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Chef Mike Price has always loved clams. “I grew up in Maryland, and while steamers and hard clams were not as prevalent as they are in Massachusetts or Long Island, I gained a healthy love of seafood,” he explains. And while he could find restaurants dedicated to other childhood favorites like oysters, lobsters, and crab, he felt that “clams haven’t had their day yet,” at least not in a restaurant more upscale than a seafood shack. And so the chef, who co-owns Market Table with the Little Owl’s Joey Campanaro, began putting together plans for The Clam (420 Hudson Street, 212-242-7420), a clam-dedicated West Village restaurant that, most decidedly, is not a shack.
“We wanted to take that same style of service from Market Table and Little Owl and put that into this restaurant,” Price explains. Some finishes at the new spot, he says, are higher end — you’ll find tablecloths here, for instance, and a ceiling covered in mother of pearl. But he stresses that as with the other two eateries, which are located just a few blocks from this new one, The Clam will strive to be unpretentious. So not a shack, but not Le Bernardin, either.
As for the food, well, expect clam-centric dishes: “We serve them on the half shell, fry them, and put them in sandwiches,” says Price. “We’re doing surf clams, steamers, littlenecks, topnecks, and cherrystones.” In the winter, he says, it’s hard to get razor clams because it’s too cold to dive for them, but you can expect to see those, too, when the weather warms up a bit. Other than that, he says, clams are a year-round food.
Price highlights one dish, in particular, which he says is getting a lot of positive feedback from diners: “We’re doing a spaghetti dish that’s out of this world — people are freaking out over it. It’s basically a spicy clam gravy and homemade spaghetti, and we have clams in the shell plus chopped clams in the sauce. Usually you just get one or the other, either in the shell or chopped. We finish it with an arugula, peppercress, scallion, and lemon-dressed salad on top.”
The menu pairs to a drinks program that features twists on classic cocktails, an old world-centric wine list, wine on tap, and draft and bottled beers.
The Clam officially opened its doors for dinner on Tuesday night; Price says it’ll add lunch and brunch in a couple of months. In the meantime, the restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 5 until 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. until midnight.