Marc LaMaina is a legit NoFo local. “I grew up in Greenport and graduated from Greenport High School. My grandparents owned clothing stores in Greenport in the 1970s and ’80s, my dad ran a deli and my mother had a children’s clothing store in the location where Lucharitos is now on Main Street,” says LaMaina, who runs the ever-expanding taqueria empire.
LaMaina lived and worked in New York City for a while, and then moved back to open up a café. “At the time, cupcakes were a big thing, so I opened a cupcake café. When Superstorm Sandy destroyed the bakery in 2012, I changed course and my brother and I came up with a plan to sell tacos and margaritas. We called it Lucharitos, which means ‘little fighter.’ It was named for my first son, who had some health complications as a baby. He’s totally healthy now, but still a little fighter. We were an 800-square-foot restaurant, so we always considered ourselves to be the little guys — the little fighters.”
LaMaina and his wife, Jennifer, who owns the Bright & Early Discoveries Learning Center, live in Riverhead with their three sons. “I think that building my life and my business here has been organic,” says LaMaina. “The success is not only due to luck, but also about the hard work of my team and having long-lasting friendships in a multitude of communities, which is something you can only get in a small town.”
THESE ARE HIS FAVORITE NORTH FORK THINGS AS TOLD TO GINA WAY:
FAVORITE DATE NIGHT
My wife and I are both really busy, so when we get the opportunity to go out just the two of us, we usually go to Il Giardino for farm-to-table Italian food. It’s our favorite fancy dinner date spot, and the chef, John Gambino, makes authentic Sicilian dishes with super fresh ingredients.
FAVORITE NEW (YET OLD) RESTAURANT
My wife and I just went to The Dimon Estate, formerly known as the Jamesport Manor Inn, and everything we ate was just mind-blowing. It’s a gorgeous estate with an orchard and gardens and the historic manor was built by the Dimons, a farming and shipbuilding family, over 200 years ago.
FAVORITE STEAK DINNER
Cliff’s Rendezvous in downtown Riverhead is a straight-up, classic bar-restaurant — a real North Fork institution. It’s where all the old-school Riverhead guys go, and you can hear some really funny, great stories at the bar. They have a truly awesome marinated steak. It’s one of those meals that never fails.
FAVORITE FAMILY BEACH WALK
My mom lives in Orient, and when we visit her, we’ll also head to Orient Beach State Park with the boys for a fun beach adventure walk. There are grills and picnic benches and a playground there, so it’s a nice place to spend the day when the weather is good in the fall.
You would be hard-pressed to find a better slice of pizza than at Claudio’s Pizza next door to Lucharitos in Greenport. They brought in Nino Coniglio, a famous, award-winning pizza chef based in Brooklyn. You cannot go wrong with a slice of cheese pizza from this place.
FAVORITE KID-FRIENDLY FARM
Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck is a place we go to all the time for their fun seasonal activities. We frequently stop by here after school just to get their fresh apple cider donuts. They are super fresh and ridiculously delicious.
FAVORITE BEER AND BREW PUB
Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. developed Lucharitos’ signature Lucha Lager. Head brewer Pat Alfred created the pale lager that’s accented with flavors of sea salt and lime. I love hanging out at their Peconic restaurant because there’s an open field for the kids to run around in, and chef Greg Ling is pumping out some really good food.
FAVORITE CHRISTMAS TREE FARM
Heading to the family-run Shamrock Christmas Tree Farm to cut down our Christmas tree is a holiday tradition for our family. On the weekends during the holiday season, they have lots of local food vendors, a huge outdoor fire pit and even a mini train for the kids that goes around the 20-acre property.
FAVORITE FAMILY-FRIENDLY FOOD (BESIDES LUCHARITOS)
After Little League games and soccer practices, we’ll frequently go to the Peconic Bay Diner in Riverhead for their awesome chocolate pancakes, open-faced turkey sandwiches, and great burgers. Another family favorite is Jan’s Chinese in Mattituck. My boys fight over the boneless spare ribs. Of course, we often stop by a Lucharitos location for takeout on the way home too.