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The counter at the upcoming Luchacubano in Riverhead. (Courtesy Photo)

Let’s face it, 2021 may have been better than 2020, but taking the wide view, it was still pretty awful.

And 2022, well, let’s just say it’s not off to the best start.

But this is northforker, where we look to remain optimistic and always strive to take a hopeful view of things.

So when we put our heads together to think about the year ahead, we tried to remain focused on what’s on the horizon that gets us excited.

Here’s eight places, events or activities that have our staff excited to dive into 2022.

Shellabration returned to Greenport in 2021. And our reporter wants to make his first appearance in 2022. Credit: Jeremy Garretson

Eat, Papa, Eat!

For me, it’s all about the food. A good Cuban sandwich is basically a chef’s kiss for me, so I can’t wait for the opening of Luchacubano in Riverhead. I’m positively tantalized by the promise of Cuban-inspired fare, as well as an exclusive new beer brewed by the quirky folks at übergeek.

I’m also excited to experience Shellabration for the first time this year. I went to my first Maritime Festival in 2021 and got to witness the mermaid-filled spectacle, and this year I’m making it my job (literally) to spend Shellabration weekend savoring delicious locally sourced shellfish and seafood.

— Lee Meyer

Pizza options at Insatiable Eats in downtown RIverhead. (Credit: Tara Smith)

Take pride in your hometown

Totally biased here since I do live in Rivehead, but I choose dining downtown! There are a couple new additions to Main Street that I’m really looking forward to trying more, from Insatiable Eats to the new Lucha Cubano.

Exploring local history! Lee’s piece on Hallockville Museum Farm in the December magazine made me realize that there’s a wealth of local history that sometimes gets overlooked. Hallockville in particular is a place I drive by almost every day and probably haven’t been to since I was in elementary school on a field trip – but there are plentiful other options to learning about the area’s past further east, too.

— Tara Smith

The Mattituck location of Pookaberry Cafe will have a similar vibe to the original Filipino cafe. (Credit: Courtesy Jeanette Marco)

Food and fun the North Fork way

I can’t wait for Pookaberry Café to open up in Mattituck. Bright and fun pop art paired with authentic Filipino, Japanese and American food will be an exciting addition to our sweet, small town. Although the North Fork is known for its foodie scene, there is no hiding that it lacks diverse cultural cuisine, Pookaberry Café will be a welcomed answer to that.

Our family has been loving the Greenie’s Supply Treasure Maps and can’t wait to tackle a few more this year as they’re released. The hunt is always a fun and just a touch challenging, although my 4-year-old wouldn’t be able to solve the riddle on her own, she loves helping to break down the clues with us and especially loves digging when we get to the treasure location. It feels truly magical! 

— Michelina Da Fonte

Dockside diners at A Lure in Southold in 2019. (Credit: David Benthal)

Returning to old favorites

When sit-down dining returned in summer 2020, the first meal my wife and I has was on the back deck at A Lure in Southold. (And we also stopped by for a drink one night in 2021!) The North Fork is loaded with so many great spots to eat that it feels limiting to keep returning to the same spots. But for me, A Lure is just so quintessential North Fork, with its consistently good seafood, its great outdoor seating and good-vibe inducing cocktails. If you want added incentive to visit yourself, check them out on opening night (usually a Thursday in mid-March) for their annual prix fixe that costs whatever the year is. This time around it will be $20.22.

Speaking of old favorites, the one thing I haven’t done since the pandemic first hit, is spend a day at a winery. I’ve stopped by for work or to pick up bottles, but the thought of visiting an old familiar spot on a sunny summer afternoon, like Palmer or the newly reopened Peconic Bay Winery, is something that gets me truly excited.

— Grant Parpan