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May 13, 2011 06:50 AM

Maple Tree BBQ in Riverhead

After passing by this place countless times, I finally stopped in.

I was put off a bit by its unprepossessing looks. Inside it appears to be like any other roadside deli on Long Island--and I mean the sort where people stop in on the way to work for eggs on a roll and a cup of coffee, or a sandwich of mass-market cold cuts on presliced bread. The sign promoting Boar's Head meats didn't help.

But it's the BBQ menu--typed out on 8x10 sheets at the counter--that's the draw here. Don't do anything until you look it over (carefully: the selection is scattered about on different sheets).

I had the house-smoked pastrami on rye with a shmear of mustard (spicy brown, of course). The pastrami was moist, tender, and flavorsome.

I will absolutely be going back to try more--I hope things are consistently excellent from visit to visit and item to item.

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  1. Thanks for the info, I too pass them by despite noticing they started doing BBQ and could smell it as I drove by. I mean it's an old time deli! I'll let you know when I do get there, in the next few days.

    4 Replies
    1. re: coll

      Ha ha, almost a year later, sorry about that! Typical, to say the least.

      I am so glad we decided to get our take-out Superbowl feast at Maple Tree. The last few years, we've been getting a couple of Italian heroes at one of the nearby delis, so that was my first thought, even though it's more a BBQ place. But they do deli in addition, egg sandwiches and all; and it was an amazing hero, with lots more filling than most and nice touches like a bit of soft, roasted pepper that probably was done there, and big black olive halves instead of those nasty canned sliced ones. Just had a leftover piece for breakfast, so good.

      However, the BBQ!! I always thought the phrase "melt in your mouth" was an exaggeration, but that's the perfect description of everything we tried. We got pastrami as recommended by Scott R, since it's my husband's favorite. I will never eat Boars Head again. We also had to try the pulled pork, and a BBQ brisket sandwich, which came on a nice deli roll. These were served with a North Carolina red sauce plus a white sauce on the side; hard to say which is my favorite, I was dipping everything in both equally. I also ordered potato salad just to check out their sides, and it was perfect: Old fashioned, vinegary, simple, the way I like it. I will be trying out the baked beans and slaw next time for sure.

      They also have great stuff for sale under the counter, I especially noticed different flavors of North Fork chips, which I would have got if not for the potato salad. Also on my list for next time is their grilled vegetable platter, with sweet potato,eggplant and portobello besides all the usual veggies. They also do a lot of fried fish, the lady told me they used to own the local fish shop up the street, I have a feeling that it's not the usual frozen breaded. As an aside (Motosport probably knows the inside story), last I heard Spicy's is supposedly in contract with a more upscale restauranteur here in town, hope it doesn't come to pass but it won't be such a catastrophe now if they retire/disappear on us. Maple Tree does BBQ chicken both on or off the bone, and all kinds of ribs including short ribs and ends, so we're covered. (Well I would miss Spicy's collards and macaroni salad, wish I could figure out their recipes!!)

      Everyone at Maple Tree was so nice; they're not usually open Sunday and although they were doing mostly big party orders, they took the time to make sure I had everything at the correct temperature for now and later. They also told me that a lot of people are going around the corner (literally) and getting a growler or two from Long Ireland brewery to accompany their meals. Then they said that someone is organizing North Fork brewery tours in the near future, since there are now 5 beer breweries on the East End, and will probably throw in LI Vodka too. Why didn't I think of that? Anyway, great food and friendly staff, a match made in heaven.

      The building is a tiny little old place and it looks worse right now because apparently someone crashed their car through the front window. But get some takeout and walk across the street to the little parking lot where there are picnic tables and sit by the river, enjoying some really really good grub! You'll be glad you did.

      1. re: coll

        Thanks Scott and coll! I look forward to trying the pastrami and potato salad asap...

          1. re: Scott_R

            Well I'm glad you liked it first, that's why it was on my list to try out. I've been driving past them for too long!

      2. We've been getting lunch at Maple Tree for ages. Fabulous BBQ, pastrami and corned beef made just right. Good breakfast sammiches too! Nice friendly family operation!
        coll: As for Spicy's, the word on the street is that the Dark Horse/Tweed's family is interested in the property to build another restaurant behind Spicy's down by the river and leave Spicy's where it is. We love Spicy's!!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Motosport

          Oh I hope that is true. Spicy's is so unique. And now I know where I'll be getting my corned beef next month....

          1. re: coll

            you think they would fix the window! it has been like that for a while now!
            A couple of Sats ago, I stopped by the Long Ireland Brewery (right around the corner) to get some growlers filled and was there a little longer than I intended to be...anyway, I stop at the deli for a sandwich right at 4PM and the door was already locked but they were in there and did see me but didn't open the door. If they don't need my business, I wont give them it.
            I also had a bad experience there when they gave me the previous days pastrami on a sandwich and tried to reheat it and re-consitiute it with maybe some water or something and when I got it home, it was a soggy me a favor and just say you are out of pastrami or whatever...that's what real BBQ places do!
            I like their BBQ but the previous two incidents left a bad taste in my mouth. Where I used to make a trip to stop in, now I might only stop in if I am passing by it.