Each summer we put together a list of the restaurants that opened in the past year on the North Fork.
For the first time in at least three years, we actually saw a dip in the number of eateries that opened their doors. In 2016, we counted about 15 new spots and the number grew to more than 20 a year ago. This year the number is closer to 10.
Though there are several more we know of currently in the pipeline, it does appear the North Fork restaurant boom could be leveling out some. I suppose the idea of having 20 new places come in a year is not sustainable.
I was thinking of this recently while having a conversation about how the types of restaurants you can find on the North Fork hasn’t changed that much in the past few years despite all the new places. That’s not necessarily true if you go back 10 or certainly 20 years, but since, say, 2016, there isn’t much of a change in the types of places serving food, even if there are more than 30 new places for us to try.
This isn’t really a bad thing. There are more types of places to get a sandwich, a burger or a taco, and I think most of us like to eat all those things. A little variety doesn’t hurt.
But I do wonder if the North Fork has the potential to offer more new things or to even still elevate some of the types of food it has a lot of.
For me, one of the biggest game changers in the past handful of years has been from a place like Caci, which takes Italian eating to new heights. (I regrettably have not yet gotten to Il Giardino, but I’ve heard it does the same.) But in an area that already features places like aMano and Touch of Venice, I’m not sure how much these new spots have actually changed how people eat here.
We’ve also seen a handful of wood-fired pizza spots pop up in recent years and places like 1943 Pizza Bar and Grana are among the best spots to get pizza on the North Fork. Pizza, however, is still a type of food I think we could see the bar raised on out here. When I think of the more stereotypical Long Island pizzeria, Western Suffolk still have us beat. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed many slices out here, but a Coloseo or a Branchinelli’s, we just don’t have that here.
Ethnic cuisine is definitely an area we could improve on. Riverhead is crushing the Mediterranean game with neighboring powerhouses Turkuaz Grill and Mazi, but a restaurant serving Indian, for example, is non-existent in these parts.
I don’t pretend to be an expert on the business of restaurants, and what the market demands, but I do know what I like and what I see happening in other areas.
What I’d love to see here as the number of new eateries perhaps begins to plateau, would be to see a few more niche places develop.
I’d love to hear from some of our readers about what they’d most like to see come to the North Fork.
Just please don’t tell me Cracker Barrel this time around and you’re getting a new IHOP in Riverhead (or is it IHOB?).
• Speaking of local restaurants, do you ever wonder about where the local chefs eat? Contributing writer Beth Ann Mayer asked a few of them.
• The New York Times loves the North Fork so much it had to attach an (and beyond) disclaimer to its recent 36 hours piece on Greenport. Who can blame them? See which places they shouted out, if you haven’t already.
• The Gray Lady isn’t the only regional media outlet to shine a spotlight on the North Fork this July. The New York Post had a piece on a horse farm for sale, Long Island Press published an overview of the area with some recommendations and Peconic Escargot got a shout in Indiana’s Journal Gazette.
• Our August issue hits newsstands next week and I’m excited for everyone to read it. It feels so fun and summery it makes me want to cry thinking that August means summer is almost over. Pick up a copy for pieces on flowers, camping, sailmakers, and summertime eats and drinks.
• We’ll be at Tanger Outlets again August 5 and this time we’re bringing the beach along with us.
Grant Parpan is the content director for Times Review Media Group, overseeing a number of things, including content planning for northforker.com and magazine, the posts and videos we create for advertisers, and the company’s digital platforms. Have an idea for a story? Email him at email@example.com.