Though small on square mileage, Mattituck is large on charm, says longtime area resident Patty Orben. And Orben should know: She has summered on the North Fork since she was a child and traces her family roots in the area back to 1635.
Not only does Mattituck boast rich farmland and award-winning vineyards, but the fact that it spans the North Fork—from Long Island Sound to Great Peconic Bay—means it offers ample waterfront with serene beaches and breathtaking views. That’s part of what made the area irresistible to Orben and her husband, Jack, who moved here 17 years ago. (Their home is next door to her family’s summer cottage, overlooking the water in Aquebogue, less than six miles from Mattituck.) These days, their four children and 10 grandchildren are frequent visitors, enjoying the beaches, water sports, and rustic, understated appeal of this historic North Fork destination. — Bernadette Starzee
Mattituck’s main shopping street, Love Lane, is as picturesque as its name. Its restaurants and stores are a magnet for residents of the nine-square-mile hamlet as well as the nearby communities of Jamesport, Aquebogue, and Cutchogue.
“It’s a wonderful little street about the length of a New York City street,” says Orben, of the small thoroughfare around the corner from the Mattituck Long Island Rail Road station. The quaint shops include the Love Lane Sweet Shoppe (125 Love Ln., 631.298.2276 ), which, “as the name implies, has candies, but it has so much more, including fabulous cards and wonderful hostess gifts.”
Love Lane Kitchen (240 Love Ln., 631.298.8989) is popular with locals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. “It has great food, indoor and outdoor dining, and it’s always packed.”
Lombardi’s Love Lane Market (170 Love Ln., 631.298.9500) is “a gourmet shop with all kinds of food and prepared food. And Mint (260 Love Ln., 631.298.8009), a ladies clothing boutique, is where all my girls go. You can dash in for something smashing.”
Jack Orben’s passion for sailing was one of the main reasons the couple moved to the North Fork full-time. He has passed that love of the water on to his grandchildren, who come to sail, water-ski, fish, and kayak. “We have several kayaks and water boards on our lawn,” Orben says. “It’s like summer camp for the kids.” Boat rentals are available in-season at the Lighthouse Marina (229 Meetinghouse Creek Rd., Aquebogue, 631.722.3400), a full-service marina on the Peconic Bay.
The North Fork is dotted with farm stands, but Orben is partial to Bayview Market & Farms (891 Main Rd., Riverhead, 631.722.3077), in nearby Riverhead, about 10 miles west of Mattituck. “It’s huge and has every vegetable known to man, as well as divine jellies, all beautifully displayed,” she says.
Orben gets her flowers at Gabrielsen’s Country Farm (200 Herricks Ln., Jamesport, 631.722.3259). “I plant almost 1,000 flowers a year, including nonstop begonias, lavender, grasses, and Angelonia flowers.”
Located in the heart of the Long Island Wine Region, Mattituck and surrounding towns are a draw for oenophiles. “The vineyards have activities every weekend and they’re packed, especially in the summer.” Orben especially enjoys visiting Pindar Vineyards (37645 Main Rd., Peconic, 631.734.6200), which has a friendly tasting room with indoor and outdoor seating and offers live music as well as special events like paint-and-sip classes. She also thinks highly of Paumanok Vineyards (1074 Main Rd., Aquebogue, 631.722.8800 ), whose spacious tasting room is surrounded by an outdoor deck overlooking its 127-acre property.
Orben is active in the Peconic Land Trust, which works to protect 13,000 acres of land and to conserve working farms on the East End. The trust’s annual summer gala “is always a big, festive affair, held at different homes of people who own farms,” says Orben, an organizing committee member.