Outside, whole branzino are grilling above a wood-and-charcoal fire. Inside, a fish colored in bright-red and gold scales rides across the room on a bed of ice, crustaceans by its side. You’d swear at any moment the blue crab might grasp a giant prawn from the tray bearing the day’s catch and scuttle for the door. A waiter pauses tableside, fork and spoon poised beside a whole branzino, and begins his spiel.
This is how every guest at Dubrovnik is greeted: presented with a tray of fresh-caught fish and the story of how each can be prepared.
Technically a Croatian restaurant, New Rochelle’s Dubrovnik does seafood in exceptional style with a gentle touch, and a bit of flourish. The grilled octopus gets no salt, yet tastes of its briny sea. Served raw with just a touch of olive oil — from owner Zeljko Tomic’s own Croatian orchards — the scallops are candy-sweet. It’s a secret Tomic pretends he’s trying to keep: Even when they’re served cooked, the scallops here are very rare. The traditional tableside prep isn’t a Caesar but rather salmon or yellowfin tartar. Cooked dishes shine, as well. The risotto, black with ink, is studded with cuttlefish. Order a larger whole fish, and the chef will cook it gill to tail; in addition to the steaks or filets, the chef might make a fish-head soup, for example, for all to share.
Catch This: The Dubrovnik Platter features marinated anchovies, a tender, meaty monkfish carpaccio, and oysters.