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(Credit: Tara Smith)

We talk a lot about hidden gems here at northforker and Kenny’s on the Green, which opened last fall at the county-owned Indian Island golf course, is a bit tucked away off the well-traveled Route 105.

It’s also a gem, we’re happy to report.

This welcoming, New American restaurant opened in September with a team that includes owner Kenny Sawler, chef Jim Liszanckie and manager Claudia Canino. 

Liszanckie, a Greenport native, has been working in kitchens since he was 14 years old, starting at the Shelter Island Yacht Club washing dishes. After his popular Riverhead diner, Sunny’s, closed during the pandemic, Liszanckie met Canino and Sawler and, as Canino put it, “it was love at first sight.”

Canino started off bussing at the former Tide Runners in Hampton Bays years ago and worked at the golf course’s previous restaurant, Outerbanks, for several years before it also closed during the pandemic. 

Sawler, who grew up in Riverhead, is an electrical contractor. He won the lease on the county-owned building earlier in 2021 and enlisted the help of Liszanckie and Canino.

“I knew I’d own a bar somewhere,” said Sawler, who hasn’t quit his day job quite yet. “I’ve always had a passion for this.”

Claudia Canino and Jim Liszanckie of Kenny’s on the Green (Credit: Tara Smith)

Liszanckie said the menu, which includes a range of items from burgers to a charcuterie board and steaks, is designed to be eclectic and offer something for everyone. 

“We’re trying to take everything people like and make it a little better,” said Liszanckie. “Instead of getting a cheap-choice New York strip, we’re getting a top third choice steak from Allen Brothers.”

Other menu options include a New Orleans-style gumbo and even a delicious Thanksgiving sandwich.

The ambience complements the comfort food. The bar area has a shuffleboard, jukebox and televisions with a view of both the golf course and the water.

“The atmosphere is fantastic,” said Liszanckie. “So you have this blend of good food and good times happening. It’s just been a really good start for us.”

The menu is also constantly evolving with a specific eye to dietary needs.

“It’s all thought out,” Liszanckie said. “There’s a gluten free and vegetarian dish. If you have a meat allergy, we’ll take care of you. Celiac? We’ll make sure every pan and cutting board we use keeps you safe.”

Sawler is looking forward to the summer season, where he plans to focus on seafood.

“That’ll be my push,” he said. “I want to offer oysters, seafood towers … The whole goal is pub food, family style, just one notch better than the rest.”

Kenny’s on the Green (661 Riverside Drive, Riverhead) is open all week for lunch, and also offers breakfast, lunch and dinner Friday through Sunday. Check them out on Facebook.