They say, “Experience the oldest hotel and restaurant on the North Fork,” when the promotional staff of Tweeds Restaurant and Buffalo Bar advertise. They are right.
The John J. Sullivan Hotel, built circa-1896, stands tall and next to Tweeds. Ed Tuccio, the proprietor, is a legend in Riverhead, and very influential behind the scenes in almost everything that happens in that town. Tweeds is almost like his clubhouse where he entertains his dearest friends and that alone insures the highest quality of service, food and atmosphere.
Anthony Coates, who manages Tweeds, smiles as he pointed to his boss saying, “He sets a high standard in everything he does, and he is such a great guy.” Ed Tuccio was a pioneer in bringing back the American Bison. He has the largest herd east of the Mississippi and therefore the menu boasts both Bison steaks, and Bison burgers.
Mr. Coates stated that chefs Peter Cook and Jeff Trujillo are skilled and trained to delight you with their magic in the kitchen, the notable dishes are; Bison rib eye, tweeds bison, always fresh seafood, one pound burgers at night, Bison burgers, local duck, and Asian tuna salad. They do outside catering through the entity of Dark Horse Catering, just recently doing an event for Hillary and Bill Clinton. Besides the entire historical ambiance that reminds one of the Queen Victoria Bar in Cody Wyoming, once actually owned by Buffalo Bill, Tweeds also has the wonderful Andrew Wargo on the piano. Tweeds present live jazz on Friday and Saturday evenings and American standards on Sunday.
The establishment is named after New York City’s notorious Boss Tweed, the flamboyant political leader of that city during the 19 century. The bar was once Governor Al Smith’s unofficial political headquarters. It still serves as an unofficial political clubhouse for county officials, including judges, people from the D.A.’s offices, Riverhead town official, and State Sen. Ken LaValle. Deals are done over bison burgers, and beers at the bar or on the wonderful private and elegant tables all under the eyes the mounted bison head high up on the wall. In the front of the tavern is a stone marker engraved and placed there by no one other than Benjamin Franklin himself in the 1750s to part a mailing route to Orient.
When I went there my mission was to have my first Bison rib eye. Brian Miller my waiter recommended medium rare as did Ed Tuccio himself. Along with date Cindi Samone-Braf (who now is my wife), we excitedly anticipated our first taste of this American classic. It was sensational!
Cindi smiled and said, “Now you know why the Indians hunted the Buffalo, they knew it tasted this good.”
We left nothing for the dog. After sharing a wonderful carrot cake desert and a few sips of coffee we stayed and enjoyed just being in Tweeds. The place is just so comfortable in every way. It is quaint Americana in the authentic. It is soothing just to be inside. Ed Tuccio somehow has recaptured the feeling of small town big time hotel eating, as if you are having your first good meal after a long stage coach ride across the great plains. Cindi said, “It’s like a time machine, as if you back into time.”
The Victorian chandeliers, the authentic stained glass, the mahogany and marble bar constructed for the 1893 world’s fair in Chicago, along with the last Bison hunted by Teddy Roosevelt in the Dakota “Badlands.” The oak mantled fireplace yearns for your attention. Priced smartly so that one can bring the whole family, many do. With parking easily available in the municipal parking lot in the rear of the hotel and restaurant, it is also available on the street in front.
Tweeds is located in the heart of the Riverhead Historic District with the actual address being 17 East Main Street, near where Route 24 runs into Riverhead's Main Street. Through Tweeds outdoor special occasions can be catered that are held at North Quarter Farm where 85 buffalo roam the 2-acre farm. It may be noted that the bar is itself a work of art and it is a great place for a date or to meet the buddies and gals or to just go watch a ball game. More often than not end will be there making sure everything in his place is up to his high standards.
If Boss Tweed was alive today he would never leave this place, that for sure.