East End: Maple Tree BBQ in Riverhead
The unmistakable and enticing smell of barbecue fills the air of Maple Tree BBQ in Riverhead seven days a week starting early in the morning. It's a process that begins around 5 a.m., but customers say it's worth the wait.
"You can buy our meats by the pound, you can buy them as platters. Brisket and ribs are our 'go-tos.' We have pastrami that we brine here in house and smoke. We do pulled pork, chicken. We even do turkey and salmon," says owner Dennis O'Leary.
As for the sides, there's what you'd expect -- mac and cheese and coleslaw. Dennis' wife, a trained chef and culinary arts teacher, puts a spin on other things - instead of the barbecue side staple of collard greens, she uses kale.
"We get local kale. We get beautiful kale all summer long. We take the bones from the pork butts. We smoke those. We make a stock with that and then we actually braise the kale with garlic and olive oil in that smoke stock," says Andrea Glick.
And there's another spin using a popular local item from the sea. They smoke clams to use them in smoked clam chowder.
For years, Maple Tree was a deli, but it's been completely refurbished as a restaurant with a full bar featuring local beers and wine.
It has picnic tables across the street along the Peconic River -- and an outdoor seating area that has a kind of brewery feel to it.