Over a plate of fresh Maine lobster that they brought back to the city themselves, husband-and-wife duo Ralph Gorham and Susan Povich wondered aloud, “Why doesn’t someone in New York start a fresh-seafood business?” Their destiny as restaurateurs was realized the moment those words were uttered: they opened Red Hook Lobster Pound a mere six months later. Gorham began traveling to Maine every weekend, scoping out catches and making deals with fisherman, choosing only those that partook in environmentally sustainable practices. Meanwhile, Povich experimented with recipes in order to add to an already lengthy repertoire of lobster-based recipes she learned while growing up in the Northeast. Word of mouth helped spark interest in their eatery, and before long, the demand compelled them to expand their storefront to include a picnic-style dining room. They’ve even added a food truck––nicknamed "Big Red"––that brings lobster-based dishes to diners across the city. According to The New York Times, success has had little effect on Red Hook Lobster Pound’s menu: “It tastes as fresh as can be, which matters when you’re dealing with a trend that’s growing so fast.” Their lobster rolls—served on split-top buns and garnished with just enough homemade mayo—have been lauded by Zagat, Bloomberg News, and Gourmet.com. Other popular dishes include lobster bisque, lobster mac-n-cheese, and a lobster dinner, served with homemade coleslaw, potato salad, and fresh, lake-caught corn.
Verde on Smith, like a book without a dust cover, presents a whole world beyond what its simple exterior portrays. Past the restaurant's façade—marked solely by a black canopy—a slew of dark-stained wood tables line up against an exposed brick wall. Small wall sconces light intimate tables for four and an adjacent bar. Behind that bar, backlit bottles of top-shelf liquors and wines sit on glass shelves elegantly framed by wood grain that matches the stain hue of the bar. These tones permeate the rest of the restaurant, from the floor and the chairs to the rich wood of the halo-style chandelier.
The decor as a whole, including the pressed-tin ceiling, creates a pictorial elegance worthy of a Victorian painting—it even extends to the back patio, where sprawling black umbrellas present a paradox: you can go outside and still feel like you're inside. That's because cabin-style wood walls circumscribe the brick patio, and they reach all the way up to the edges of the umbrellas.
The restaurant's menu presents a depth of taste equal to the standard set by the decor. Its three pillars are pasta, seafood, and meat. Servings of gnocchi al dente with sausage and broccoli rabe represent the fresh-pasta part of the food roster. The kitchen staff prepares cuts of filet mignon paired with sautéed mushrooms to showcase the menu's carnivorous merits, whereas their lobster feast includes half a lobster, baked clams, shrimp, and corn on the cob, satisfying the state requirement of serving at least one dish with the word "cob" in it.
Behind a counter of steaming vegetables and homespun side dishes, Bed-Stuy Fish Fry's cooks grill and deep-fry a menu of pan-regional comfort foods to order. Equally adept at battering catfish and roasting pans of meatloaf, the cooks weight down plates with a host of blackened, barbecued, and broiled meats that parade around palates with Southern-style sides, including collard greens and potato salad. The sounds of sizzling fish mix in with spirited conversation as guests settle into the dining room, surrounded by sage-green walls made homey by white molding and framed mirrors. Additionally, a handful of outdoor tables nestles beneath the restaurant's brown awning, where guests dine alfresco or taunt the sun with their ability to eat things.
Specializing in authentic Greek cuisine, Agnanti proffers the traditional tastes of Astoria’s rich Hellenes community with tender seafood, piquant appetizers, and bold entrees that incorporate a flourish of Turkish influence. Satisfy herbivores with fasolia plaki, oven-baked lima beans with vegetables and herbs ($6), or please pescatarians with baccalao skordalia, fried codfish with garlic mashed potatoes ($9). Meaty specialties include pastroumali, thinly sliced pieces of dried, pressed beef combined with cheese and wrapped in a flaky phyllo pastry onesie ($9), and yogurtlu kebab, savory patties of ground meat served on pita bread with yogurt and tomato sauce ($11).
Aqualis serves up eclectic lunch and dinner dishes focused on Mediterranean flavors, and everything is prepared using fresh, local ingredients. Experienced chef John Tsakinas visits fish markets every morning, using a fisheye lens to scope the plumpest cod, softest scallops, and saltiest salmon for his creations. Lunchers can avail themselves of Tsakinas' expertise with a salmon burger moisturized in a yogurt cucumber spread and served with a mixed-greens salad ($12), or opt for the veggie frittata, an egg dish textured with mixed vegetables and gruyere cheese ($10). Evening eaters may enjoy an appetizer of olive-oiled octopus with capers and red wine vinegar ($11), which flows into a succulent lamb-chop entree backed by a chorus of hand-cut fries ($22). Gobble the delicious fare while sitting amid the softly illuminated brick walls, dark wood furnishings, and antique accents that characterize the aesthetic at Aqualis.
Normally, you might feel embarrassed to show up at a restaurant where everyone is wearing the same outfit as you––but not at Crab Spot Restaurant. Here, everyone dons the house bib before cracking into the juicy crab legs, and it's a good thing too. The bibs are very necessary, as the four styles of crab—Alaskan king, dungeness, snow, and crab royale—are plucked out of the sea early every morning, and likely to cause a feeding frenzy amongst those who appreciate fresh seafood.
Of course, you can always go the classy route and use a knife and fork to dig into baked dishes such as blue crab cakes or turn your bib into a cute bow tie for your shrimp-stuffed dungeness crab. Or, try one of the other seafood specialties such as grilled Norwegian salmon in a rum butter glaze, or Louisiana-style peel-and-eat shrimp steamed in beer. But for a true cross-section of the ocean's briny bounty, you'll want to dig into one of the mixed seafood mixed pots where lobster, shrimp, mussels, and crab are steamed together with a choice of seasonings.