Restaurateur Dennis McDermott had the vision to convert an old 1950s bank in downtown Riverhead, with its kitschy, space-age exterior and its utilitarian interior into a chic upscale restaurant. The result became . The chef is Greg Ling who came back out here from Philadelphia to work with McDermott again. These two made the Frisky Oyster in Greenport, one of the most successful restaurants on the North Fork.
Décor: The enormous, spacious interior features a long bar that is prominent and eye-catching. Here, among the creative cocktails and well-selected wine list, is where the buzz will take place. The décor is minimalist in feel, yet comfortable and relaxing with soft greens, grays and whites. The original terrazzo floors have been retained, but the fabric walls and acoustic ceiling tiles make for a quiet noise level. The background music is electronica/pop played softly. It enhances the hip aura without creating “noise.”
Drinks: Your server brings bottles of both flat and sparkling water for the table – the establishment's own bottles and its own water. This is a much-appreciated trend in restaurants that are environmentally conscious. Thick slabs of bread from Featherstone Bakery in the Bronx convinced me that the rest of the meal would be more than good, as a restaurant that serves the best quality bread will serve quality food. Recommended wines are the Malbec from Argentina, a local Palmer Pinot Gris or a reasonably priced Cava, a sparkling wine from Spain.
Appetizers: Next, a list of distinctive starters, some familiar and some exotic, such as the edamame falafel with a Shoyu glaze. Prices range from $11 to $16. The lounge menu offers some decidedly different small dishes priced from $8 to $14.
Entrees: A most outstanding entrée is the seared duck breast with chard and confit ravioli. The duck breast was ordered medium, and arrived as ordered. This superior duck entrée was served with briny olives and had a lovely charred taste. The confit ravioli was so good it could stand on its own as a main dish or starter. The Berkshire pork chop was cooked precisely to order. Very tasty. Black sea bass is a local seasonal fish that should be ordered because it’s in season. The season is short and the black sea bass too good to miss. It was perfectly fresh and perfectly grilled. All of the presentations were attractive without being too fussy. ($25 - $30)
Desserts: While many restaurant dessert offerings are somewhat gratuitous affairs, tRP’s desserts are worth the calories. Their pastry chef, Heather Giancone, rivals North Fork Table’s Claudia Fleming in skill and inventiveness. The chocolate cake with mint ice cream is a must.
All told, tRP is a versatile destination for drinks, snacks or an excellent dinner.