The booming North Fork foodie scene will see at least three new additions in 2015.
Gula Gula Empanadas, grown out of the Amagansett Food Institute at the Stony Brook Southampton campus, will open a storefront in Mattituck this spring, offering its contemporary takes on the Latin stuffed pastry. Owner Luchi Masliah started Gula Gula Empanadas two-and-a-half years ago and has been selling at farmers markets and wholesale.
“Working with food is rewarding, but a tough job,” she says. Masliah previously owned a restaurant and fish market, and when she wanted to get back into the food industry she thought of something she could test the waters with. Originally from Uruguay, she decided on empanadas, a portable, traditional South American food. “We eat a lot of beef empanadas down in Uruguay,” she says. However, Masliah uses a variety of ingredients, and deviates from tradition. “We have people from so many different cultures here,” she says of the East End. “I thought I would come out with my own creations.”
Masliah uses local resources and fresh vegetables, and her empanadas are always baked, never fried. She has several vegetarian recipes, such as Indian Spice, made with potatoes and spinach in a whole-wheat crust, and non-vegetarian options, like her Southwestern Chicken with cornflour crust, cilantro and lime juice. “People say, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen empanadas like this,’” Masliah says.
Having established her business using the commercial kitchen at the Amagansett Food Institute, she was ready for her own kitchen and storefront.
She found that the North Fork, particularly Mattituck, is a great community and booming, with many residents and visitors who are interested in food and farming. She also liked having proximity to the vineyards and year-round activity.
Gula Gula Empanadas will open at 325 Pike Street, on the corner of Love Lane, in a brand new building that is shared with a nail salon. Masliah is in the process of building the kitchen, which will be able to accommodate her wholesale business as well.
The owners of the Moriches favorite Greek Bites Grill have leased space in Mattituck for a second location, and they plan to open the doors on the new restaurant this month. The 16-seat restaurant will focus on counter service and take-out for lunch, and servers may be available for table service for dinner and on weekends, says co-owner Dimitra Laopodis.
Laopodis and her husband, Spiro, opened the original Greek Bites Grill seven years ago. The Laopodises also ran a Greek Bites—later called Spiro’s—for two years in Southampton on County Road 39, in a location that now houses Saaz, an Indian restaurant.
Laopodis says Mattituck appealed to them because there is year-round activity and the specific location—in a shopping center on Main Road with Mattituck Cinemas—draws people from the surrounding area.
The Mattituck menu will be the same as the Moriches menu, with traditional Greek cuisine such as gyros, spanakopita, spinach pies, tzatziki, kebobs, and fried goat cheese. Laopodis says they may also introduce daily specials. Her family is flying in from Greece to help open the restaurant.
North Fork Chocolate Company, a small business that got its start at Stony Brook University’s Calverton Business Incubator, is opening a permanent location in Aquebogue soon. The chocolatier will open at 740 Main Road, formerly home to Esprit de France.
“It’s just really a great location,” says co-owner Ann Corley, of Baiting Hollow, who started North Fork Chocolate Company with chef Steven Amaral. Corley says the area gets heavy traffic and is adjacent to the Borghese Vineyard Annex tasting room. “Chocolate and wine go great,” she says.
Corley and Amaral began making 4-inch pies and 3-inch cakes at the Calverton Business Incubator’s commercial shared kitchen before progressing to making chocolate. They began selling to restaurants and country clubs on the East End, as well as to retail stores across the island and in Manhattan. North Fork Chocolate Company had a popup in the Tanger food court from October 2013 to February 2014.
Appreciative of the Stony Brook incubator’s support for her fledgling business, Corley in turn will offer shelf space in her new shop to local artisanal food producers. She calls it an incubator outlet.
Corley also recently founded The Artisan Project, a weekend market at Grange Hall in Northville, where local artists and producers can sell their goods.
North Fork Chocolate Company will have its grand opening on February 14, 2015, although Corley expects there will be a soft opening a few days early.