Chef Greg Ling sautées a combination of chopped chickpeas and shrimp in his shrimp-falafel balls.

East Enders looking for a special meal on their way in or out of the Hamptons would be wise to stop at The Riverhead Project, where an eclectic menu of local, fresh fare makes it a leader in the area’s dining scene. Owner Dennis McDermott, formerly of the Frisky Oyster in Greenport, procures produce from purveyors such as Satur Farms in Cutchogue, KK’s “The Farm” in Southold, and East Moriches’s Early Girl Farm. The farm-fresh ingredients “really add to the flavor and character of everything,” says McDermott of the menu, which changes at least once a week to reflect the best ingredients that come in.

Beyond its freshness, the appeal of The Riverhead Project’s dishes lies in the unusual combination of chef Greg Ling’s Chinese heritage and McDermott’s Italian-American culinary upbringing and vegetarianism. Chef Ling “doesn’t use a lot of cream,” says McDermott. “He doesn’t use a lot of butter, and he doesn’t use a lot of cheese. It’s all very clean and flash-cooked.” Meanwhile McDermott’s dietary preference brings to the menu dishes like the Forager’s Stack, which features eight to 12 different vegetables either grilled, steamed, or raw. Similarly, shrimp-falafel balls that are sautéed quickly in Ling’s signature cooking style and topped with black pepper-yogurt-dill sauce takes their cue from vegetarian culture. Chicken, steak, and scallop dishes round out the menu, although the treatments for each are always an exciting surprise. 300 E. Main St., Riverhead, 284-9300

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