Eat Now: “S” is for Summer & Seafood


There’s nothing quite like summer in the city— in fact, the promise of warm nights, endless rosé and meal after meal of fresh seafood is pretty much what gets us through the other nine months of the year. That being said, whether it be an under-the-radar ceviche bar or a meal by docked boat, here are the seafood spots that hold a special place in our hearts and in our contributors’ too.


1. ZZ’s Clam Bar: Go Big or Go Home
The Torrisi brothers seldom do things wrong and what they’ve done with ZZ’s is just so, so right.  From the suited bouncer and twelve-seat space to the bespoke cocktails (particularly a rum iced coffee with coconut cream) and stellar seafood, you’ll feel like you’ve just snuck into the coolest, most exclusive party in town. The tuna and uni toasts are heaven, the seared scallops divine and the tuna carpaccio with foie gras and bone marrow sinful. If it weren’t for the hefty prices (think $20 cocktails), we’d be here all the time. Reserve it for those, “Go big or go home” nights. (MAP IT, BOOK IT)
*Recommended by Alison Chemla, Jay Godfrey and Indre Rockefeller.


2. Navy: Hip and Light
Between its nautically-tiled raw bar, indie waitstaff and daily written menu, Navy feels fun and different as soon as you step inside. Our suggestion is to go with a group of girlfriends and order a bunch to share— though the menu is always-changing, the scallop ceviche, chili squid with tahini and mussel toast are standouts, as are veggie-centric sides like charred cabbage with sweet potato and yogurt and beets with salsa verde, ricotta and almonds. There’s a “secret” off-menu burger for any friend who doesn’t like seafood too, but then again, does such a friend even exist? (MAP IT, BOOK IT)
*Recommended by Carly Cushnie and Lele Sadoughi.


3. Desnuda: Under-the-Radar Ceviche
There’s no better ceviche bar in this city than Desnuda. From salmon with lime, mango and bell peppers to jumbo lump blue crab with mission fig and lemon basil cream, this Latin American hideaway (it’s just wide enough for bar seating) is where we come when we want to feel like we’re on any island other than Manhattan. A bottle of the Chilean Chardonnay plus fresh seafood plus truffle-scented popcorn (its Desnuda’s gratis amuse) is pretty much as good as it gets. The wine-only East Village location is our go-to, but the newer Williamsburg outpost serves up a mean Caipirinha and Negroni. (MAP IT)
*Recommended by CITIPHILE.


4. The Leadbelly: Oysters
From the guys behind The Fat Radish, The Leadbelly is a retro-feeling oyster den with live music— which ranges from reggae to DJ sets— and a vinyl collection that’d make any flower child proud. Whether you can make it in time for the daily happy hour or not (oysters are $1.50 from 5:30-7 pm), the rotating selection of oysters is always fresh and there are small plates like a kale caesar, scotch eggs, deviled brussel sprouts and a cheese plate too. In terms of libations, Leadbelly’s “Huddie’s Potion (Tequila, Mezcal, Celery Juice, Lime and Black Pepper) is a CITIPHILE favorite. (MAP IT, BOOK IT)
*Recommended by Gia Ghezzi and Brooke German, Pari Ehsan and Scott Morrison.


5. Taverna Kyclades: Greek for a Steal
There are several spots in the city for amazing Greek food, but said spots usually come with a heavy price tag. This is not the case with Taverna Kyclades. Originally a Queens-based restaurant, Kyclades opened an East Village outpost two years ago and it’s since been our go-to for great Greek on a budget. The grilled octopus, whole branzino and red snapper are excellent, and (like any good Greek place), the portions are generous. You won’t need more than three plates and a side for two hungry people… besides that bottle or two of Assyrtiko. (MAP IT)
*Recommended by CITIPHILE.


6. Esca: Coastal Italian
For summer nights that find you in Midtown West, you can thank the universe for Esca. A Mario Batali enterprise, the seafood restaurant is known for its crudo— choose between options like sockeye salmon, toro and razor clams, or opt for the tasting and try six. Unlike other seafood spots, your meal doesn’t have to be on the lighter side either; Batali’s pastas including a lobster spaghetti and crab maccheroni are heavy on flavor and on satisfaction. (MAP IT, BOOK IT)
*Recommended by CITIPHILE.


7. The Clam: New England in New York
Right on Hudson in the West Village, The Clam is the perfect place for when you and your partner are vibing on seafood in a quiet setting. But, what would you expect from the people who brought you the date night standby, The Little Owl? The space is white, airy and summery— the kind of spot that could easily be in the Hamptons or along the Cape— and the sidewalk seating is charming. Of their namesake dishes, the clam dip with zesty potato chips, steamers in butter and broth and fried clam and lobster sliders are the way to go; otherwise, the shrimp cocktail with avocado and tortilla chips and the sautéed cod. End the meal with their gingerbread ice cream sammie— lovers who share, care. (MAP IT, BOOK IT)
*Recommended by CITIPHILE.


8. Harlow: Seafood with a Scene
Posh and lively, Harlow is best enjoyed on a sexy date night or dinner with friends. It’s about as far south as the well-heeled Upper East Siders will travel and you can be certain you will see quite a few while you’re here. Go for the oysters, hamachi tartare and catch of the day, then move over to the bar for a few martinis and people watching. (MAP IT, BOOK IT)
*Recommended by Ann Caruso.


9. Grand Banks: Seafood with a View
What’s better than champagne and oysters? How about champagne and oysters on a boat as you watch the sun set over the Hudson River? Unlike other boat restaurants, Grand Banks’ food  is elegant and its crowd tame. There are East and West Coast oysters, appetizers like burrata with Chianti-marinated beets and an elevated lobster roll with pickles, herbs, lemon and fennel. Come for the view; stay for the food and the drinks. (MAP IT)
*Recommended by CITIPHILE.


10. Lobster Joint: Lobster Rolls
Fresh lobster in a griddled bun on a picnic table a.k.a. the way it should be. Whatever your style— we prefer the warm, buttery CT, but the ME version with celery and herb mayo is nice tooLobster Joint does it well, and for $17 for the roll, chips, salad and a pickle, it’s one of the better deals in town. (MAP IT)
*Recommended by CITIPHILE.

11. Maison Premiere: Bacchanalian Feast
Maison Premiere’s “La Grande Plateau” is the stuff of a seafood lover’s “last meal” dreams— think layers of oysters, clams, crab, lobster, scallops, shrimp, sea urchin and caviar. With seasonal crudo and grilled fish plates (we’re currently pining for its red snapper with ramps, clams and star anise), a gorgeous backyard garden and one of the better cocktail programs around, this Williamsburg restaurant is everything summer Friday and Saturday nights should be. (MAP IT, BOOK IT)
*Recommended by Amy Smilovic, Chelsea Leyland and Britt Maren.



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