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Riverhead Renaissance – The Preston House & Hotel

Is Riverhead the new Greenport? Not quite-but with the opening of the Preston House and Hotel, the down-at-heel urban gateway to the North Fork just became a little more stylish. The farm-to-table restaurant and luxury hotel represent Riverhead’s past and future, respectively. The first occupies a local landmark, a turn-of-the-century home that was built by Henry H. Preston, the first sheriff of Riverhead. According to executive manager Jennifer Petrocelli, the plan was to restore that building to its former glory. Glory accomplished. Original hardwood floors, oak beams, doors, a fireplace with copper detailing, and even the stonework in the wine cellar all sing of the past.

“The place had been empty for years,” explains Petrocelli, “but it was in fantastic shape.” As a result, the developers were able to preserve a great deal of the home’s character and architectural details. The eclectic-rustic design takes its cues from the Mediterranean—the chairs are from Turkey, the bar tiles come from France—and even downtown Riverhead. While the renovation was going full-tilt, one of the workers discovered a wheel that dated to the building’s construction. It has pride of place in the dining room along with other items that are scattered throughout the house, including a pair of original barn doors.

The food is a Mediterranean-American mélange, too. Chef Matty Boudreau, who used to run the kitchen at Baron’s Cove, in Sag Harbor, is behind the stove, and he’s committed to using as much sustainable organic produce as he can along with honey from the property’s bee hives, herbs from its garden, and figs from the fig tree. The wrap-around porch is an atmospheric spot for cocktails and such inspired nibbles as smoked feta and spiced crackers or Beaufort cheese and toast thickly spread with a bitter orange jam—which could hit the spot nicely after a day at the mall.

The hotel aspect of the equation is ultra-modern and brand spanking new. (Think poured concrete floors in the common areas, sisal in the guest rooms, and graffiti murals on the landing walls.) Each of the twenty rooms is equipped with its own Lavazza espresso machine, a 55-inch flat-screen television set, and journals for that most modern of activities, “journaling”. The Carrera marble-appointed bathrooms feature walk-in showers and tubs, Roam toiletries, Frette bed slippers, and stylish robes. Petrocelli says the five-story hotel was conceived as its own self-enclosed environment, “perfect for stay-cations.” To this end, there’s room service (on the breakfast menu: house-baked patisserie and organic fruit) and in-room massage therapy and facials can also be arranged. Rooms vary in size from a 300 square-foot studio to a 950 square-foot suite.

“Riverhead is undergoing an incredible revitalization,” says Petrocelli, who is a member of the Petrocelli developer clan which owns Riverhead’s Hyatt. “There are small businesses popping up all over town. And it’s so convenient to the rest of the Hamptons. The Hyatt is a very busy hotel for us, so it made sense to build another hotel that offered luxury on a more intimate scale. We think it strikes just the right balance of Old World and new.”