Riverhead Restaurant Review: Digger’s

photo by Genevieve Horsburgh
photo by Genevieve Horsburgh

It’s always a treat to visit a restaurant that has as much heart as it does great food. Digger’s Fine Food and Spirits in Riverhead is one of those places. It’s a feel-good, down home Irish Pub that has a bit more class than your run-of-the-mill pub, and that’s due to its upscale menu and ingredients. Family-owned and operated by Steve & Cheri Wirth since 2003, the restaurant is also home to the family of four who live right upstairs. Steve would have it no other way, he says, and he loves living and working at the restaurant.

Digger’s is a restaurant dedicated to providing its clientele with the freshest and best quality ingredients they can. The daily specials menu is comprised of what the creative culinary minds can find locally. The weekend I dined at Digger’s they had locally-caught mako shark on the menu for all you fish lovers out there!

After we chatted it up with Steve, we started our meal with items he couldn’t resist to recommend. First up, Digger’s French Onion soup. My husband and I love French onion soup, we try it wherever we go. This version boasts both Swiss and mozzarella cheeses. The onions melt in your mouth with a burst of sweet oniony flavor, and the broth is mellow and warms you to your toes. The combination of the cheeses elevates not only the cheesy goodness but puts itself way up there in my world of French onion soups.

My husband is a sucker for Buffalo wings, and since they came highly recommended by Steve, we had to try them. The wings had an amazing batter that helped them fry up nicely. Tossed with the house hot sauce, they were crispy and just spicy enough to please my senses. Served with classic bleu cheese to mellow out the sauce, those wings are a must-have at Digger’s.

We were also enticed to try the “Father Solan Baked Clams Casserole.” The recipe is a house original and according to Steve, one of Digger’s tastiest appetizers. The name is a bit deceiving, though, as you get much more than clams loaded into this dish. Chunks of clams are accompanied by shrimp, scallops and crabmeat, mixed with breadcrumbs and herbs, broiled for a few minutes and drizzled with butter. It comes out sizzling hot and loaded with wonderful seafood flavor. If you’re a fan of baked clams, you have got to try this original and tasty clam casserole.

One more must-have appetizer was the Marinated Sirloin Medallions. Choice pieces of sirloins are marinated for 24 to 48 hours then charbroiled to perfection. These steak bites were succulent and flavorful with just a touch of heat to tease the palate.

Above all, Digger’s is a pub, and in keeping with that it serves one heck of a burger. Steve said they use fresh, never-frozen Angus to make their burgers, and the quality of their meat is evident in the taste, bringing this pub burger to a higher level. Served alongside are Digger’s waffle fries. You can certainly have them plain if you like, but why would you when you have a delicious alternative? Digger’s loaded pub fries are smothered with cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon and brown gravy. Now, these fries are truly something to write about. Decadent and delicious, I will be back for more.

I couldn’t leave without trying another classic Irish pub dish, and one of the most popular entrees at Digger’s—the Tipperary Chicken Pot pie. Typically I’m a fan of pot pies with a top and bottom crust, but Digger’s pot pie has a top crust made of a giant swirl of mashed potatoes, cooked to order. Not only was it quite beautiful to look at, the pot pie was bursting with chunks of chicken, carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms and peas all bathed in a herbaceous cream sauce. It was warm, comforting and delicious. No wonder Digger’s loyal clientele keep coming back for more!

Digger’s Fine Food and Spirits offers upscale Irish pub food. Located at 58 West Main Street, Riverhead, 631-369-3200, www.diggerspub.net.

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