hostess. She acted haughty and tried to discourage us from staying. She explained that there would be a wait of well over an hour, and said that she didn’t know if she should add us to the list. I said to her that it was going to be an hour plus wait everywhere that night, that she should just take our name, and call us from the bar like everyone else. And so she relented and asked my name.
“Ok Mr. Fatone, you can…”
“Falcone,” I said louder. Hey, it was noisy in there. She probably couldn’t hear me.
“Yes Mr. Falzone you…”
Now I yelled. “No! Falcone!” Pretty much everyone heard that. She scribbled, and we walked away toward the bar.
As we did, I noticed a gentleman in a nice summer suit sprinting across the dining room floor toward the hostess. Then I saw them exchange words I couldn’t hear, and her point toward us. Then, he bounded toward us! He arrived in front of me, and extended his hand.
“Mr. Falcone, I’m Angelo, the manager. I didn’t know you were coming. I would have held a table for you. No one called.”
“It was spur of the moment, after the fireworks” I said.
“Oh, I understand. But still, you shouldn’t have to wait. Come with me.”
He walked us across the dining room, and out onto a porch, to the stares of many of the diners.
“The porch is closed tonight, Mr. Falcone, but I think you will be comfortable here. Please give me a moment to set up a table.”
The porch was lovely. There was a babbling brook, pretty lanterns, soft music. And Angelo set a beautiful table with candles.
“I’m sure you’re hungry, Mr. Falcone. I’ll send out an appetizer tray right now.” And so he did.
No one else was seated on the porch that night, at least not while we were there. Liqueurs we did not order were brought out with our coffee. When I got the bill, the appetizer tray was not included on it. Neither was my Pinot Noir, nor those liqueurs.
There were other incidents like this. Lines skipped. Free food. Bottles sent to the table. I was always worried that one night the real Falcone would be where we were, and there would be trouble. But that never happened.