California-based "The Real Housewives of Orange County" star Gina Kirschenheiter, a Long Island native, complimented a long-standing Northport restaurant Sunday while spending time back East.
"Another great Long Island night @robkescountryinn," Kirschenheiter, 35, wrote on Instagram, posting a photo of herself posing with Robke's Country Inn co-owner Louis Selvaggio Jr., son of fellow co-owner Louis Selvaggio, who in 1978 took over the 1961-vintage restaurant from Ernest Robke. "[T]hank you @louiesel1212 and crew for the best food and atmosphere on the island. You need to eat here if you haven’t already," she said, adding the hashtags #myfavoriterestaurant #backonlongisland #leftoversforbreakfast.
Selvaggio Jr., 38, of Huntington Village, reposted the missive on his Instagram Story account shortly afterward. Sunday's visit, he told Newsday, "was her third time here in two weeks. She was here with her girlfriend two weeks ago. Then they came again the next night — a Thursday and a Friday, back-to-back. Then last weekend and then last night" with local couple Tommy Milback and wife Priscilla Kam-Milback, whom Selvaggio described as "Gina's best friend."
The three sat at a table in the bar section. "A couple of people recognized her," Selvaggio said. "I wouldn't recognize her, but a couple of customers were in shock when they saw her" and came up to the reality star to say they liked her show.
The Instagram photo came about, Selvaggio said, "when I was walking them out and she said, 'Let's take a pic.' She's so down the earth — really cool, really sweet, really pretty."
Other celebrities who have patronized the restaurant, he said, have included comedian brothers Kevin James and Gary Valentine and reality-TV stars Carmine Gotti ("Growing Up Gotti") and Theresa Caputo ("Long Island Medium").
Kirschenheiter, who joined the flagship of Bravo's "Real Housewives" reality-show franchise last year for its 13th season, and who returns for the new season Tuesday, was born in Rockville Centre and raised in North Babylon. She graduated from North Babylon High School in 2002 and later from Hofstra University in Hempstead.
The reality-TV star apologized to fans in February after being arrested on a DUI charge in California. Last month she was sentenced to probation, 20 hours of community service and six months in an alcohol program.
In June, she filed for a domestic-violence restraining order against her estranged husband, Matthew Kirschenheiter, also 35, who has not been charged with a crime. Both parties missed a July 16 hearing, which was rescheduled to Aug. 14. The couple, who have three young children, were married in May 2010 and Gina Kirschenheiter filed for divorce on April 2, 2018.