Come summer, the region’s raw bars are bursting with the bounty of the sea.
Photo by Heath Robbins
Not only are the raw-bar selections at Eastchester Fish fresh, succulent, and tasty, but they can actually be a bargain, too.
Maybe it’s the sparkly beds of crushed ice and the often multi-layered presentations. Or maybe it’s the fact that, come the high heat of August, when we all need cooling off, a raw bar, with its easy-to-eat-with-your-fingers arrangement and plump, juicy sweetness, help us forget the humidity. Here’s where to go when you’re in a crabby mood—cold beer optional.
Who says you need to be near the water to enjoy Mother Nature’s seafood delights? At Caffe Regatta (133 Wolfs Ln, Pelham 914-738-8686; cafferegatta.com), the selection of tasty nibbles includes king crab legs, chilled lobsters, snow crabs, littlenecks, top-neck clams, lump crab, sea urchin, and Atlantic and Pacific oysters. Come on a Wednesday night when oysters and clams are $1 each. And make sure you try the restaurant’s house-made cocktail sauce, a citrus surprise that perfectly pairs with the bountiful offerings.
Seafood lovers have been flocking to Eastchester Fish (837 White Plains Rd, Scarsdale 914-725-3450; eastchesterfish.com) for years, thanks to its serene setting and affordable prices (every Monday night, there are $26 lobsters; every Thursday, clams and oysters are $1; shrimp is $1.50). The raw bar is dominated by an impressive oyster selection including numerous East and West Coast varieties, littleneck and cherrystone clams, and jumbo wild shrimp cocktail. If you’re lucky, you’ll be here on a Nantucket Bay and Wellfleet (Cape Cod) night, when you can suck down the salty finish of meaty, medium-size oysters. Yes, the damned things can be messy, but oh so worth it, especially when paired with a delicious Sauvignon Blanc.
The list of raw-bar options is long and varied at Goldfish Oyster Bar & Restaurant (6 Rockledge Ave, Ossining 914-762-0051; goldfishdining.com), where you can’t help but also munch on the restaurant’s famed goldfish crackers offered at the bar. Yes, it depends on what’s fresh—the eatery prides itself on its off-the-boat quality—but generally you can expect littleneck clams; jumbo shrimp cocktail; chilled seafood cocktail (two shrimp, four clams, four oysters); and a variety of the star attraction: meaty, slightly salty, always briny oysters. Selections often include Beausoleil (from New Brunswick, Canada); Beavertail (from Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island); Blue Point (from Long Island); and Salute (Nova Scotia, Canada, and Jorstad, Washington).
We love the laid-back pub vibe at Gus’s Franklin Park (126 Halstead Ave, Harrison 914-835-9804), where you can slurp back an oyster with an icy brewski in shorts and a T-shirt and feel like you’re stumbled across a Cape Cod neighborhood watering hole. The restaurant has been here for 70-plus years, and has the worn, dark-stained walls reminiscent of a simpler, bygone era. The fish store next door ensures that what you’re getting is top-quality, while the staff, with its homespun charm, ensures that you’re satisfied with your meal. Its minimal raw bar fits in with the down-to-earth surroundings: The sampler includes two oysters, two clams, and two jumbo shrimp.
Harry’s of Hartsdale (230 E Hartsdale Ave, Hartsdale 914-472-8777; harrysofhartsdale.com) is so serious about its raw bar that it offers an oyster glossary along with its menu. Like any place, the offerings are based on availability, but, for the most part, you can expect Fanny Bay, Denman Island (British Columbia), Pine Island, littleneck clams, Maine lobster, and shrimp. Want to impress your date? Order one of the chilled fruits de mer platters, creatively named The Pinta, The Nina, and The Santa Maria. All are accompanied by different variations of seafood along with savory (but never overpowering) mignonettes. Raw never tasted so good.
There’s something magical about Moon River Grill (222 Beekman Ave, Sleepy Hollow 914-909-5380; moonrivergrill.net), where you can sit on the second floor deck, cool oyster in hand, and almost smell the salt air. The raw bar here—being expanded as we go to press—features shrimp, bluepoint oysters, littleneck clams, and chilled lobster, with a gorgeous Hudson River view on the side. Owner Bob Ronan plans to up his oyster selection to include choices from the West Coast as well as the Southern/Gulf areas. Add the pale yellow sunsets, the well-picked wines, and you’ve got yourself an evening to remember.
Ocean House (49 N Riverside Ave, Croton-on-Hudson 914-271-0702) is all about simple and fresh, which is why it’s also known for its lines out the door (no reservations taken). There are at least eight types of oysters on the half shell offered Tuesday through Sunday nights, many of which come from Oregon, Washington, Prince Edward Island, Long Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.
The sleek, high, communal table in the bar area of Ruby’s Oyster Bar & Bistro (45 Purchase St, Rye 914-921-4166; rubysoysterbar.com) offers an up-close and personal view of what other diners have ordered. Which is why, after seeing folks gobble down gorgeous towers overflowing with fleshy oysters and plump lobster, we had to give in. Choose among six different kinds of oysters daily (three East Coast and three West Coast), in addition to clams and shrimp by the piece. The triple tier includes a one-pound chilled lobster, 12 oysters, six shrimp, 12 mussels, and six clams—a fun and favorite starter for large parties.
Still in the works at press time: a raw bar in the area known as The Point at The Boathouse (800 Westerly Rd, Ossining 914-923-6466; ossiningboathouse.com), where you can sit on the pier in a tiki-style setting and enjoy oysters, calms, and shrimp. With the water as your background, there’s honestly nothing better.
Want to have a raw bar catered?
Want to have a raw bar catered? At Mt. Kisco Seafood, which, incidentally, sells a lot more than just fresh fish, you can opt for oysters Rockefeller, clams casino, calamari, and shrimp platters.
(477 Lexington Ave, Mount Kisco 914-241-3113; mtkiscoseafood.com)
Shrimp and crab are two of Jeanne Muchnick’s (jeannemuchnick.com) preferred foods, making this story one of her favorite assignments.