Although Riverhead is known as the gateway to Long Island’s wine country, it recently incorporated a different island vibe. Since May, mom-and-pop shop Shadees Jamaican Takeout has been treating customers to authentic Jamaican delicacies in a cheery space.
“My husband has been cooking since he came to America [from Jamaica] in 1990, and always wanted to open up his own place,” said co-owner Dion Hope who lives in Westhampton Beach with her husband Shane. “It was just the right time; we saw [a Jamaican restaurant] as a need [in Riverhead], now we get that it was wanted.”
Though referred to as a takeout establishment, Shadees offers family-friendly dining upstairs. The causual nature, including native music, is what makes it a local gem.
The other key ingredient: delicious island fare. Popular dishes include jerk chicken served with rice and peas, oxtail and curry goat. There’s also traditional Jamaican ackee and saltfish (salt cod sautéed in boiled ackee fruit, onions, tomatoes, peppers and spices) and stew peas (a mix of red kidney beans, pig’s tail, stew beef, milk, hot pepper and spices).
Though they have a distinct kick, the dishes are not prepared with heavy spices. The focus is more on herbs because spices can always be added, not taken away.
The menu also has a soft spot for sweet tooths. Customers can expand their palates with fluffy Jamaican black cake and Jamaican sweet potato pudding. Plus, there are also authentic soft drinks like Ting and Jamaican Kola.
But above all the genuine cuisine, the core of the restaurant comes back to family.
“Our children work in the shop. We are very much family-orientated and we want to keep it that way.”
Shadees Jamaican Takeout is located at 307 E Main St.