The summer season on the East End seems to start a little earlier each year, and with a place like the Village of Greenport to spend our warmer days, we’re okay with that. As the casual and cooler sister of the two forks, the North Fork is where locals and the growing population of second homeowners seek refuge come the summer months.
From the time this small seaside village was settled in the mid-1600s, it has seen many names. Winter Harbor, Stirling, and Green Hill were among them before the public adopted the name Greenport in 1831. What was once a major whaling and ship-building port still bears a vastly rich maritime history. The daily catch of local fisheries populates menus of restaurants boasting waterfront views, while surf shops and bohemian boutiques line the perpendicular streets that meet at the heart of the village.
Times past can be experienced today at the East End Seaport Museum, which hosts the popular Maritime Festival during harvest season. Guests can explore the high seas with lighthouse cruises out of the museum, including the locally famous Bug Light, located between Orient Harbor and Gardiner’s Bay.
As the tides change so do dining options every now and then. Several new restaurants are making their way onto the food scene this summer, each offering something a little different than the next. Among these is PORT, aptly named for its location right off Front Street near the North Ferry that takes you to and from Shelter Island. Now the owners of a second East End waterfront location, Keith and Ali Bavaro are bringing a little bit of their Shelter Island restaurant, SALT, to Greenport. “We are excited to be able to offer waterfront and outdoor dining in Greenport, as only a few places in town can,” the couple says of the new spot that will bring a Caribbean flair to local seafood.
Just down the road, set back in a small square across from Mitchell Park, is the new home of the Olive Branch Café. Spanning three storefronts, the authentic Mediterranean restaurant will serve baba ganoush and hummus, salads, couscous and lentil dishes, and homemade grape leaves prepared by owner and chef Yusuf Alptekin, who hails from Turkey.
Making your way along Front Street deeper into the heart of the village offers experiences outside of indulging in food and drink. In the height of summer the Monday night Dances in the Park draw crowds for free concerts behind the vintage carousel at Mitchell Park.
You can find epitome of a small-town bookstore, Burton’s Bookstore, which is also the only one on the North Fork. Visitors and locals enjoy the varying lifestyle boutiques, including the newly opened Tea and Tchotchkes which offers a curated collection of bohemian local goods and global hand crafted artisanal pieces. Both offer the always-exciting thrill of discovering something new.
Front Street meets Main at the village center, with Crazy Beans right on the corner. A relatively new breakfast and lunch joint, they serve all the comfort foods too good to pass up and funky, tasty coffee drinks. Want more coffee? Roaster Aldo Maiorana can be found daily at his namesake shop and when the wind is just right, you can smell the morning beans roasting on the other side of town. D’Latte also serves coffee and a sweet assortment of homemade gelatos, both of which can be enjoyed together as an affogato.
You can’t visit Greenport without stopping by Claudio’s, even if it’s just to walk down the wharf. Another newcomer this year overlooking the harbor is Barba Bianca, a regional Italian restaurant taking over the former Scrimshaw space. Chef Frank DeCarlo, who also owns Peasant in Manhattan, says the restaurant will feature his city outpost’s dishes but with local ingredients. “It’s going to be amazing seeing the fishermen come in and see the catch before anyone else,” says the chef of the seafood sourced right off the restaurant’s docks. Wing of skate and spaghetti vongole are dishes to lookout for this summer.
Aquaculture is vital to Greenport’s past and present, with shellfisheries lending to the unique culture of the village. Rosalie Rung and Ian Wile are the owners of Little Creek Oyster Company, a cool shack of a place down Bootleg Alley where you can shuck your own oysters. Selections features the couple’s own shellfish harvested from their 10-acre farm in the Hog’s Neck area of Peconic Bay, as well as others from the local community. The whole concept radiates that North Fork vibe that brings people near and far to Greenport.
Lovable North Fork bartender Andy Harbin is opening his own namesake gastropub-style restaurant this summer on Front Street with business partner and Greenport Village Trustee Doug Roberts, and their wives. Pan-Asian restaurant, The Lucky Bee, will open a Greenport outpost, serving as an extension of their downtown Manhattan location.
Places we know and love for craft cocktails served by knowledgeable mixologists include speakeasy Brix and Rye (try the Northside Collins) and village staple The Frisky Oyster (Beaver Fever is a must). Lazy Sunday brunches are best spent at First and South where the Bloody Mary can be sipped on the casual outdoor patio on sunny days.
Water is at the core of our very being in Greenport, whether you summer here or live in the village year-round. One Love Beach not only sells insanely popular paddleboards, but they offer rentals, classes, and other events exploring the interconnected waterways leading to the bays and harbors of the East End.
If you prefer to come by boat (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), Mitchell Park Marina and Claudio’s have slips for day stays and weekend getaways with access to everything in the quaint but thriving walking village. Alternatively, you can book a cruise around Peconic and Gardiner’s Bays with salty sailor Captain Dan aboard the Deliverance, a sailboat dubbed Greenport’s original windjammer docked at Preston’s.
Though the saying “There’s something for everyone” seems a bit cliché, Greenport truly embodies an atmosphere that can be enjoyed by families, singles, friends, tourists, locals and the like. There’s much to experience and now that Memorial Day has come, it’s time to add all of this and more to your summer itinerary.