Moving to the North Fork in 2001 changed Norine Pennacchia’s life in a huge way. “I grew up in Malverne and then moved to New York City and went to FIT,” she said. “After visiting my dad frequently in Baiting Hollow, I loved it so much that I decided to rent a place near the beach in Riverhead. I got a part-time job waiting tables at a family-run restaurant named Touch of Venice and that’s where I met my future husband, Brian Pennacchia, the chef and owner.”
Pennacchia then worked in the interior design field in the Hamptons for the next 12 years before opening touchGOODS in 2016. This summer, Pennacchia expanded into the space next door, where she offers housewares of all kinds.
The Pennacchias live in Aquebogue with their 15-year-old daughter, Lily, and small town life on the North Fork suits them just fine. “Twenty years ago, there wasn’t as much going on here as there is now and it was really quiet, especially in the winter. But it wasn’t long before I ended up building a life here and happily making it home.”
THESE ARE HER FAVORITE NORTH FORK THINGS AS TOLD TO GINA WAY:
FAVORITE BEACH WALK
When I first moved to the North Fork, I rented a little cottage near Reeves Beach (264 Park Road, Riverhead) and it’s still my favorite Long Island Sound beach. I love taking walks here with my dog. We walk to the The Wrecks, the remains of five wooden ships buried near the shoreline.
FAVORITE LOCAL BEER
My husband and I always keep a stash of Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. (42155 Main Road, Peconic) beer in the fridge. This time of year, we love their Leaf Pile Ale, which is a pumpkin ale that doesn’t scream “pumpkin.” When friends come over, we serve it up in chilled glasses rimmed with honey and cinnamon sugar. Full disclosure: We fill the bartender’s salt box that we sell at the store with sugar.
I may be biased, but Touch of Venice (28350 Main Road, Cutchogue) is my fave. It’s my husband’s family restaurant and I love hanging out there on Friday nights, especially when they have live music on the patio. I always order a half portion of the rigatoni Bolognese, trying to save calories, but my husband knows better and gives me the full size.
FAVORITE LUNCH SPOTS
My store is close to a few incredible places. I love the extra-spicy chicken banh mi at Wednesday’s Table (53345 Main Road, Southold) and the enchilada verde at Latin Fuzion next door. And I crave the veggie burger at Erik’s (43715 County Road 48) in Southold.
I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a coffee addict. I start my morning at home with a cup of freshly ground Hampton Coffee Breakfast Blend (272 Main Road, Aquebogue) and I usually pick up an iced coffee from Erik’s before work. When I need an extra jolt, I go for the Bee Sting at North Fork Roasting Co. (55795 Main Road, Southold). It’s a special treat: espresso with honey and steamed almond milk.
FAVORITE MORNING WORKOUT
I need to stay strong because I do a lot of heavy lifting and moving around furniture at the store, so I go to BodyShok HIIT (13650 Main Road, Mattituck) three or four days a week before work. It’s super motivating and an energizing way to start the day.
The 5K loop at Indian Island County Park (Indian Point Road, Riverhead), is really close to home, and there are so many nooks and crannies to explore. It’s a gorgeous spot for walking all year round, perfect for kayaking in the summer and we snowshoe here in the winter.
The tasting room at Lieb Cellars (13050 Oregon Road, Cutchogue) is a perfect place to meet up with friends for a glass of sparkling rosé after work. It’s small, quaint and the sunsets looking out across the farms are spectacular.
FAVORITE FARM STAND
I pass by Bayview Market & Farms (891 Main Road, Riverhead) on my way home from work, and it’s where I can get everything I need to whip up an entire dinner — total one-stop shopping! They have super-fresh produce in season, as well as delicious cheeses, meat, sauces and a huge selection of pastas.
FAVORITE ANNUAL NOFO EVENT
In December, the North Fork Festival of Trees at Treiber Farms is so much fun and helps the nonprofit Center for Advocacy, Support and Transformation raise funds for food security and emergency assistance programs. The barn at Treiber Farms (38320 County Road 48, Peconic) is transformed into a winter wonderland with trees decorated by local designers, artists and businesses. The trees are auctioned off and the public votes for their favorites. We were honored to be chosen as the “Tasteful Tinsel Tree Designer” for two years in a row!