After 46 years, you’d think Fred Terry would be sick of lobster rolls. Or make that lobster salad on a roll that, to here some tell it, he invented. “That’s a lie,” he says to anyone who asks, but if you don’t ask about it, what could it hurt to let someone believe it?
Terry’s right to that claim (he is mentioned in the lobster roll entry in the American Dictionary of Food and Drink, after all) rests on the existence of what he calls Lobster Roll South- side, but what the rest of the world calls Lunch, a restaurant on Napeague Stretch he started in 1965 when he was 19 years old. It’s been open summers every year since, serving lobster salad on a roll and calling it a lobster roll, in contrast to the lobster rolls served on the other side of Long Island Sound along the Connecticut coast made with hot lobster chunks covered in melted butter and served on a hot dog roll. Terry serves both.
In 2000 Terry opened a second restaurant in Baiting Hollow, called Lobster Roll Northside, which has proved as popular as the first.
The restaurant, which Terry calls the “country cousin” to his highway-side Hamptons joint, sits on land across Sound Avenue from his family’s farm. His ancestors landed on Long Island in 1640 and were the first to settle in Baiting Hollow.
The vibe at Lobster Roll Northside is laid back and friendly, like Terry himself. Stand alone in the lobby and ev- ery employee who passes by will ask if you’ve been helped, which means you’ll be questioned every 30 seconds. The staff can also answer any questions about the menu, which in- cludes all the fry shack favorites, as well as a raw bar, burgers and whole lobsters. The menus at both locations feature fried puffer fish, another Lobster Roll specialty.
Despite his aspiration to become a snowbird (both restau- rants close in the off-season), Terry remains attached to Baiting Hollow and the restaurant, which was managed by his son, Rick, who died suddenly in December 2010. This has put Terry back into more of a day-to-day role at the restaurant, with a renewed focus on honoring the area. One midsummer weekend he put tarts on the menu that he made from rasp- berries foraged off his land. Specials include goat cheese from Catapano in Peconic, and corn is only served in season. The tried and true dishes are always accompanied by something fresh and up to date. Of the renewed focus, Terry says, “This restaurant, it’s going to be about the North Fork.”