Chicken adobo at Pookaberry Cafe in Mattituck.

Chicken adobo at Pookaberry Cafe in Mattituck. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

Overwhelmed. That’s the sensation you experience when you cross the threshold into Pookaberry Cafe in Mattituck. First, the questions: Is this extravagantly decorated space a restaurant? A club? An art project? A performance space? A mission statement? A fever dream?

The answer to all these questions: Yes. Peter and Jeanette Marco opened Pookaberry Cafe in March. Peter, an artist, goes by the mononym Marco. Philippines-born Jeanette runs the kitchen and her menu is, well, overwhelming.

It starts with Filipino standards like chicken adobo simmered in a sweet-savory sauce, pancit (stir-fried noodles), lumpia (spring rolls) and lechon kawali (fried pork belly). Then comes more arcane Filipino dishes (a few made with pig ears) and Asian fare such as congee (Chinese rice porridge), Japanese tempura and ramen, Korean kimchi. Then there’s no stopping the menu: gazpacho, pierogies, falafel, burgers, churros, peanut butter brownies, tiramisu and the elaborate Filipino parfait halo halo. Only want a drink? There are dozens of teas, coffees, international sodas, juices and juice-based quaffs like calamansi lemonade made with Filipino limes and yuzu sours. The full bar has everything you’d expect — plus a deep bench of aperitifs and digestifs. The physical menu overflows a multi-page booklet onto a specials sheet displayed on each table. Except for a few mains in the $25 to $30 range, most of the dishes are under $20.

Peter Marco, pop artist and co-owner of Pookaberry Cafe in...

Peter Marco, pop artist and co-owner of Pookaberry Cafe in Mattituck. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

The cafe is located in a two-story building, just opposite the Mattituck LIRR station, whose last tenant was a yoga studio. Marco transformed the space with reclaimed wood and reclaimed pipes, fittings and mechanical parts that sometimes burst forth into sculpture. The ceiling is covered with the distinctive images — playful, with a hint of weirdness — that have defined his artistic career. He got his start in the '80s on Manhattan's Lower East Side where he was part of the pop scene that also produced Keith Haring. The ceiling of the dining room writhes with crocodiles (or are they alligators?) frogs, sea creatures and many iterations of a jolly octopus called Ollie.

Marco explained the cafe is named for Ollie’s imaginary friend, Pookaberry, whose diaper and antennae clearly mark him as an alien baby. The cafe is not Pookaberry’s first rodeo: As far back as 1998, he starred on a hugely successful Swatch Watch, “Alien Baby,” that took the artist all over the world.

Marco wants Pookaberry to be a showcase not only for his creations, but for local artists, poets and musicians. Information on events can be found on the website.

Pookaberry, 140 Pike St., Mattituck, 860-452-2139, Open 2 to 9 p.m. Thursday to Sunday.

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