While on Long Island this past weekend, I found a really pleasant restaurant: Tweed’s Restaurant and Buffalo Bar, in Riverhead, NY. The place is named for Boss Tweed, the notorious New York Democratic Party head in the mid-1800s, eventually jailed for the corruption he was widely known for. According to the restaurant’s history, Tweed and other New York politicians often came there and stayed at the associated hotel.
We knew none of that, of course. We just parked on Main Street and walked along, seeking a place for lunch on Sunday, and Tweed’s looked inviting.
When we opened the door, we were greeted by a large, friendly, mustachioed man who seated us. He and our waiter took our drink orders, and as those arrived the first gentleman returned with a glass of single malt Scotch whiskey. “Here,” he said, “have a taste of this,” and he told us about some folks from Scotland who’d been there the previous night, and how they all tasted some varieties and decided that this was the best. It turned out to be a shot of Lagavulin that he’d given us to try.
And he turned out to be Ed Tuccio, the owner of the place, the restaurant and hotel (and, as waiter Brian told us, “half of Riverhead” as well). Brian was a friendly as Ed was, and seemed genuinely to like working there and to enjoy their food himself. And he did a great “Louis Armstrong growl” as Andrew, who was playing tunes on the piano, played Wonderful World and we both sang along a bit (Brian far better than I).
The decor is friendly, as well. The walls sport items associated with bison (including a huge bison head, purported, according to the web site, to be from an animal shot by Teddy Roosevelt) and with the history of the restaurant and the area. There are old maps, old photos, posters, and framed newspaper clippings. It’s neither too bright nor too dark, though we sat by the window, in the brightest part of the place.
We had sautéed soft-shell crabs and a wrap filled with local duck, crispy onions, cabbage, and an Asian-style sauce; both were delicious. Brian also highly recommended cod, and bison rib-eye steak. What we didn’t know then, but discovered from the web site, is that their chefs were trained at the Culinary Institute of America, making the wonderful cooking no surprise at all.
During a break from his playing, Andrew told us about Ed’s bison farm, just a couple of miles north of the restaurant, so we took a drive up there after lunch, and had a look. Not at all what one expects to see on Long Island.
What a great meal, nice atmosphere, and friendly people! I certainly want to go back there.