It could be easy to miss Ocean House, tucked across from Route 9 in Croton, but that would be a mistake. Even on a Tuesday, the intimate seafood restaurant thrums with activity. Bottles of wine recline in an ice bucket behind a little four-seat bar, and guests gaze intently at the chalkboard covered in specials.
Chef-owner Brian Galvin may have been producing some of Westchester’s best seafood here for 13 years, yet the dishes express a youthful energy. From the specials list, both calamari and octopus are treated gently — grilled, not fried, to retain their flavor. The octopus, with its slightly crunchy exterior and perfectly tender interior, is typically dressed only in a drizzle of olive oil, although on a May evening it appeared with chickpeas and a salsa verde. Chickpeas and a wonderfully rich broth make the shrimp cassoulet more reminiscent of a Provençal seafood stew. Scallops get a gentle touch — a quick sear and a light saucing — and their sweetness shines through. Sides here, such as mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach, are a bit standard, but you’re not here for the sides; you’re here for the whole orata, the crab-stuffed trout, and the Cajun-spiced catfish topped with bright jalapeño and surrounded by a perfect andouille mustard cream.
Catch This: The grilled calamari is so shockingly tender that if it’s making an appearance on the specials board, it has to be experienced.