Shore-to-Table Dining

Summer’s sultry days call for meals with beachy appeal.



 Photo by Heath Robbins

A shellfish lover’s dream dinner at Legal Sea Foods in White Plains

The New England clambake, which traditionally includes a prix-fixe menu of lobster, steamers, mussels, and corn on the cob, evokes images of breezy coastlines, screeching seagulls, and salty seawater. For me, a girl who grew up near the shores of the Chesapeake, it ranks right up there with baseball and peach pie as a summer must. Luckily, there are number of local options—a few with scenic views—meaning you don’t have to travel to New England or even be near a beach to get that fresh-from-the-sea taste. In many cases, these restaurants also cater, turning your backyard into an instant party.

    Wednesday nights are “Lobster Lunacy” at Conte’s Fish Market (448 E Main St, Mount Kisco 914-666-6929; contesfish.com), the fourth generation fish market/restaurant where you get two one-pound Maine lobsters (steamed) along with steamers or mussels, corn on the cob, and coleslaw ($39). Because this is a working fish market, the turnover of product is consistently fresh, offering patrons seafood as close as they can get to right off the boat. The restaurant, which has the ambience of a homespun Cape Cod fish shack, now has a license for beer and wine but you can still bring your own for a $10 corkage fee.

    Sitting under the colorful oars at Day Boat Cafe (1 Bridge St, Irvington 914-231-7854; dayboatcafe.com) already feels a bit Nantucket-ish. Add the summer clambake special—a heaping platter of lobster (one pound), mussels, clams, chorizo, and corn on the cob ($38)­­—and you’ll want to walk by the river post-meal to keep you in
that “shore” state of mind. This is a summer special only so, after Labor Day, you’re out of luck.

    There’s a lively vibe to Morgan’s Fish House (22 Elm Pl, Rye 914-921-8190; morgansfishhouse.net), where the clambake blue-plate special proved so popular last summer, it’s now a year-round staple. Expect a very traditional presentation—in a bag—consisting of a steamed one-pound lobster, littleneck clams, mussels, corn-on-the-cob, roasted new potatoes, and andouille sausage, served with drawn butter ($32).

    You’ll need a lobster bib and nutcracker for the delight that is Legal Sea Foods’ (5 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains 914-390-9600; legalseafoods.com) lobster bake—a substantial assortment of clam chowder, steamers, mussels, chorizo, and a one to one-and-a-quarter-pound lobster ($36.95). The fact that it is a New England-based chain lends an air of authenticity along with its nautical decor.

   Who needs a paper-topped table in Boston when you can dine amidst the thatched umbrellas and gorgeous water views of The Pier Restaurant & Tiki Bar? (1 Playland Pkwy, Rye 914-967-1020; pierrestaurantandtikibar.com) The scenic vista, visible from almost every angle, reminds you why you chose to live in Westchester in the first place. Throw in the eatery’s authentic New England clambake, which includes a one-and-a-half-pound lobster, sweet steamer clams, plump buttered corn, Red Bliss potatoes, succulent mussels, and creamy clam chowder ($32.95), served Monday through Thursday nights, and you’re in seafood heaven. Of special note: Playland has a history of serving clambakes on the pier starting in the 1920s complete with men wearing skimmers (ask owner John Ambrose to show you a photo).

    Underhill’s Crossing (74 1/2 Pondfield Rd, Bronxville 914-337-1200; underhillscrossing.com) recreates the mood of a New England clambake every Tuesday night in the summer with individualized stainless steel pots brought tableside. Inside: a seafood feast of a one-pound lobster, littleneck clams, PEI mussels, jumbo shrimp, sea scallops, corn on the cob, calamari, and new potatoes ($28). The presentation is as fun as the food. Just make sure you go before Labor Day; this is a seasonal special.

Clambakes at Home

Want to experience a longer affair where the wine and beer flow a little more freely? Consider the following caterers:

✱ Eric Korn calls himself a “Cape Cod boy,” thanks to his numerous summers there as a kid. That is why the chef/owner of Good-Life Gourmet, with locations in Irvington and Scarsdale, is not only adept at catering New England clambakes, he’s passionate about them. Prices start at $50 per person; email eric@good-lifegourmet.com or call (914) 338-3476.

The Great American BBQ Company (52 Gedney Way, White Plains 914-686-2277; thegreatamericanbbq.com) is as famous for its catered New England lobster bakes as for its numerous barbecues. Its package includes a variety of extras like jalapeño honey-butter biscuits, fresh sliced watermelon, choice of three salads, and environmentally responsible compostable dinnerware in addition to lobster, littleneck clams, BBQ chicken, cheeseburgers, all-beef hotdogs, baked potatoes, and grilled veggies. A minimum of three staff members priced at $175 each are required in addition to the $59 per person fee.

While Larchmont resident Jeanne Muchnick (jeannemuchnick.com) admits she enjoys the authenticity of a true New England clambake, she’s not into the “beachside spiel” of digging a pit and lining it with glowing rocks. Instead, she’s happy with an easy-to-open meaty lobster, plump mussels, and a cold glass of Chardonnay.