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Il Buco al Mare’s burrata with roasted beets

Il Buco al Mare’s tableware and accessories are as appetizing for the eyes as their sister restaurant’s divine dishes. (Photo credit: Doug Young; food styling by Grecia Medrano)

Abundantly bunched beets are an eye-catching site this time of year at local East End stands and farmers markets. With their hues of gold, red and orange and strong, hardy leaves (also edible), this early crop root vegetable beckons you to use them in a recipe. But sometimes, beets can seem slightly intimidating to prepare.

“Beets, like any other vegetable, are full of water,” explains executive chef Justin Smillie of the il Buco family of restaurants. “Using a method like salt-roasting will help to remove the extra water and concentrate the flavor.”

Brightly colored beets can be found on farm stands all across the South Fork. (Photo credit: Doug Young)

To complement the slow-roasted, skin-on beets — which creates an earthy, crunchiness and texture —Smillie’s recipe pairs them with luscious Lioni burrata (“best-eaten room temperature so you can get that buttery flavor from the inside,” says Smillie) and a complex pistachio pesto, accented with green yuzu kosho, a Japanese condiment Smillie describes as “the perfect marriage of citrus and chiles coming together.” 

Start by sourcing your beets from your local farmer, which is the mission statement for the menu at Amgansett’s il Buco al Mare.

“We source our beets and produce from both Balsam Farms and Amber Waves,” says chef de cuisine Grecia Medrano, who can attest to the popularity of this sophisticated recipe. “Our regular diners loved this dish so much, it’s now a small plates staple.”

Pair this with a crisp local rosé, like Wölffer’s 2022 Gold Label Estate Rosé and inspired tableware from il Buco Vita, and you have a great, impressive starter for a summer holiday weekend dinner.

Il Buco al Mare’s burrata with roasted beets

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Serves 4 servings


  • 2 balls Lioni Burrata (each ball in the 4 oz size)
  • 3 medium-sized beets, washed, ends trimmed
  • kosher salt

For the pesto:

  • 1/2 cup garlic confit
  • 1/4 cup ginger
  • 1 cup pistachios
  • 1 oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 2 handfuls fresh basil (approximately 4 oz)
  • 1 tbsp green yuzu kasha (found at most Asian specialty markets or online)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh lemon juice
  • chardonnay vinegar
  • salt to taste

For the garlic confit

  • 3 heads garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups grapeseed oil


For the beets:

  • Preheat over to 350°F. Pour kosher salt into a roasting pan in a thin layer. Place the beets on top of the salt, making sure they don't touch the bottom of the pan.
  • Roast for 1 hour. To test for doneness, use a cake tester or wooden skewer and poke into the center of the beet. If it doesn't give too much resistance it's ready (if not, cook for a few minutes longer). Remove beets from salt, drizzle with olive oil and put them back in the oven for 5 more minutes to get a shiny crust on the skin.

For the pesto:

  • Place the garlic confit and the ginger in a food processor. Pulse on high-speed to create a paste.
  • Add the pistachios, fresh basil and yuzu koshu. Pulse a couple of times to start breaking down the pesto.
  • Add the Parmigiano Reggiano and process together with the rest of the ingredients. Once the pistachios and the basil are finely chopped, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until it forms a smooth paste.
  • Taste for seasoning and adjust with chardonnay vinegar, lemon juice and salt.

For the garlic confit:

  • Preheat oven to 250°. Submerge 3 heads of garlic and 1/1/2 cups of grapeseed oil in a small ovenproof pan.
  • Cover and bake for about 2 hours. Let cool; transfer garlic and oil to an airtight container and chill. Best used immediately or within one week of refrigeration.

To serve:

  • Place a spoonful of pesto in a small serving bowl. Add the burrata and the beets.
  • Season with cracked black pepper and crunchy sea salt to taste, as well as a drizzle of good olive oil. For color, you can always add some chives or any fresh herbs you like.