Farm stands and seafood markets, wineries and tasting rooms -- you need a car or a bike to do the North Fork justice. But Greenport, almost at the eastern tip, is a walking-around town. The region's gastronomic bounty is concentrated into one delicious village full of terrific restaurants, cafes and bakeries. Here's our selective downtown tour.
American Beech (300 Main St.): The gracious, beech-shaded structure that anchors Stirling Square (most recently Main, and before that, North Fork Oyster Co.) is now American Beech Restaurant & Inn. The dining room has been completely overhauled and five luxurious guest rooms have been installed on the building's second floor. Under the direction of chef Kyle Strong Romeo, the new American menu landed American Beech onto Newsday's Top 10 Fine Dining restaurants.
Grilled tuna with scallion fried rice, five-minute egg, bok choy, avocado and sesame chili sauce are served at American Beech in Greenport.
Scrimshaw (102 Main St.): Since 2004, the tip of Preston's Wharf has been occupied by Scrimshaw, Rosa Ross' cosmopolitan-yet-casual restaurant. The water views are unparalleled, but pay attention to what's on the plate. Ross, a globe-trotter whose culinary influences range from Macau to Milan, makes a mean local seafood chowder, duck confit spring rolls with tomato chutney, "Hong Kong" bouillabaisse and pork medallions in Romesco sauce.
Pan-roasted halibut glazed with wholegrain mustard is served over a purple Peruvian potato, local corn, red and yellow cherry-tomato hash and drizzled with tomato coulis at Scrimshaw in Greenport.
Lucharitos (119 Main St.): Newly expanded, this rollicking taco and tequila bar is named for the colorful Mexican wrestlers known as luchadores. Their fearsome countenances adorn the walls while terrific tacos adorn the plates. Filled with meat, fish, shrimp or even mushrooms, they come cradled in soft-corn tortillas and topped with salsa verde, pickled radish, chopped onion and cilantro. New menu items include Cuban sandwiches and pork huaraches (thick, shoe-shaped tortillas).
Lucharitos serves traditional-style tacos -- pork, shrimp and carne asada -- with fresh cilantro, onion, radish and salsa verde on soft corn tortillas.
Claudio's (111 Main St.): The oldest restaurant in Greenport is, in fact, the oldest family-run restaurant in the United States. Founded as Claudio's Tavern in 1870, the 2-acre waterfront parcel now comprises not only Claudio's Restaurant, but also two outdoor eateries, Claudio's Clam Bar and Crabby Jerry's. As the North Fork dining scene has become increasingly chef-driven and rarefied, Claudio's menu has remained constant. Here is a menu that Dwight Eisenhower -- if not Ulysses S. Grant -- would recognize: baked clams, clam chowder, steamed lobsters and a "fisherman's sampler" of broiled or fried shrimp, scallops and flounder.
Claudio's in Greenport serves lobsters in many ways. This one is stuffed and baked.
Bruce & Son
Bruce & Son (208 Main St.): Bruce's Cheese Emporium opened in 1974, selling cheese, coffee and other "gourmet" items. Over the years it has expanded into more of a cafe, less of a purveyor, and founder Bruce Bollman has been joined by his son, chef Scott Bollman. Under the direction of Bollman the younger, the cafe -- open only for breakfast and lunch -- strikes a nice balance between farm-to-table homeyness (savory oats with local mushrooms, local spinach salad with hazelnuts, pear and figs) and global sophistication (striped bass burger with lemon, herbs and daikon slaw). Most of the items take well to a side of house-made, brown-sugar bacon.
Savory oats with local mushrooms, arugula, poached eggs and truffle chevre is served at Bruce & Son in Greenport.
Basso Cicchetti e Specialita
Basso Cicchetti e Specialita (300C Main St.): Take a stool at the bar, order a glass of prosecco and ask owner Nick DeCillis to shave off some paper-thin slices of Italian prosciutto or Spanish chorizo at Basso Cicchetti e Specialita, a wine bar-delicatessen that has taken up residence in the town's rejuvenated Stirling Square. "Cicchetti" (pronounced "chih-KET-tee") is the Venetian word for little snacks consumed with wine and, in fact, a leisurely snack with a glass of wine is the main event here. DeCillis serves about eight wines by the glass, and slices cured meats and cheeses from Italy, Spain and the United States. The shop also sells a small but well-chosen selection of dried pasta, olive oil, canned fish and jarred peppers.
Piatto per due (plate for two) includes three types of salumi, two cheeses, mixed olives and Calabrian hot peppers at Basso Cicchetti e Specialita in Greenport.
1943 Pizza Bar
1943 Pizza Bar (308D Main St.): Matt Michel started off as an itinerant pizzaiolo, driving his mobile "Rolling in Dough" wood-burning oven around Long Island. In 2014, he set up shop in Greenport's Stirling Square and named his pizzeria after the 1943 K-6 International Harvester truck that had once been his only place of business. (The truck is still available for catering.) This casual spot -- with tables both inside and out -- is a favorite of locals and tourists. Try the New Haven pizza, with its "curiously good" topping of buttery mashed potatoes.
A pizza with tomato and fresh mozzarella is served at 1943 Pizza Bar in Greenport.
Little Creek Oyster Farm & Market
Little Creek Oyster Farm & Market (37 Front St.): The North Fork is Long Island's U-pick capital; now it boasts the Island's first U-shuck. At Little Creek Oyster Farm & Market, you are supplied with a kit containing a few oyster knives and a knife-proof glove and offered instruction in the art of shucking oysters. Owners Ian Wile and Rosalie Rung also own Little Creek Oyster Farm, which is raising oysters in Hog Neck Bay in Southold. The market features these mollusks, as well as oysters and clams (and pickles, beer and wine) from other local producers.
Aldo's (103-105 Front St.): When Aldo Maiorana started roasting beans in Greenport, many of Long Island's artisan roasters still weren't old enough to drink coffee. Since 1987, Aldo's has had numerous incarnations (even a sushi bar), and has moved back and forth across Front Street a few times. The hours are inconsistent, but here's what hasn't changed: Aldo's serves some of the best coffee and biscotti you'll ever have.
First and South
First and South (100 South St.): Open for brunch and dinner, with a happy hour in between, the refreshing, comfortable First and South emphasizes local produce and wines. Dine inside or out and try the accurately described "really good burger" (pictured) or South Street chowder (with smoked cod, applewood bacon, potatoes and clams), and don't pass up the fine, hand-cut fries with house-made ketchup (Heinz available on request). Executive chef Scott Leventhal, who has done kitchen time in New Orleans, has added some Cajun-Creole accents to the menu.
D'Latte Cafe (218 Main St.): At this Greenport institution, owner Frank Purita displays his mastery of myriad culinary arts: classic French pastry (try the croissants and Key lime tarts), fresh Italian gelato, good old American muffins and scones, well-executed sandwiches and soups. Grab a table outside or, if it's open, in a backroom that used to be the insurance office of one Joseph L. Townsend. Purita has turned it into a combination salon-museum with old prints and maps depicting Greenport's history.
The Frisky Oyster
The Frisky Oyster (27 Front St.): When The Frisky Oyster opened in the summer of 2002, it spearheaded a restaurant boom that transformed Greenport from a sleepy fishing village into the North Fork's culinary hot spot. The hip decor (not a fish net or lobster trap in sight) and eclectic menu are as lively as ever. Chef-owner Robby Beaver's cooking makes lavish use of local produce and fish. Specialties include oysters "friskafella" with garlic-infused spinach, chipotle and Parmesan aioli, and a dessert billed as "the best key lime pie."
The Salamander General Store
The Salamander General Store (38 Front St.): Once a little takeout shop off Greenport's beaten path, Salamander's now occupies a bi-level space on Front Street. The new digs have plenty of display cases for chef-owner Claudia Helinski's homemade salads, sandwiches, mains, sides and baked goods, plenty of shelves for her carefully curated specialty groceries, and plenty of tables at which to enjoy it all. Fried chicken (pictured), which is made to order, is well worth whatever wait there is.
Brix & Rye
Brix & Rye (308A Main St.): Talk about an underground location. In the basement of the building adjacent to 1943 Pizza Bar, Matt Michel and master bartender Evan Bucholz have created a convivial speakeasy specializing in craft beers and local wines, small-batch whiskeys, homemade mixers and live music. You can also order a pizza from upstairs.
Porto Bello (1410 Manhanset Ave.): A resident of Brewer Stirling Harbor Marina, Porto Bello offers water views (including outdoor seating options) and emphasizes seafood and Italian-American favorites. Selections range from fried calamari and steamed mussels to rigatoni Bolognese, chicken marsala and zuppa de pesce with shrimp, clams, mussels and calamari.
Noah's (136 Front St.): One of Long Island's top seafood restaurants, Noah Schwartz's restaurant is both a neighborhood magnet and destination spot. The look is slightly industrial, very sleek and in fine weather the dining room spills onto the wide sidewalk of Greenport's main drag. Among recommended dishes: Long Island clam chowder, crab-stuffed deviled eggs (pictured), Tasmanian red crab tacos, warm lobster roll, and fish and chips with Atlantic cod and Greenport Harbor beer batter.
Billy's by the Bay
Billy's by the Bay (2530 Manhanset Ave.): This casual spot prepares plenty of shellfish, from steamers and oysters Rockefeller to oyster tacos and lobsters up to 4 pounds. Lobster rolls, hot or cold, are available. And if you're on patrol for Cajun-spiced flounder, Billy's has it.
Stirling Sake (477 Main St.): Slated to open by the end of August, the gracious corner location that used to be Vines & Branches has been transformed into a stylish spot specializing in sake and sushi. Co-owner Yuki Mori, who used to manage the Manhattan sake bar Decibel, is hoping to introduce the North Fork to the finer points of Japan's great rice wine. Sushi chef Akio Kon will preside over a sushi bar focusing on omakase (chef's choice), while the kitchen will put out Japanese classics such as ramen, udon and donburi (rice bowls).