Settling into the dining room at the Preston House, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve stepped back into the gilded age. Yes, the design, decor and food are as modern and chic as you’d expect to find at a restaurant in a new luxury hotel, but there’s something more. A sense of place and history seems to whispers throughout the 1905 historic edifice the Preston House calls home. As if the restaurant wants you to know it’s not so much new as it is restored, much like the town of Riverhead it’s located in is undergoing its own revitalization.
The Petrocelli family, which owns the Long Island Aquarium and the Hyatt Place East End Hotel, quietly opened the the Preston House & Hotel over Valentine’s Day of this year.
“We wanted to be a part of the revitalization of downtown Riverhead,” executive director Jennifer Petrocelli said. “And aim to take advantage of the convenient location as a dining and hotel destination on the way to the pristine Hamptons beaches and the renowned wineries of the North Fork.”
The Petrocelli family restored the original Preston House to its former glory and built a brand new building directly behind it, which serves as the five-story boutique hotel. Thoughtfully designed with different types of visitors in mind, the 20 rooms in the hotel are in three different styles, including a studio accommodating up to two guests, a one bedroom accommodating up to four guests and a corner suite accommodating up to six guests.
Upon entering the hotel, polished concrete floors give off an industrial feel while the custom furniture throughout has hints of art deco design. The concrete floors continue into the guest rooms with Carrera marble bathrooms, luxury linens that beg to be jumped into and espresso machines that sit ready to give a morning jolt. With its calm, relaxed vibe, the hotel caters to guests looking to escape hecticness for a day or more. That carefree vibe continues into the restaurant which has 88 seats inside and an additional 50 seats outside on the porch and lawn.
But don’t let the idea of a hotel restaurant fool you. The Preston House restaurant was designed with both locals and visitors in mind.
“We focus on fresh, organic, local and market-driven ingredients,” Petrocelli said. “Using ingredients that are in season allows us to diversify our menu throughout the year. We want our guests to keep coming back to try new dishes based on what the area harvest provides while still maintaining consistency on our menu. At the end of the day, our guests can find comfort in the fact that we will always have their favorite dish on the menu.”
Executive chef Matthew Boudreau oversees the kitchen, dishing out New American cuisine with a worldly twist. Boudreau, formerly of Locavore on Shelter Island and Baron’s Cove in Sag Harbor, likes to incorporate his love of travel into the menu, finding inspiration in the flavors of the places he visits when he’s not working. He’s in the midst of expanding the restaurant’s Sea Bar.
With outdoor dining season finally here, biting into a lobster roll or the smoked scallop crudo while sitting on the lawn and sipping a craft cocktail or a local beer or one of the wines on tap seems like a must.
One can only wonder what Henry H. Preston, one of the house’s original owners (he has a drink named after him) and the first salaried sheriff of Suffolk County, would think of the place now.