One of my favorite experiences reading The New York Times is stumbling across a review of a North Fork restaurant. Whether it’s a food critic’s take on one of my favorite places to eat or a dining spot I’ve never tried, it’s always a welcome sight to see a local place critiqued in the section.
Unfortunately, the Paper of Record decided to stop covering the Long Island dining scene last year.
Last summer, I set out to see just how many restaurants in our coverage area — from Wading River to Orient, including a ferry ride to Shelter Island — The Gray Lady has visited over the years. It was a fascinating trip through local dining history.
Even having spent most of my years living nearby, some of the restaurants reviewed sounded foreign to me, and not just in the way the name of a restaurant like the former Aquebogue and Greenport eatery Hans’s Gasthaus (rated Good in 1994) rolls off the tongue. The former Île De Beauté in Greenport is another I had never tried or, quite frankly, heard of before.
Some of the others reviewed, like the former Seafood Barge in Southold, which the Times checked in with every so often to redeclare it the North Fork’s finest restaurant, are places I wished I’d tried.
Even the reviews of many of the eateries still standing show just how fluid the North Fork dining business is. The chefs, owners or even the locations of many existing places have changed. For example, Cutchogue’s Touch of Venice, which the Times dubbed an “unsung hero,” was still based in Mattituck when the paper reviewed it. Another, The Frisky Oyster, had a different owner and chef at the time it was visited, but the “Very Good” rating the critics gave it still rings true.
I was also surprised to see some of the area’s better restaurants to open in recent years — Caci North Fork in Southold leap to mind — had not yet been reviewed. I hope that means I’ll get to experience that surprising feeling of flipping open the broadsheet and finding a local review all over again sometime soon.
The following 20 North Fork and Shelter Island eateries all received a “Good” or better rating from the Times. Though some of the information in the reviews are outdated, these quality restaurants are all still places you should definitely try.
A version of this list was published in June 2016.