Pop Art and Filipino Fusion Make Their Way to Mattituck at Pookaberry Cafe - 27 East

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Pop Art and Filipino Fusion Make Their Way to Mattituck at Pookaberry Cafe

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Artist Peter Marco has incorporated his artwork into the restaurant at Pookaberry Cafe. J.D. Allen photo

Artist Peter Marco has incorporated his artwork into the restaurant at Pookaberry Cafe. J.D. Allen photo

Pop Art and Filipino Fusion Make Their Way to Mattituck at Pookaberry Cafe

Pop Art and Filipino Fusion Make Their Way to Mattituck at Pookaberry Cafe

Pop Art and Filipino Fusion Make Their Way to Mattituck at Pookaberry Cafe

Pop Art and Filipino Fusion Make Their Way to Mattituck at Pookaberry Cafe

Pop Art and Filipino Fusion Make Their Way to Mattituck at Pookaberry Cafe

Pop Art and Filipino Fusion Make Their Way to Mattituck at Pookaberry Cafe

Pop Art and Filipino Fusion Make Their Way to Mattituck at Pookaberry Cafe

Pop Art and Filipino Fusion Make Their Way to Mattituck at Pookaberry Cafe

Pop Art and Filipino Fusion Make Their Way to Mattituck at Pookaberry Cafe

Pop Art and Filipino Fusion Make Their Way to Mattituck at Pookaberry Cafe

Peter and Jeanette Marco. JD Allen photo

Peter and Jeanette Marco. JD Allen photo

Pop Art and Filipino Fusion Make Their Way to Mattituck at Pookaberry Cafe

Pop Art and Filipino Fusion Make Their Way to Mattituck at Pookaberry Cafe

Pop Art and Filipino Fusion Make Their Way to Mattituck at Pookaberry Cafe

Pop Art and Filipino Fusion Make Their Way to Mattituck at Pookaberry Cafe

Pop Art and Filipino Fusion Make Their Way to Mattituck at Pookaberry Cafe

Pop Art and Filipino Fusion Make Their Way to Mattituck at Pookaberry Cafe

Chef Jeanette Marco. J.D. Allen photo

Chef Jeanette Marco. J.D. Allen photo

Chef Jeanette Marco. J.D. Allen photo

Chef Jeanette Marco. J.D. Allen photo

Pork belly sisig, a Filipino pork dish from the Pampanga region of the Philippines is just one of many unique menu items at Pookaberry Cafe. J.D. Allen photo

Pork belly sisig, a Filipino pork dish from the Pampanga region of the Philippines is just one of many unique menu items at Pookaberry Cafe. J.D. Allen photo

Filipino roast chicken. J.D. Allen photo

Filipino roast chicken. J.D. Allen photo

Julianne Mosher on Apr 16, 2024

Peter Marco and his wife, Jeanette, transplanted to the North Fork five years ago looking for a new adventure. Peter, a well-known formerly Lower East Side-based pop artist, was tired of the scene and looking for a change. Jeanette, a self-taught chef and business owner, wanted one, too.

“By 2019, I was done with the Lower East Side. It was a shadow of what it used to be,” he said. “So I took off.”

The duo has owned a few spots — in Manhattan and in the Philippines, where Jeanette is from. Peter’s first gallery featuring his colorful and unique prints was located on Orchard Street, then, a few years later, he moved north, near Houston.

But that’s when things started to change. Things got cleaned up, small businesses were being gobbled, and it became the touristy villages that they seemingly are today. So, the pair moved.

While renting his new home in Cutchogue, Peter was introduced to a vacant storefront located at 140 Pike Street in Mattituck — it even had an apartment upstairs. Talking to the owner of the home, he mentioned that the couple wanted to eventually open a restaurant/art gallery on the North Fork. Jeanette is a chef by trade — it would be combing both their skills into one.

“The building he brought us to had good bones, a full basement and so on. There was an upstairs, too, and I said, ‘100 percent, we’ll take this place,’” he said. Shortly thereafter, they bought it — and Pookaberry Cafe was born.

Previously, it was a salon of some sort, but it mostly sat unoccupied. Peter learned that, back in the 1940s, it was a diner — he believes it was called The Coffee Pot. “All the old locals know about it, and they are happy there’s a restaurant finally coming back in here,” he said.

But nothing happened overnight. The Marcos renovated it inside and out for about three years.

“There wasn’t a lot to take out,” he said. “There was a lot to put in.”

The Look

An artist most of his life, Peter can find the beauty in what others might deem a piece of garbage. For years, he’s been collecting random things: light fixtures, broken-up wooden frames from 200-year-old homes, the top part of a whiskey still, a vintage coffee grinder, pieces of metal from an old frying pan factory in the Bronx, and a vintage fuse box from a movie theater once located in eastern New York. Mostly junk — garbage people would have recycled or thrown away.

The artist, however, does what he does best: He repurposed it in the restaurant, decorating with the pieces top to bottom into something new.

But it isn’t just other people’s treasure that he’s using as decoration. He had to add in his artwork — colorful characters and shapes that tell a story.

You can find Ollie the Octopus on the ceiling next to a row of crocodiles, with quotes like “Success is the best revenge” hovering above.

That being said, there’s always something new to see that you probably missed during your last visit to Pookaberry — who is, by the way, also a character Peter created. He’s an alien baby.

The Food

Jeanette describes Pookaberry Café as neo-colonial cuisine.

“I want people to experience real, good Filipino food — but not only Filipino food, because we’ll also bring in flavors from Japan, Spain and our favorite American food,” she said. “This made a huge influence with the Filipino food culture, because we were colonized by so many countries, and it made a lot of impact.”

Which is why Peter and Jeanette love to dine and try new things. Their personal palettes are expansive.

“I’m a food lover, myself — I’m a foodie,” she said. “I try so many different restaurants and cuisines, but I get bored. So, even if I like the restaurant, how many times would I visit and eat there if I’ve eaten all the food?”

Peter added that this is why they want Pookaberry to be dynamic. They plan on doing different weekly specials and even bringing in other foods from Greece, Canada and even homemade personal pizzas. But the main focus is that Filipino flair.

“There aren’t many places that serve Filipino food on the island,” Jeanette said. “And, over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had non-Filipino people come in and try things they never would have tried before, like pork belly with roasted and grilled pig’s ears, and they love it.”

But they’ll have a vegan menu, too, as Peter is actually a longtime vegan, despite his wife’s Filipino heritage, one that can be heavy on pork and beef.

Eventually, once the summer season starts, they’ll even introduce breakfast and homemade Filipino ice creams and shaved ices.

“We take pride in everything that we make in-house, as much as we can,” Jeanette said. “We serve everything fresh, and I take pride in not using MSG in our food … 90 percent of restaurants use MSG, and you can always taste it.”

They have a bar, too. The cocktail menu will feature drinks imbued with calamansi, a citrus fruit also known as Philippine lime, as well as coconut-based drinks.

“They’re all deadly,” Peter joked.

He also named all the crazy cocktails on the menu, while also incorporating some Filipino words.

In front of house, a small section will be dedicated to a tiny market featuring local goods and a grab ’n’ go fridge for quick, prepackaged lunches, dinners and snacks coming from the kitchen. They’ll also open up for private parties and events where one can rent out the whole space.

“We’re happy to serve the community and provide something that we think is lacking,” he said.

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