AS TOLD TO GINA WAY
Evan Bucholz grew up in Jamesport. “As a kid, growing up by the water and riding bikes to the beach, lifeguarding in the summer, I loved it! But when I turned 18, I was ready to leave and move to Manhattan,” he says. He went to college in upstate New York, and then worked on getting his master’s degree in American literature. “I was working as a bartender in New York City then, and that seemed like a more viable career move than becoming a college professor.” Bucholz moved to Brooklyn with his wife, Kyla (they met working in a North Fork restaurant one summer), and worked behind the bar at Colicchio & Sons in NYC and Fort Defiance in Red Hook.
Eventually, the couple decided to move to the North Fork and start a family. They opened Brix & Rye with partner Matt Michel in 2014. The basement speakeasy ambiance of the bar, as well as the ever-changing cocktail menu, are infused with a sense of history and nostalgia, not to mention Bucholz’s mixology expertise and passion for cocktail lore. He and his family now live in his hometown of Jamesport (talk about coming full circle). “The beaches, the farms, the community — I think, as you get older, you learn to appreciate that quintessential small-town vibe so much more.”
These are Evan’s favorite North Fork things:
FAVORITE LUNCH SPOTS
De Jesus Deli Taqueria (1106 Old Country Road) in Roanoke Plaza in Riverhead is a real hidden gem. The mole tamales and the al pastor tacos are excellent. They marinate the pork with pineapples, so it’s super flavorful. I also love Shadees Jamaican “Take Out” Restaurant (307 East Main St.), near the Long Island Aquarium. The food is authentic and delicious — spicy oxtail, beef patties, curried goat and chicken. They also have Ting, a Jamaican grapefruit soda that goes well with the spicy food — and Jamaican rum!
FAVORITE NEIGHBORHOOD RESTAURANT
Barrow Food House in Aquebogue (452 Main Road), is a casual little family restaurant owned by husband and wife chefs Amanda and Kyle Romeo. You order at the counter and can dine indoors or outside. They have a fantastic fried chicken sandwich, the burger is outstanding and their salads are awesome. Their produce is from the family farm down the street, so everything is really fresh.
FAVORITE FAMILY BEACH DAY
In the summertime, we’ll pack up the cooler and go down to one of the bay beaches with our two little girls. We usually just head straight down the road from us to Miamogue Point Park in Jamesport. When friends visit, we’ll rent a canoe from The Peconic Paddler in Riverhead (89 Peconic Ave.), and take a little adventure. You can paddle down the Peconic River to the mouth of the Peconic Bay, where you return the canoe.
It goes without saying that my favorite pizza is at 1943 Pizza Bar in Greenport (308D Main St.), which is upstairs from Brix & Rye. It’s owned by my co-owner and partner, Matt Michel. Even though I’ve eaten as much of this pizza as a human being possibly can, I still think it’s totally delicious.
Paumanok Vineyards in Aquebogue (1074 Main Road) make some of the very best Long Island wines, and their chenin blanc is consistently amazing. I also love Croteaux Vineyards in Southold (1450 South Harbor Road) because of their exceptional outdoor tasting room. As far as transformative places go, you can’t beat that hidden, beautiful garden overlooking the vineyard.
FAVORITE NATURE WALK
We love to go on nature walks with our girls and the parks and preserves are so easy to access out here, whereas most of the beaches require a residential parking permit. You can basically drive around and pull into a park and hike around. Our favorite spot is Laurel Lake Preserve in Southold (5501 Main Road), where it feels like the meadows and foresty trails are all yours to explore.
FAVORITE BAR (OTHER THAN HIS)
Having kids and working bar hours, I don’t get out as much as I used to, but the one place where I want to linger is Stirling Sake in Greenport (477 Main St.), a Japanese restaurant and sake bar. It’s a very cool place and the food is spot on, especially the excellent sushi. They make great use of local ingredients and fresh fish. The owner, Yuki Mori, is a certified sake sommelier and has a first-rate selection. I don’t know that much about sake and Yuki is a great resource of knowledge.
Star Confectionery in downtown Riverhead (4 East Main St.) is affectionately known by locals as Papa Nick’s. The iconic spot is in a gorgeous, historic building and has been open since 1920, and it’s still run by the Meras family. They have counter service and booths, an authentic soda fountain, a tin ceiling and marble floors. They do great milkshakes and diner fare. They even make homemade ice cream and chocolate bunnies at Easter! It’s a truly legit spot.