For a classic clam dish, Morgans Fish House serves the best linguine with clam sauce.
You’re either a clam lover or you’re not. At least that’s what I thought. The humble cousins to oysters (the latter seem to get all the fuss—possibly for those aphrodisiac tendencies?), clams come in so many varieties and can be cooked in so many different ways, it’s easy to be fooled. The reality is, lightly fried calms with big, juicy bellies taste nothing like cold briny clams on the half shell, while steamed clams cooked amidst a fusion of spices offer a completely different taste experience than, say, linguine with clam sauce or New England clam chowder. So be adventurous—you may end up as “happy as a clam.”
1) Alba’s Restaurant (400 N Main St, Port Chester 914- 937-2236; albasrestaurant.com) is known for its hearty portions and traditional, Old World offerings. Want a taste of baked clams álla Nonna? The vongole oreganata, with its six servings of clammy goodness, doesn’t disappoint; it’s crunchy on top, with the intense flavors of the sea below.
The ever-meaty razor clam can be found on the tapas menu at 2) Bistro Latino (64 Main St, Tuckahoe, 914-961-2233), where they are steamed against a backdrop of pancetta and saffron broth. Littlenecks also make an appearance in the eatery’s bountiful paella.
Looking for something with a little kick? Try the steamed clams Thai style at 3) Conte’s Fish Market (448 E Main St, Mount Kisco 914-666-3929; contesfish.com). Here, eight clams come marinated with basil, red pepper, and Thai sauce for an Asian flavor that’s hot, sour, savory—and addictive.
Clams take center stage at 4) Eastchester Fish Gourmet’s (837 White Plains Rd, Scarsdale 914-725-3450; eastchesterfish.com) raw bar where you’ll find both cherrystone and littlenecks along with a glistening display of oysters and shrimp. Come on a Thursday night when clams are a dollar apiece (versus $1.25 to $2.95).
The white clam pizza is legendary at 5) The Original Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletano (1955 Central Ave, Yonkers 914- 961-8284; pepespizzeria.com), where olive oil, fresh garlic, oregano, and grated cheese come together for a perfectly balanced magical pie that attracts folks from all across the county (my husband being one of them).
You have your choice of clams à la oreganato, casino, or Posilippo style at 6) La Fontanella Ristorante (115 Wolfs Lane, Pelham 914-738-3008; lafontanellapelham.com) where classic Northern Italian fare is done with precision and finesse.
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Craving some of that summer clam shack vibe? Look no further than 7) Louie & Johnnies Cheese Steaks & Clam Bar (33 Mill Rd, Eastchester 914-771-6161; cheesesteaksclam bar.com) where, amidst an informal luncheonette setting, you can enjoy your choice of littlenecks with drawn butter and their natural juices, or go for a half dozen baked clams casino-style topped with panko bread crumbs, diced red peppers, and bacon. With its open kitchen, you can watch everything being made right in front of you—and call out if you prefer a heavier hand with those peppers or bacon.
An aromatic mixture of flavors defines clams à la Mint at the new location of 8) Mint Premium Foods (19 Main St, Tarrytown 914-703-6511), where, yes, there are now full-service tables in the back for eating. Your Middle Eastern experience starts with a huge bowl filled with Manila clams cooked with saffron broth, French butter, and ale for a dining experience bursting with sundry potent overtures. Make sure to ask for plenty of bread so you can sop up every drop of broth.
There’s nothing more classic than linguine with red or white clam sauce. Yes, it’s simple, but it’s that velvety goodness that makes it so heartwarmingly satisfying. Enjoying a plateful at 9) Morgans Fish House (22 Elm Pl, Rye 914-921-8190; morgansfishhouse.net) is like being transported back to your childhood. Kudos to the excellent pasta to sauce ratio. Just don’t forget the grated parmesan.
Myong’s top-neck clams are served over house-made pasta.
10) Myong Gourmet (487 Main St, Mount Kisco 914-241-6333; plgourmet.com) does everything with global flair in what the restaurant classifies as progressive world cuisine. Company President (and husband of the chef) Rob Feiner loves clams, and so they are always on the menu in some variation, be it steamed clams in white wine, butter, and garlic sauce; New England clam chowder; Manhattan clam chowder; or, in the summer, top necks on the half-shell with a traditional cocktail sauce. The menu changes seasonally, but you usually can find top necks in white wine, shallots, and garlic, topped with micro-cilantro, served over house-made pappardella, or clams casino with white wine and butter topped with applewood smoked bacon. Pure yum!
There’s an interesting story behind the New England clam chowder at 11) The Tavern at Croton Landing (41 N Riverside Ave, Croton-on-Hudson 914-271-8020; thetavernatcroton.com); it’s made by a customer, not the chef. A former banker who’s now retired, Jim Delaney, a local resident, comes in a couple times a week to whip up batches of his famous “Banker’s Chowder.” He’s been doing this for six years to rave reviews, so much so that the restaurant recently had to get a bigger pot to keep up with the orders. It’s rich and hearty and chock full of celery, potatoes, garlic, butter, and other ingredients, including the freshest clams you can find.
The fried clams at 12) Gus’s Franklin Park Restaurant (126 Halstead Ave, Harrison 914-835-9804) include the whole belly, delivering a really moist, really nutty, really crisp dish. Littlenecks, top necks, and cherrystones are also on the menu and though generally served raw, the kitchen is happy to serve them in any variation you prefer. This is, after all, a place that knows seafood, and with its adjacent fish store next door, you can buy whatever you want to go.
Steamed Manila clams in a lightly spiced tomato broth, with linguini, arugula, and olive oil top the favorites at the seafood-centric 13) Goldfish Oyster Bar & Restaurant (6 Rockledge Ave, Ossining 914-762-0051; goldfishdining.com), where clam specials (featuring both raw and cooked clams) are offered throughout the year. Littlenecks are always on the menu, served with flourish in a saffron vinaigrette. Manila clams, known as the sweetest and smallest of the hard-shells, are also served seven days a week and come with a side of linguini in a garlic and oil sauce.
The menu at 14) Toscana (214 Main St, Eastchester 914-361-1119; toscana-ristorante.com) is a whirlwind of Italian seaside cooking where everything is made fresh, including the gorgeously presented vongolette in coccio, littleneck clams sautéed with cannelloni beans and chopped sausage in a spicy tomato broth. Just as divine: the vongole al finocchiello, broiled littlenecks with seasoned breadcrumbs in a wild fennel-lemon sauce. For heartier fare, there’s always the linguine al frutti di mare, the classic Italian dish of linguine with PEI mussels, Manila clams, sea scallops, shrimp, a touch of tomato, and garlic.
You can’t mention clams without a nod to the legendary Greasy Nick’s, real name: 15) Leno’s Clam Bar (755 Pelham Rd, New Rochelle 914-636-5503). Come summer, this roadside stand is big into serving burgers, hot dogs, fries and—you guessed it—clams (both raw and fried).
Interested in a Clambake?
The following bring the clams to you: The Great American BBQ Company (914-686-2277; thegreatamericanbbq.com) Powell Catering (58 Halstead Ave, Harrison 914-381-4843; powellcatering.com); and The Royal Grilling Co. (330 Boston Post Rd, Rye 914-777-2053; royalgrillingco.com).