Seafood is the great meeting ground of culinary preferences, the foodstuff where all tastes converge. Need a restaurant to please a big crowd? Seafood serves the purpose. Need a place where the scarf ranges from a bland white filet (perfect for dyspeptics) to a quivering raw oyster squirted with lemon and tabasco (perfect for the iron-stomached)? Seafood serves the purpose. And today–what with omega this and omega that–seafood has donned the cloak of healthfulness.
But while seafood makes us happy, the seafood is often unhappy. That paragon of the sushi bar, bluefin tuna, has been fished almost out of existence, and it’s the rare foodie who’s not keeping an eye on one sustainable seafood list or another. We prefer the ones provided by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. But is it our fate to look down at a seafood menu in a decade, and see only farmed fish, many of them unspeakably skanky and tainted with additives? And, when I kiss you after a seafood meal, will you have the super-abundant jellyfish on your breath?
In spite of looming problems, seafood is one of the foods Fork in the Road craves the most–whether grilled, fried, poached, or made into a salad. Every nationality has its own favorite preparation methods, and our list therefore includes Greek, Chinese, Egyptian, Yankee, and New American places, at prices that range from dirt cheap to faintingly expensive. So, whether you crave raw oysters, or a fish filet frankly fried into oblivion, forge onward for our lists.
To accommodate a suggestion that we present the list more dramatically, we begin with the Runners-up, and progress to the top five.
Without visible signage, this cryptic entrance leads the way to one of our top 10, but which one? See last page for answer.
Gorgeous iced catch of the day on display in the window at Asmak Taama, # 8 among the runners-up.
Here are the Runners-up to Our 10 Best Seafood Restaurants, in order of preference:
Harbour, 290 Hudson Street, 212-989-6410; Pacifica, 4418 Eighth Avenue, Sunset Park, Brooklyn; Bahry Fish Market & Restaurant, 484 Bay Ridge Avenue, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, 718-680-8135; Le Bernardin, 155 West 51st Street, 212-554-1515; Flex Mussels, 174 East 82nd Street, 212-717-7772; London Lennie’s, 63-88 Woodhaven Boulevard, Woodhaven, Queens, 718-894-8084; Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar, 101 Second Avenue, 212-253-7848; Asmak Taama, 413 Bay Ridge Avenue, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, 718-821-3200; Shaffer City, 5 West 21st Street, 212-255-9827; Masa, 10 Columbus Circle, 212-823-9800; Stamatis, 3114 Broadway, Astoria, Queens, 718-204-8964; Randazzo’s, 2023 Emmons Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-615-0010; BLT Fish, 21 West 17th Street, 212-691-8888; Ping’s, 83-02 Queens Boulevard, Elmhurst, Queens, 718-396-1238; Umberto’s, 2356 Arthur Avenue, Belmont, The Bronx, 718-220-2526
Next: numbers six through 10
Local Widow’s Hole oysters, seeded right off Long Island, are one of more than two dozen types available raw at #8, the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station.
Here are numbers six through ten. But wait a minute! They’re numbered five through nine, which means there must be a tie among the top five:
5. Oceana, 55 East 54th Street, 212-759-5941
6. Suez Canal, 117 Tonnele Avenue, Jersey City, NJ, 201-333-5305
7. Yiasou, 2003 Emmons Avenue, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, 718-332-6064
8. The Oyster Bar, Grand Central Station, Lower Level, 212-490-6650
9. A Taste of Seafood, 59 East 125th Street, 212-831-5584
You can’t beat the fried porgy at #9 on our list, Harlem’s A Taste of Seafood.
For lovers of raw fish, Venetian style, nothing could be lovelier than the crudo appetizer at Esca, #3 on our list. Click to make life-size.
And here are our top five seafood places in town:
1. The John Dory, 85 Tenth Avenue, 212-929-4948
2. (tie) Pearl Oyster Bar, 18 Cornelia Street, 212-691-8211
Mary’s Fish Camp, 64 Charles Street, 646-486-2185
3. Esca, 402 West 43rd Street, 212-564-7272
4. Kuruma Zushi, 7 E 47th Street, 2nd Floor, 212-317-2802
Didn’t see your favorite seafood place on our list? Please tell us about it.
Answer to the quiz on page 1: Picture shows the anonymous entrance to The John Dory.