Ours is an island of contrasts—baronial mansions and tract housing, luxurious boutiques and big-box shops—and far of its distinctive taste comes from how these contradictions exist cheek by jowl. After which there’s Bellport, a picture-perfect village with actually one stoplight. On this former fishing and whaling neighborhood, you’ll discover a gazebo and bandshell out of “The Music Man” and a dry cleaner who does the tailoring himself. Even probably the most elegant historic homes have a restrained modesty, and the smaller properties skew extra Cabot Cove than Levittown.
For meals lovers, Bellport and its fast neighbor to the east, Brookhaven hamlet, provide a wealth of advantageous eating, road-side eats and kitchen provisioning from markets and farms. We’ll begin our tour within the middle of Bellport with The Bellport Restaurant, going sturdy since 1990 when Taylor Alonso and his spouse, Patricia Trainor, moved to the village and gave it a jolt. Alonso ran the kitchen and Trainor, a former trend publicist who died in 2017, presided over the eating room. Her affect will be seen within the restaurant’s whimsical but refined inside—exuberant oral work mixing it up with Irving Penn prints. “She had unbelievable style,” Alonso recalled. “Folks used to come back in simply to see what she was carrying.”
Raised in Washington, D.C., Alonso had labored in eating places from a younger age however took a detour when he got here to New York Metropolis and began constructing golf equipment and high-end properties. Then Trainor had the concept that they need to transfer to the U.Ok. and embark on a year-long skilled culinary course at L’Ecole de Delicacies Française S. de Mirbeck in Sussex, England. Once they returned, they moved to Lengthy Island and, appearing on a tip from a buddy, purchased the Bellport restaurant B.Ok. & The Bar, and settled in.
Alonso doesn’t prefer to outline his eclectic model, which attracts from a lifetime of journey and experimentation. The menu, now overseen by government chef David Inexperienced, consists of heat spinach salad with toasted sunflower seeds and balsamic-bacon dressing, house-cured gravlax with a dill-Dijon schmear on house-made olive bread, pecorino-crusted codfish with haricots verts and zucchini cream, and buttermilk-fried rooster with mushroom fricassee and braised greens, together with outliers comparable to rooster tikka masala with basmati rice pilaf, spiced fruit chutney and cucumber raita.
The Bellport is likely one of the village’s three main fine-dining locations. A block west of the site visitors gentle is Avino’s Italian Desk (est. 2008), with a menu that blends Italian requirements—baked clams, Caesar salad, linguine and clams, pappardelle Bolognese—with fashionable classics—crab muffins with corn relish and sherry French dressing, uncommon tuna with Asian greens and crispy noodles. And the most effective people-watching on the town is undoubtedly from the porch of Porters on the Lane, additionally opened in 2008 and serving straight-ahead New American—burgers and sliders and lobster rolls, steaks and chops—in addition to a “tid bit skillet” of marinated let mignon ideas with Gorgonzola cream.
Throughout the road (and underneath the identical possession) is Carla Marla’s Ice Cream Parlor, which appears prefer it belongs on a film set (and certainly performed a Hamptons ice cream store in a 2012 episode of “Royal Pains”). Extra candy treats could also be discovered at The Cake Jar Shoppe, which not solely sells its eponymous layered muffins in calico-snugged jars, but in addition overstuffed, over-topped cupcakes. By no means earlier than had I seen a peanut butter–stuffed cupcake topped with a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.
If you happen to occur to be in Bellport for breakfast, cease at Peter’s on the Inexperienced, the nation membership outpost of Patchogue’s beloved Peter’s Luncheonette, the place you’ll get a view of the magnificent course on the Bellport Golf Membership alongside along with your eggs. For lunch, the largest culinary shock on the town is Café Castello, due to Naples-born chef-owner Nick Gagliardi. You gained’t discover higher eggplant Parmesan on the Island: Gagliardi dips skinny slices of eggplant in egg and our earlier than evenly frying them, piling them up, then topping them with a vivid tomato sauce and blanket of mozzarella. If cavatelli contadina, with sausage and broccoli rabe, is on the menu, you’ll need that, too. When you wait to your order, browse the imported grocery gadgets, amongst them Frantoia extra-virgin olive oil, Stappi soda, Gia anchovy paste in a tube, Mutti tomato passata. There are just a few tables on the road and a capacious hidden patio out again.
You would possibly nicely miss the meals at Copper Beech, tucked away in the back of one in every of Lengthy Island’s most fashionable dwelling furnishings retailers. Designer-decorator Thomas O’Brien and his associate Dan Fink not solely have an unerring eye for linens, tableware, kitchenware and lighting, but in addition a refined and world palate. Groceries from all over the world—bomba rice (and the paella pan to prepare dinner it in), Pianogrillo olive oil, Pommery mustard in a stoneware pot.
Again within the day, the shop was dwelling to Wallen’s IGA, and the takeout counter is positioned the place the outdated deli was. However as a substitute of luncheon meat and coleslaw, it now showcases the handiwork of chef Stacey Schulz McDevitt: quiches and frittatas, quarts of roasted pork posole and microwavable trays of corn tamale pie. Greater than any native menus, McDevit’s takeout choices are impressed by and created across the produce from native farms.
Just a few doorways down from Copper Beech is The Storefront, with a small collection of clothes, equipment and soaps downstairs, books upstairs and a principal ground given over to artwork exhibitions. Throughout the road is Bellport Normal, with its minimalist eclecticism (and freshly pulled La Colombe espresso) and Thos. Cornell Galleries, which, in accordance with its proprietor, is the most important public sale home on Lengthy Island with common auctions. Across the nook is Marquee Initiatives gallery, which brings a bit of Chelsea to the South Shore.
It’s solely 5 blocks from “downtown” to the Bellport Marina (a.okay.a. “the dock”), the place boats bob in Bellport Bay and village residents embark, in town ferry, to their very own non-public slice of Hearth Island, Ho-Hum Seaside. There’s a playground proper on the water and loads of tables for a picnic lunch from Copper Beech. Final summer season, the bandshell stood dormant, however the 2021 season started July 2 and can proceed each Friday evening till Labor Day. One other collection of dwell performances resumes this summer season at The Gateway theater.
Left: A gaggle of girls get pleasure from a day picnic on the Bellport Marina. Prime: Youngsters play on the playground on the Bellport Marina. Backside: Boats bob in Bellport Bay on the Bellport Marina. Photograph credit score: Newsday / Alejandra Villa Loarca
Heading away from the water, Bellport Lane turns into Station Street on the site visitors gentle. Just a few yards north of the intersection you’ll discover Bellport Brewing Co., a shipshape new brewery owned by Brian Baker. Among the many 10 faucets are IPAs, a wheat beer flavored with peaches, an espresso stout and a nitro pink ale, plus spirits and cocktails. As well as, there are large pretzels, a resident meals truck and takeout from a lot of the village eating places.
In search of a wider collection of beer? A mile up the highway, within the much less rarified environs of Montauk Freeway, sits Bellport Chilly Beer & Soda. The scruffy exterior portends your common off-the-beaten-path beverage mart however cross the edge and be ready to be awed. Since he took over the placement in 1997, Dave Schultzer has turned it into one in every of Lengthy Island’s biggest beer locations.
Quickly after he purchased the enterprise, Schultzer had T-shirts printed for the workers that promised 150 beers and, he mentioned, “all of them had been listed.” Again then, the emphasis was imports, now it’s American craft beers. He’s devoted to showcasing native beers together with such newcomers as Ubergeek (Riverhead) and Ghost (Bay Shore). The newest shirt says, “Now we have over 1000 forms of beer & 20 beers on faucet. Which of them can I enable you with immediately?”
Assist from Schultzer or his educated workers is really useful to navigate the choice nevertheless it’s additionally true that, as Schultzer mentioned, “We’ve performed our job if you happen to can’t resolve what to purchase.”
Dangle a proper on Montauk Freeway and a mile down the highway you possibly can’t miss the large Varney’s signal. In capital letters larger than the restaurant’s title, it proclaims “lobster rolls” and is accompanied by a dapper lobster carrying a prime hat and cutaway coat and sporting an exuberant moustache.
Will Varney and his spouse, Randi, opened the place in 1981 and “junior” associate Invoice Lengyel got here aboard in 1983, nevertheless it wasn’t till 2018 that they added lobster rolls.
Varney’s son Jay designed and painted the signal; Lengyel, the chef, serves two easy variations: a chilly one wherein lobster meat is dressed with mayonnaise, and a scorching one which swaps out the mayo for butter. Each are served in top-split brioche rolls with the perimeters shaved off, so the bread will be extra lavishly griddled in butter. Regulars who’ve had their fill of lobster rolls would possibly order the equally beloved duck, which Lengyel, whose ringtone is a quack, slowly roasts to render all of the fats, then crisps up underneath the broiler.
Varney and Lengyel grew up in close by East Patchogue and frolicked at Varney’s predecessor, Junior’s, which was sneak-out distance from their highschool. Quickly after they took over, they stopped promoting breakfast (they nonetheless shudder on the reminiscence of the woman who wished her eggs “over delicious”) and raised the outdated lunch counter so it capabilities as a bar. Aside from that, the little construction retains its ramshackle, mid-century roadside attraction.
Varney’s tackle is in Brookhaven, nevertheless it’s not the City of Brookhaven, which, extending from Lengthy Island Sound within the north to the Nice South Bay within the south, is the most important within the state at 531 sq. miles. That is the hamlet of Brookhaven, a mere 5.9 sq. miles. Except for Varney’s, the one dine-in spot is Painters’ Restaurant, a rollicking place with equally high-spirited fare starting from the traditional (comparable to marinated skirt steak and iron-skillet roasted rooster) to the extravagant (mango- avocado-pecan-goat-cheese salad, grilled cheese with Buffalo rooster). So-called “genius burgers” bear the names of artists comparable to Michelangelo, Georgia O’Keeffe and, in fact, Francis Bacon.
What the hamlet does have in abundance is farms. The oldest, 49-acre Deer Run Farms, has been labored by the Nolan household since 1953. Their farm stand, open Wednesday to Sunday in season, dietary supplements their very own produce with dairy, specialty gadgets and selfmade pies. A minute down the highway is Early Woman; its farmer, Patty Gentry, a former skilled chef, cultivated just a few acres in East Moriches earlier than she was drafted by Isabella Rosselini (sure, that Isabella Rosellini) to work the a lot larger plot the actress bought to protect as farmland. There’s no farm stand; all produce is destined for eating places or the farm’s CSA.
Diners of a sure stripe already learn about H.O.G. Farm. The initials stand for “Hamlet Natural Backyard” and its produce graces the menus of a few of Suffolk’s best eating places (Verde Kitchen & Cocktails and Bakuto on the South Shore, Orto and The Trattoria on the North). Beginning in Might, the farm stand opened to the general public on Saturday mornings and, as soon as the season acquired underway, prolonged its hours to Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons as nicely.
As a result of eating places are such essential clients, H.O.G. cultivates a excessive proportion of area of interest crops comparable to pea greens, Japanese turnips, nettles, bronze fennel, dozens of head lettuces and heirloom tomatoes. Head farmer Sean Pilger finds it diffcult to rein himself in. “Within the winter we geek out on seed catalogs,” he mentioned. “We order the inexperienced beans and in addition purple beans and yellow beans. We would plant 12 forms of cucumbers as a result of they appeared so tantalizing, and we normally uncover that there are actually 4 that clients are drawn to.”
Pilger grew up in Brookhaven hamlet, studied agriculture at Cornell and launched into an itinerant farming profession earlier than transferring again in 2006 and becoming a member of H.O.G. His dedication to native meals doesn’t cease at greens. On the farm stand you’ll additionally discover heritage pork from Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island, cheese from Mecox Bay Dairy in Bridgehampton, pizza dough from native bakery KC Wild Bread.
Heed this recommendation for a go to to H.O.G. farm or any foray into Bellport-Brookhaven: Carry a cooler and purchasing baggage. You’ll be leaving this nook of the Island with loads of produce, leftovers and reminiscences—or at the very least sufficient of them to tide you over till your subsequent go to.
EATING & DRINKING
AVINO’S ITALIAN TABLE: 108 S. Nation Rd., Bellport; 631-803-6416, avinositaliantable.com
BELLPORT BREWING CO.: 14 Station Rd., Bellport; 631-909-4457, bellportbrewing.com
THE BELLPORT RESTAURANT: 159 S. Nation Rd., Bellport; 631-286-7550, thebellportrestaurant.com
CAFE CASTELLO: 141 S. Nation Rd., Bellport; 631-803-8370, bellport.com/cafecastello
THE CAKE JAR SHOPPE: 117A S. Nation Rd., Bellport; 631-803-8822
CARLA MARLA’S ICE CREAM PARLOR: 8 Bellport Lane, Bellport; 631-803-6630
PAINTERS’ RESTAURANT: 416 S. Nation Rd., Brookhaven; 631-803-8593, paintersrestaurant.com
PETER’S ON THE GREEN: 40A S. Nation Rd., Bellport; 631-803-8440, petersonthegreen.com
PORTERS ON THE LANE: 19 Bellport Lane, Bellport; 631-803-6067, portersonthelane.com
VARNEY’S: 2109 Montauk Hwy., Brookhaven; 631-286-9569, varneysrestaurant.com
BELLPORT COLD BEER & SODA: 417 Station Rd., Bellport; 631-286-0760, bellportbeer.com
BELLPORT GENERAL: 138 S. Nation Rd., Bellport; 631-803-8121
COPPER BEECH: 133 S. Nation Rd., Bellport; 631-286-0202, copperbeechbythesea.com
DEER RUN FARMS: 282 S. Nation Rd., Brookhaven; 631-707-2195
THE GATEWAY PERFORMINGARTS CENTER OF SUFFOLK COUNTY 215 S. Nation Rd., Bellport; 631-286-1133, thegateway.org
H.O.G. FARM: 319 Beaver Dam Rd., Brookhaven; thehogfarm.org
MARQUEE PROJECTS GALLERY:14 Bellport Lane, Bellport; 631-803-2511, marqueeprojects.org
THE STOREFRONT: 139 S. Nation Rd., Bellport; 631-803-2190, thestorefrontbellport.com
THOS. CORNELL GALLERIES: 152 S. Nation Rd., Bellport; 631-289-9505, thoscornellauctions.com
VILLAGE OF BELLPORT: bellportvillageny.gov