August 5, 2019
Up the Creek: Mattituck, NY
Ease into Mattituck Creek from the open waters of Long Island Sound and you get the feeling you’ve slipped through a wormhole to the past. This magical North Fork village has worked hard to maintain its rural charm while building an agritourism base that seems to have universal appeal among locals, visiting boaters and landlubber tourists alike.
For Connecticut boaters, Mattituck couldn’t be easier to reach. It’s just 15 nautical miles from Clinton and Westbrook—and Guilford, Saybrook, and Branford aren’t too far away either. Trailer-boaters can launch at the Clinton Town Launch for daytrips or even weekend getaways, as the town allows overnight parking.
Once you arrive at Mattituck Inlet, it’s no-wake through the channel, which has been dredged to roughly 11’ through the first two turns. After that, you’ve got a mean low water depth of 6 ½’ to the head of the creek. Follow the markers closely, as it’s easy to become distracted by all the ospreys and beautiful salt marsh.
Heart & Soul
“This is such a great place for New England boaters to visit,” says Bridget Rymer of Strong’s Marine and Waterclub, at the head of Mattituck Creek. “The waters here are well protected, and beautiful Mattituck Creek lets you enjoy a slow cruise and get a taste of the local flavor. As for the village, it may be small, but it’s huge on character, and there’s plenty to see and do in the surrounding area.”
“I grew up here, went away to college, and came right back,” says Ethan Crook of the Village Cheese Shop on Love Lane in Mattituck Village. “I love this area because it continues to progress without giving up its beauty and charm. In the last few years, the tourism industry has exploded here, but that’s generally been a good thing. It has brought us excellent restaurants, wineries, unique gift shops, boutique agriculture, street fairs and farmer’s markets, but this town has never strayed from its roots, which is something everyone seems to appreciate.”
Holding onto its roots, however, doesn’t preclude some change. From year-to-year the stores on Love Lane vary just enough to keep things interesting. A relatively new face is Ammirati’s, a delightful delicatessen that brothers Greg and Stephen Ammirati opened in 2015, fulfilling a lifelong dream to work just blocks from where they grew up. If you stop in, try the ahi tuna wrap, but everything’s delicious. Across the street, Lombardi’s Love Lane Market carries a wide array of cured meats, Italian favorites, salads, locally packaged food items and specialty pizzas.
Visitors also have a choice of good restaurants from which to choose, including The Iron Skillet, Love Lane Kitchen, aMano, and Pace’s Dockside Restaurant at Strong’s Waterclub. Pace’s offers indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a fun tiki bar. Boaters can arrange for dock space, a mooring or drop anchor in the federal anchorage.
If you prefer to catch your own dinner, you’re in luck. Fluke and black sea bass can be taken at Roanoke Shoals, just west of Mattituck Inlet, while scup abound in 12- to 30-foot depths a mile to the east. Head deeper and you can catch bluefish on diamond jigs throughout the summer. Late fall brings decent striper action as the bass migrate east along the beach.
Of course, no visit to the North Fork of Long Island would be complete without a trip to one of the local wineries. I’ve sampled many over the years, and have found Lenz and Pindar to be particularly good. Also noteworthy is award-winning Macari Vineyards, which offers a tasting bar and dining area with views of the vineyard. Back on Love Lane, you can also sample selections from Roanoke Vineyards at its tasting room and shop.
Boaters may want to plan their trip around the variety of fairs and farm events held in Mattituck throughout the season. In June, the Mattituck Lions Club Strawberry Festival draws more than 30,000 visitors—six times Mattituck’s resident population. Fall is pumpkin time, of course, and you’ll find roadside farm stands selling gourds and apples every other mile. Throw in an occasional small-town parade, the Mattituck Historical Society Antique and Yard Sale, weekend farmer’s markets, plus a local performing arts theater, and you’ll find plenty to sample on a visit to this small but thriving outpost in the heart of Long Island’s North Fork.