Drive east from New York City, and just before you hit the Peconic River, you’ll face a choice: north or south? Option B takes you to the Hamptons, that enviable address where summer dreams of rosé and lawn parties are lived out weekend after weekend. But lately, the road toward the agricultural haven known literally as the North Fork is attracting more and more devoted travelers.
This string of 15 villages has long been considered a quiet alternative to the raucous Hamptons if it was considered at all. Since the aughts, its laid-back vineyards and farm stands have drawn a smattering of Manhattanites via car or the Long Island Rail Road, including this writer, for affordable day trips. More indulgent weekends meant a night at the North Fork Table & Inn, where three-hour-long tasting menus were made by a husband and wife team that had earned accolades at power restaurants Gramercy Tavern and Aureole.
Today locals call the area, which stretches 30 miles from Riverhead to Orient Point, “the Brooklyn of East End.” It’s more creative and less fussy than the Hamptons but no less attractive, and, these days, it’s approaching as expensive. In 2005 the median home price on the North Fork was $451,000; now it’s $780,000. Local broker Sheri Winter Parker confesses she has a hard time finding any inventory under $2 million. “We were doing well before, but Covid took it to another level,” says Parker, who’s lived in the area for 21 years.
To her point, not a single restaurant in boutique-lined Greenport shuttered because of the pandemic. In fact, more opened to meet the demand of urban defectors, including the famed bistro Demarchelier, which relocated from Manhattan’s Upper East Side in November. Duryea’s, Montauk’s purveyor of choice for lobster rolls, expanded to Orient Point in 2020.
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