Certain restaurants are known for their expertise at turning out signature dishes really well. They've pinned down the ingredients, mastered the process, and gained a strong following as a result. Long Island has had much success cultivating great restaurants and creating a substantial market for Seafood. Locals can't get enough of the city's excellent food, and you'll often find them, along with eager tourists, at popular Catfish Max or at Seafood Barge, a major player in the field. Make sure you see what all the fuss is about!
Friendly service and great food: most restaurants claim these as their own, but only a select few perennially deliver. Those who frequent this Freeport fav make no bones about it — Nautilus Cafe is what all the pretenders aspire to be. Located on the Nautical Mile and keenly dressed to play the part of roadside seafooder, the Cafe wows patrons with fresh offerings of broiled marinated scallops, Maryland jumbo lump crab cakes, pecan-crusted orange roughy with tangerine beurre blanc, and sautéed brook trout with roasted pinoli nuts. Landlubbers will find a few things to tickle their fancies as well thanks to superbly done entrees of prime rib and Long Island duck with port wine-raspberry sauce. (516-379-2566)
Boasting a vista of Peconic Bay and a reputation as one of LI's strongest seafood contenders, Seafood Barge is far from your average flavor-of-the-month. The place's simple, functional decor boasts a few elegant touches, like white linens and, of course, the view. Decadent mains include seafood bouillabaise, grilled salmon nicoise, roasted Atlantic halibut, and steamed North Atlantic lobster (the house specialty). Steak and chicken plates are available for landlubbers. Reservations are encouraged. (631-765-3010)
Step inside this Front Street eatery, and you'll think you've been whisked away to some trendy Manhattan hotspot. Indeed, it's where local sophisticates gather, donning their hippest threads and looking the part in the gallery-like setting. The menu keeps pace with the mod decor, thanks to duck breast with Moroccan spices, grilled red snapper with mussels and lemon-basil jam, and seared scallops with confetti tomatoes and dandelion greens. Rounding out the experience are topnotch wines and delectable desserts — how does vanilla bean custard topped with fresh raspberry sauce sound? Reservations are a must. (631-477-4265)
Once an exclusive community on the Atlantic Coast, Oyster Bay is seeing its fortunes rise anew, thanks to daring restaurants like Fiddleheads, whose quirky decor includes mustard yellow walls, tile floors, and colorful art. Owner-chef Michael Ross, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, is known for his creative fare, which pays homage to the time he spent working in the Big Easy. Menu highlights include grilled Gulf shrimp with andouille sausage and New Orleans jambalaya, pan-seared Arctic char with lobster sauce and red Thai rice, and pecan-crusted halibut with sweet potato-molasses tart. Excellent wine list. Reservations are suggested. (516-922-2999)
Dave's negates any stereotype about dockside dining by cultivating a bit of panache with white linens, black and white photos, and terrific views of Montauk Harbor. Indeed, it's one of the area's most popular seafood places, thanks to Dave's Cioppino (fresh fish, lobster, scallops, clams, shrimp, mussels, and calamari in tomato broth), onion and potato-crusted flounder, and two-pound steamed lobsters. Outdoor seating is available during warm months. Same-day reservations are accepted, but be ready to wait for a table anyway. (631-668-9190)
CoolFish Grille & Wine Bar
Local gourmands give this place a perennial thumbs-up, thanks to its contemporary decor — terra cotta and beige tones, exposed brick walls, and black and white framed photos — not to mention its fabulous menu. Starters of steamed PEI mussels and yellowfin tartare whet the appetite for ingenious main courses, which include barbecued baby octopus with runner bean salad, pan-seared Chilean sea bass with lobster fricassee, and grilled North Atlantic salmon with summer pesto risotto and marinated tomatoes. Reservations are strongly encouraged. (516-921-3250)