Photo by Andre Baranowski
An ocean’s bounty of real catches is waiting at these Westchester restaurants, where oysters, salmon, and other delights abound.
By Andrew Dominick and June Hersh
Saltaire Oyster Bar and Kitchen
Port Chester; saltaireoysterbar.com
No one would fault you for indulging in a Prime tomahawk rib-eye or wrapping both hands around a burger, but Saltaire’s sea bounty has been a “wow” to diners for more than seven years. Their fresh, fancy raw bar, while pricey, is a focal point, display-wise, in their always-busy bar area, and it’s likely your first order of business upon sitting down. Ice-cold jumbo shrimp, clams from Connecticut and Rhode Island, a rotating selection of just-shucked oysters, and chilled lobster are all available by the piece. If your whole seafood-loving entourage is down with ice-cold shellfish, you can all literally slurp in sync as you attack one of Saltaire’s multiperson seafood towers.
Steamers, seasonal catches (think pan-seared soft-shell crab in late spring); butter-poached lobster in a roll, Connecticut style; mussels fra diavolo with white wine broth; and a mixture of whole and filleted fish entrées should give you a good idea of what to expect. Oh, and make sure you order a cocktail, as Saltaire’s bar program is a formidable complement to its ocean fare.
Seafood linguine, red coconut curry Thai shrimp, and baked clams doused in butter sauce should tell you something about Dolphin. It’s a mash-up of Italian, Asian, French, and Mediterranean cuisines. A couple of American classics are thrown into the fray, like a fried chicken sandwich and a homey braised short rib. But make no mistake: This is a sea-based menu where you’ll see crispy flounder and Japanese-influenced salmon tartare dressed with eel sauce, tangerine miso, sesame seeds topped with creamy avocado and under a seaweed salad. If there is a signature dish, it’s Dolphin’s grilled whole branzino. “We clean it right away and infuse it with lemon, fresh herbs, and extra virgin olive oil,” says owner and general manager Jimmy Rugova. “It only needs to be grilled at that point when ordered. It’s a labor of love to eat it with your hands and enjoy every piece of meat you suck off the bones.”
What Dolphin is all about, though, is freshness and sustainability. “We source from the Fulton Fish Market,” says Rugova. “We buy in small amounts that are delivered daily. We buy wild, sustainable fish as much as possible for quality and to make sure we will have fish in the future.”
Dive Oyster House
Briarcliff Manor; diveoysterhouse.com
Raw and cooked bivalves are at the forefront of one of Briarcliff’s latest culinary openings. Chilled East and West Coast oysters, classic crabmeat and shrimp cocktail, and seafood combos made up of clams, oysters, meaty lobster, and shrimp are all a classy, tasty way to begin your dive into Dive’s menu.
Follow up all the refreshing raw bites with bacon-wrapped scallops, crab cakes, or grilled octopus. But if you’re sticking with the shelled seafood theme, there’s a bowl of mussels cooked in white wine and garlic (with crusty country bread for sopping-up purposes), plus baked clams topped with crunchy breadcrumbs, fresh herbs, and garlic sauce, though oyster fanatics may opt to try the grilled version, which get hit with lemon butter and basil.
Brothers Fish & Chips
One restaurant, two concepts — and a virtual tsunami of seafood. The takeout side of Elmer and Kevin Oliveros’ popular restaurant centers around their signature fish ’n’ chips. Choose bass, flounder, shrimp, whiting, or keep it classic with cod. The seasoning in the batter is a secret, but there’s something happening there that’s magic, aside from a light, crispy, fried coating. And the pile of salty, skin-on, hand-cut fries that come alongside it are so addicting, you’ll practically shovel them down by the handful. Other takeout here is all about bright, citrusy ceviches, a fish sandwich, Cali-style battered bass tacos, and crab cakes.
Brothers’ other side is a multicourse tasting priced at $120 per person. This is where the Oliveros brothers ditch the to-go boxes and display beautifully crafted seafood creations that look like they’re straight out of Netflix’s Chef’s Table. What you’ll get on a particular night is anyone’s guess, but being delightfully surprised is part of the fun.
Fin & Brew
Located inside The Factoria at Charles Point, along with River Outpost Brewing Co., is Fin & Brew, one of the finer dining experiences in Peekskill and in Westchester as a whole. Showcased here is seafood prepared with New American flair, with thoughtful, sophisticated takes on comfort food.
Some comforts from Chef Mike Anastacio’s menu include brown butter miso tare ramen with sea scallops, Venetian fish stew, and beer-steamed mussels with smoky bacon. Fin & Brew’s raw bar is a draw, too, with oysters from both coasts, littlenecks, and a bunch of hand-rolled sushi. Anastacio’s menu is also seasonal, and local ingredients are utilized whenever possible.
“The local bounty that comes from the world-renowned Hudson Valley just hits better!” he says. “It has always been easier for me to apply that philosophy to seafood. It’s second nature for me to enjoy soft-shell crabs beginning in the spring, then moving on to warm-weather fish, like mahi-mahi, that flourish in summer months, to toasting the best oysters during months that contain the letter ‘R.’ Nature provides the menu; we run with it!”
Set to celebrate its 30th anniversary next year, Aquario has long been a local go-to for fresh-fish dishes prepared Portuguese style. Owner Manuel Cabral and Head Chef Tony Correia’s menu is full of sautéed, baked, and broiled fillets, as well as strikingly presented whole-roasted branzini, dover sole, and imported Portuguese sardines — an Aquario mainstay — broiled and served with just roasted red peppers.
If that doesn’t remind Lisbon natives and travelers of the country’s capital city, Aquario makes a couple of classic soups that surely will. One is a rustic fisherman’s stew, chock-full of lobster, clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp, and rice to soak up the flavorful broth. The other is a mariscada, a popular soup along Portugal’s coast, that consists of mixed shellfish, tomatoes, and onions in a rich bouillabaisse.
Aquario makes a rustic fisherman’s stew, chock-full of lobster, clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp, and rice to soak up the flavorful broth.
Eastchester Fish Group
Those in the know casually refer to this trifecta of fish businesses as EFG, aka Eastchester Fish Group, an award-winning restaurant, a fish market, and a casual counter-service business. Locals have been purchasing the freshest fish and seafood for more than 40 years at the market, which straddles the Eastchester/Scarsdale border. In 1987, they added a seafood eatery, Eastchester Fish Gourmet, featuring everything from whole-grilled branzino to the freshest oysters and clams, as well as killer risotto and pasta. In 2019, they opened a takeout shop and casual-dining experience known as Go Fish, where you can enjoy a crispy crab cake, poke bowl, or the legendary fish ’n’ chips with hand-cut fries. So, whether you’re planning on cooking your own, grabbing and going, or enjoying a leisurely meal, you’ll be sure to find it at EFG.
Sea Flame Seafood & Steakhouse
A boatload of fresh-catch fare (raw, chilled, grilled, and broiled) dominates half the menu at this strip-mall standout that’s equally revered for its “proper dry-aged steaks found at the best steakhouses,” according to co-owner/general manager Peter Bicaj, who earned his chops as GM of NYC’s Wolfgang’s Steakhouse. A variety of fishes are represented, be it in the raw bar, the hot apps offerings (lump crab cakes, grilled octopus, lobster bisque), the signature chopped salad with shrimp, a whopper of a lobster (3 lbs!), or crabmeat-stuffed shrimp over risotto. Timeless steakhouse sides, like mac ’n’ cheese, pay homage to la mer, with hunks of fresh lobster swimming about the bowl.
Aberdeen Seafood & Dim Sum
White Plains; aberdeenwhiteplains.com
Aberdeen is aptly named for the famous fishing port and harbor in Hong Kong and represents that tradition of fresh seafood proudly, by providing what their owners say is “the finest selection of fresh seafood and authentic Cantonese cuisine.” Expect assorted dim sum; steamed fresh fish, hand-selected on-site; plus traditional vegetable, meat, and poultry dishes (the dim sum has been ranked by Westchester Magazine readers as best in the county for four years). Accessed through the Marriott White Plains lobby, be sure to dine in or take out favorites such as sizzling jumbo shrimp with ginger and scallions; scallop with black pepper sauce; salt and pepper soft-shell crab, or (for the more adventurous) squid with black bean sauce. You’ll be transported to Hong Kong, no passport necessary.
Kee Oyster House
White Plains; keeoysterhouse.com
You might not know, but long before New York was known for everything bagels and Nathan’s franks, it was the capital of oyster obsession. Kee Oyster House is bringing that 100-year-old tradition back in style with a menu that features both East and West Coast oysters, served on a sky-high tower, grilled to perfection, baked Italian style, topped with spinach, as in oysters Rockefeller, or done NOLA style in a po’ boy. If oysters are not your thing, fear not, as you can dip your calamari in chili aioli, smother your fish tacos in pico de gallo, or sip your clams in a rich chowder broth. If you prefer your “fish” with four legs, then try a double-cut pork chop or dry-rubbed Prime sirloin. Owner Elvi Hoxhaj says the goal is introduce “modern culinary trends while remaining true to history on the half shell.” History never tasted so good.
Purdy’s Farmer & The Fish/ Hudson Farmer & the Fish
North Salem/ Sleepy Hollow; farmerandthefish.com
Farmer & the Fish’s two restaurants are your quintessential farm-to-table (or perhaps, more accurately, fish-to-fork) neighborhood restaurant no matter where your actual neighborhood is. It is a collaboration between a fishmonger and a chef who studied agriculture, and the results speak volumes. Every menu prominently lists the greens and herbs that were picked that day and incorporated into their expertly prepared seasonal dishes. Owner Michael Kaphan feels the most important thing in a fish restaurant is “to provide great quality while focusing on sustainability and supporting your local fishermen.” If you’re lucky, you’ll savor a bacon rib the day it was smoked on-site or lick the bowl clean of the cheddar mashed potatoes that accompany the perfectly fried Amish chicken. A real treat is dining on the front porch in North Salem, viewing their tiered garden with a cold cocktail to wash down the thickest, clammiest chowder you’ll ever taste. Or, enjoy a full raw bar overlooking the Hudson River at their Sleepy Hollow outpost. Be sure to close out the night with their divine bread pudding and salted caramel ice cream, worth every calorie.
Bread & Brine
Next time you find yourself enjoying the majestic views from MacEachron Waterfront Park, end your relaxing day with a seafood extravaganza at Bread & Brine. There you can go old school, with a chunky lobster roll, or try an ooey-gooey lobster grilled cheese. The vibe is casual comfort food, assuming you find straight-from-the-dock seafood comforting. Not to be ignored are the sidekicks, like blistered shishito peppers or streetwise corn on the cob rolled in pecorino with a squeeze of lime. If you come super-hungry, be sure to sample the perfect-storm basket, filled to the brim with beer-battered shrimp, fried clams, calamari, and fries. Landlubbers can join in with the signature Korean Fried chicken sandwich. Both spicy and crunchy, it’s the real deal.
Ocean House Oyster Bar and Grill
Ocean House is a true love story between owners Brian and Paula Galvin and their aﬃnity for each other and delectable seafood. In 2004, they resurrected the 1920s historic Bixler Diner, which, Paula says, “needed some love, and we felt the neighborhood was conducive to the kind of restaurant we wanted to do.” This haven for New England Seafood is led in the kitchen by their talented chef/owner, who is reinventing classics like a cassoulet, melding shrimp with chorizo, beans, and copious amounts of garlic, or mac ’n’ cheese dreamily made with Maine crab and a drizzle of white truﬄe oil. Blackboard specials include the fresh oysters of the day as well as creative apps and sumptuous desserts. An excellent way to nab a table is to call after 4:30 p.m. for a same-day reservation, or if you’re on the go, you can order the Oh2Go beach boxes, perfect when you crave the waves.
Conte’s Fish Market and Restaurant
Mount Kisco; contesfish.com
If you are looking for your seafood dinner in a restaurant not much bigger than your kitchen, with your chef selecting your piece of fish right before your eyes from a display that rivals what you might find at The New Fulton Fish Market, then look no further than this 70-year-old Mount Kisco landmark. The Conte family have been fishmongers since 1894, so they know a thing or two (million) about how to select the freshest fish. A handful of tables dot the interior of this venerable fish market, where you can sit counter-side and enjoy the simple pleasure of a perfectly prepared salmon filet or Florida red snapper. Feeling steamy? Try the steamers for two or the tomatoey cioppino. This is home cooking at its best, and when you’re a guest at Conte’s, you feel as if they are cooking just for you.
WHEN YOU’RE A GUEST AT CONTE’S YOU FEEL THEY ARE COOKING JUST FOR YOU.