Long Island Sound boaters looking for a peaceful, scenic spot to spend a day or weekend will find a hidden gem on Mattituck Creek, tucked away on the North Shore of Long Island. Some 15 nautical miles from Westbrook and Clinton (the latter boasting a public ramp with overnight parking), Mattituck Inlet is within easy reach of Connecticut boaters, and the channel depth of 5 feet makes the creek accessible to relatively large power vessels, as evidenced by Mattituck’s fleet of working lobster boats and trawlers.
Once inside the jetties, you’ll enter a world of verdant, low-lying marshland filled with osprey, egrets and heron. However, don’t get distracted by the beautiful surroundings, as the channel is narrow and surrounded by shoal water, and it’s easy to run aground.
About midway along the creek, you’ll spy the red-shingled building of the Old Mill Inn and Restaurant, a venerable bar and eatery that recently closed and is up for sale. Just beyond that, on the west bank of the river, is Strong’s Yacht Center (631-298-4739, strongsmarine.com), which services large yachts and offers haul-out and repair, as well as custom work.
Your pot of gold awaits at the head of the creek, home to the transient-friendly Strong’s Water Club and Marina, which offers slips and moorings for boats up to 75 feet. The basin in front of the marina is also a federal anchorage with excellent holding ground and a depth of 7 feet, although you’ll have to find your own way ashore.
The resort-like Strong’s sells fuel (gas and diesel) and ice, and features manicured lawns, a ship’s store, laundry, a pool, a manmade beach and a lively tiki bar. The on-site Pace’s Dockside Restaurant offers delicious sandwiches, salads and dinner entrees, as well as an indoor bar.
From Strong’s, boaters can launch forays into the surrounding countryside. Lovely Mattituck Village is a short bike ride from the water, although the marina can arrange for other forms of transportation. The heart of the village is Love Lane, where you’ll find interesting shops and restaurants.
Wine aficionados will find their fix at the Roanoke Vineyards Wine Bar, also on Love Lane, but you can also go straight to the source for a tour of the nearby winery. Indeed, the Mattituck area is home to numerous small wineries, including the award-winning Macari Vineyards, and Shinn Estates, and most offer tours and tastings.
WHERE TO DINE:
Pace’s Dockside Restaurant (2255 Wickham Ave.) On the waterfront at Strong’s Marina, Pace’s serves everything from burgers to steaks to seafood.
Love Lane Kitchen (240 Love Lane) Gourmet and specialty food items including meats, cheeses, coffee, bread, pasta and more.
Ammirati’s of Love Lane (135 Love Lane) Mattituck natives Greg and Steve Ammirati offer New York City-style deli sandwiches and breakfast items.
Roanoke Vineyards (165 Love Lane) Featuring the finest chardonnay and the famous “Gabby’s Cabernet Franc,” which stems from ultramanicured vines sculpted by the Vineyard Master Gabby Pisacano.
Macari Vineyards (150 Bergen Ave.) Known for their balanced and age-worthy wines, the Macari family has dedicated their lives to producing an extraordinary grape-growing environment.
Shinn Estate Vineyards and Farmhouse (2000 Oregon Road) Powered entirely by solar and wind power, Shinn Estate Vineyards and Farmhouse takes pride in their process of sustainable winemaking.