When it comes to finding out about the best anything on the North Fork, always ask an expert. For real insider intel, especially on where to eat, chef Ned Baldwin is a great guy to turn to.
Baldwin, the chef and owner of Houseman restaurant in New York City and the co-author of the cookbook “How to Dress an Egg: Surprising and Simple Ways to Cook Dinner,” has a home in Orient. He and his wife, Jordana, and their teenage kids, Hazel and Irv, spend much of the year out here when they’re not at their place in NYC.
A Seattle native and avid fisherman, Baldwin first visited the area in 2002 and bought a house here two years later.
“The North Fork reminds me of the San Juan Islands, where I spent a lot of time growing up, and I fell in love with the authentic hometown feel of the place,” he said.
Many of the recipes in his book and at his restaurant are inspired by meals he cooks at home in Orient. These are Ned’s favorite North Fork things, as told to Gina Way.
Favorite Southold lunch spots
On the way to Orient from NYC, there are two places I love to stop. The Rotisserie and Smokehouse (Southold Square at Route 48) has killer barbecue sandwiches, but I always get the tongue torta with extra pickled jalapenos. La Cascada Restaurante across the street makes homemade pupusas that are outta sight.
Favorite ice cream
Magic Fountain in Mattituck (9825 Main Road) is iconic, with an authentic, old-timey ’60’s feel. They also have delicious homemade ice creams and make special flavors that change all the time. When they have the goat cheese ice cream, get a quart and bring it home. Drizzle on some good olive oil and sprinkle sea salt on top — perfection.
Favorite tackle shop
Every North Fork fishing trip starts with a visit to Wego Fishing Bait & Tackle (64355 Main Road, Southold) and a chat with the proprietor, Steve. He’s the go-to for both commercial and recreational fishermen, and can guide you to anything from bait to the best beach to catch porgies. If fish are biting somewhere, Steve knows about it — and if you’re lucky he might even tell you where it is.
Favorite Greenport nosh
I love Bruce & Son (208 Main St.) for breakfast or lunch. (They’re not open for dinner.) Great hotcakes, a superior egg sandwich and a delicious BLT with local tomatoes.
Macari Vineyards (150 Bergen Ave.) in Mattituck is a biodynamic farm, and the best all-around North Fork winery in my opinion. Their sparkling pét-nat made from cabernet franc grapes is called “Horses,” and it is excellent.
There’s plenty of oyster farming on the North Fork and I usually buy a bag and shuck them myself. My two favorites are Peconic Gold, farmed by Matt Ketcham, and the oysters from Oyster Pond Shellfish Company, which you can buy at Latham’s farm stand.
Favorite farm stands
Every local stops by Latham’s in Orient (20055 Main Road) for fresh produce from watermelons to chard, and especially their sweet local corn. The nearby Latham family farm has been passed down for generations and the principal farmer, Danny Latham, is a good friend. Another favorite is KK’s (59945 Main Road in Southold). It’s a biodynamic farm, and in season, their tomatoes are unreal. I always buy their mixed baby lettuces — so tender and sweet.
Favorite weekend breakfast
My family loves to take the ferry over to Marie Eiffel Market (184 North Ferry Road) on Shelter Island. You order food inside, and there are tables out on the dock overlooking Dering Harbor. It’s as picturesque as you can imagine. Shelter is a fun island to bike around if you don’t mind a lot of hills, and you can stop for lunch at the Sunset Beach Hotel and Restaurant (35 Shore Road) — a cool spot with a private beach.
Favorite local pizza
We often get dinner (or take out) at 1943 Pizza Bar (308D Main St. in Greenport). It’s pretty damn good pizza, even by NYC standards. If you have to wait for a table, order a classic cocktail at their sister place, Brix & Rye, next door.
Favorite night out
If I’d had a day of fishing, the last thing I want to do is eat fish. I definitely want a burger and a martini. My splurge is Duryea’s Orient Point (40200 Main Road) for an awesome burger and a cocktail. Duryea’s in Montauk opened this NoFo outpost last summer. They transformed a rusty old local fish joint (that I kind of loved) and turned it into Ibiza. People even come over by boat and park at their marina. It’s fabulous.
Favorite local fish markets
North Fork Seafood in Greenport, located below the restaurant Anker (47 Front St.) is owned by Jermaine Owens, a master fisherman who grew up in Greenport and sells fish caught by local fishermen.
Favorite kitchen must-have
North Fork Sea Salt is my cooking staple. Owner Dennis Borowsky harvests salt water from Truman’s Beach to make small batches of this flaky, briny sea salt. $12 (for 1.5 oz.), $20 (for 4 oz.)