Sunday, December 04
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Jamesport’s Main Road Biscuit co.

To make a perfect biscuit, you must take care to neither overwork nor underwork the dough. Overworked dough results in a tough biscuit. Underworked, it will crumble apart and never achieve its full potential. There are no apps or computer programs or gadgets that will tell you when the shaggy mass is ready to be rolled and stamped out. Only through trial and error, through touch and feel and smell, will you know.

“Biscuit-making is an art,” says Marissa Drago, who tested scores of biscuit-making techniques and recipes in the lead-up to opening the Main Road Biscuit Co., in Jamesport, last fall. There were decisions to be made. Butter or lard? (“Butter. The lard biscuits were flatter”) Should she preheat the oven or start the biscuits in a cold oven? (She found that preheated worked best.)

Drago’s instincts were good ones. On a recent Friday afternoon, the café and takeout shop, which is open for breakfast and lunch year-round, was packed with locals. As a general rule, cafés that are located in white-shingled farmhouses with bleached white floors go over really well on the North Fork. But if those places also serve wonderful food made from local ingredients at prices that don’t cost the earth, they will have lines out the door. On that day, in addition to plain buttermilk biscuits, you could order a biscuit split open and filled with Drago’s own triple berry jam or a biscuit with chive or honey butter. If you were still hungry, you could have a bowl of French onion soup, made entirely from scratch, with melted Gruyère on a biscuit crouton, or a small heap of pulled pork piled atop (what else?) a biscuit.

Five years ago, Drago, who was then catering director at Financier Pâtisserie in Manhattan, and her husband Bryan, a tax attorney, moved to the North Fork from Brooklyn. Tired of the long commute to Manhattan, Drago thought about opening a small business that would fill a need in the community. Since she and her husband adore comfort food, they hit on the idea of a biscuit-themed restaurant that would take its inspiration from their favorite Brooklyn brunch spots such as Egg and Pies and Thighs. The couple’s first order of business was to bring in Chef Vincent Purcell to head the kitchen. Purcell shared their vision of a place that would serve house-cured salmon and homemade crunchy-sweet pickles and spice-flecked sausage, all done right. While he was putting his stamp on her and Bryan’s family recipes, the pair began establishing relationships with local farmers and food producers.

Now having completed their first season, the Dragos may soon begin serving dinner one or two nights a week. And they are in talks with wineries to collaborate on special wine-pairing dinners. In the warmer months, they plan to offer outdoor seating on the back patio. From the look of it, they will need those extra tables to accommodate biscuit-lovers from all parts of Long Island, and maybe even far-off Brooklyn.