By Mary McGlone
As the Main Road curves east in Mattituck, Love Lane sits discreetly on the left, replete with all the heart desires. This short block on the North Fork is a slice of historic Mattituck, lined with small shops inviting customers inside. It is a step back in time, “a little slice of hometown America you don’t really see anymore,” according to Michael Affatato, owner of The Village Cheese Shop.
The heart of downtown Mattituck is beloved by both locals and visitors, Love Lane is actually three blocks long, winding north and ending at the shore of Mattituck Inlet. But its real center is the one-block stretch from the Main Road to Pike Street. On this one block are over a dozen small businesses, many woman-owned, offering everything from cheese platters to local wine, flowers to jewelry.
“Small businesses love what they do and are a big part of the local community,” says Lauren Lombardi of Lombardi’s Love Lane Market, who calls Love Lane “a quaint little street with so much love.”
The street was originally named Railroad Avenue when the Long Island Rail Road arrived in Mattituck in 1844. The train station is a short walk down Pike Street. The path winding from the train station to the Mattituck Inlet, frequented by lovers seeking privacy and a scenic view, came to be known as Love Lane, and later the name extended to the whole street.
While Love Lane has come a long way — old-timers remember a laundromat and several dusty storefronts — it retains its down-home character. The block is anchored by the post office and corner hardware store, its scuffed wooden floor a testament to its history. Locals have come to this block for generations, and it is still the heart of the roughly 9-acre hamlet. Its charm — and the appeal of being able to find good local food and products close to home — draws in residents of neighboring Laurel, New Suffolk and Cutchogue.
“Love Lane has become a destination for a lot of people who head to the North Fork, but it’s a staple for the local residents, as well,” says Chelsea Chalone, co-owner of Love Lane Sweet Shoppe.
While the street is a destination in all seasons, there is no more perfect time to visit Love Lane than Valentine’s Day. Here, then, a guide to its offerings:
A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME
For flowers with a personal touch, Mattituck Florist offers handmade floral design. Owner and floral designer Danielle LaScala says, “Everything we do is made exactly for you and only you. We’re an independent shop, and we love working with customers.” The shop has been on Love Lane for 12 years, after relocating from the Main Road. In addition to flowers, the shop offers balloons, pottery, statuary and plants. LaScala encourages customers to order early for the best selection. Order online, by phone, or in person. 95 Love Lane, 631-298-5840, mattituckflorist.com
SWEETS FOR THE SWEETY
Chocolate lovers will delight in the selection at Love Lane Sweet Shoppe, owned by sisters Chelsea Chalone and Ashley Rutkowski. The business has been on Love Lane for 32 years. For Valentine’s Day, choose from heart-shaped gummies, jelly beans and Godiva chocolate, or fill a box with a selection of individual chocolates. They also carry greeting cards, balloons, stuffed animals and Valentine’s-themed gifts. Curbside orders and shipping available. 125 Love Lane, 631-298-2276, [email protected]
A TISKET, A TASKET, A GREEN & YELLOW BASKET
For a personal gift, the staff at The Village Cheese Shop will help customers create their own basket with selections of cut cheeses and meats, dried fruit, caviar, sparkling wine and crème fraiche — or choose their pre-made Valentine’s Day platter or basket. The small shop, in its 21st year, has a European flair and offers customers personal attention. According to owner Michael Affatato, “Love Lane is the hub of the foodie movement out here on the North Fork. The history of farming and agriculture dates back to the Civil War.” The shop offers curbside pickup and island-wide delivery. 105 Love Lane, 631-298-8556, thevillagecheeseshop.com
NO LOVE SINCERER THAN THE LOVE OF FOOD
For a romantic, no-fuss dinner, Lombardi’s Love Lane Market offers a Valentine’s Day gourmet dinner to heat and serve at home. Or stop in for a heart-shaped box of cheeses or charcuterie to-go. Owner Lauren Lombardi sources locally whenever possible, taking pride in imported Italian specialties, locally made artisanal items and homemade sausage. The market itself is a visual delight of beautiful, locally sourced food products. Curbside pickup, delivery available. 170 Love Lane, 631-298-9500, lombardislovelanemarket.com
Early risers can find extensive breakfast options at Ammirati’s. Their lunch menu includes many seafood options, including lobster roll, crab cake sandwich and shrimp po’ boy, for that North Fork feeling. 135 Love Lane, 631-298-7812, ammiratisoflovelane.com
IN VINO, VERITAS
For a bottle or wine by the glass, visit Roanoke Vineyards Wine Bar. As a throwback to Prohibition days, they even have a walk-up wine window. 165 Love Lane, 631-298-7677, roanokevineyards.net
MORE TO LOVE
Mint boutique offers jewelry and accessories. Online and in-store orders can be shipped. 260 Love Lane, 631-298-8009, shopmint.com
For a less traditional gift, let the friendly staff at Orlowski’s True Value Hardware help you complete a home project or design and paint a heart-shaped lawn sign to thank essential workers. 320 Love Lane, 298-8420
Then, buy a heart stamp at the post office and mail your Valentine’s Day card with a Mattituck postmark. And don’t forget to take a photograph of your sweetie under the Love Lane street sign.
The isolation of the pandemic has reminded many of the value of community and supporting small businesses. Love Lane shows that the journey is more important than the destination.
This story first appeared on DansPapers.com.
For more food and drink coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/food-drink.