We’re counting down the top coolest stories of 2015 on northforker.com. We will publish one story on our list per day, every day, until Jan. 1.
Coming in at number 6 is the opening of PeraBell Food Bar, Mazi and Sonoma Grill East in downtown Riverhead.
Downtown Riverhead saw an infusion of new life with the opening of not one, but three restaurants in 2015.
Two of those eateries, PeraBell Food Bar East and Sonoma Grill East were extensions of successful restaurants already established on Long Island.
The third, Mazi, was the new incarnation of a beloved downtown eatery.
In June, partners John Peragine and Scott Campbell opened PeraBell Food Bar East, (the moniker being a portmanteau of both their names).
The Riverhead restaurant is an extension of their flagship eatery in Patchogue.
Sonoma Grill East opened in late August in the former East Main Street bank building, that recently housed the Riverhead Project.
Offering a varied menu that includes pizza, pastas, sandwiches and burgers, it soon became clear that the star attraction was their brunch menu, which offers dishes like cookies and cream pancakes and Nutella crepes
And September saw the triumphant return of restaurateur John Mantzopoulos, who’s restaurant Athens Grill was destroyed by a fire in 2013.
Mantzopoulos opened Mazi restaurant in the same space where Athens Grill used to be and soon welcomed back old customers and many new ones.
The restaurant veered away from serving just Greek food, choosing instead to offer a varied menu of Mediterranean dishes, with some Greek specialties.
On its opening night Mazi was packed with old friends, former customers and many well wishers happy to see Mantzopoulos back in business.
“It feels great,” Mantzopoulos told us. “It feels like I woke up from a nightmare. Everybody that was here before is here, including some of my staff, now I’m back to cooking.”