H2O Seafood and Sushi review

Fried oysters are served on the half shell Fried oysters are served on the half shell with remoulade sauce at H2O Seafood & Sushi restaurant in Smithtown. Photo Credit: Alessandro Vecchi

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REVIEW

H2O Seafood & Sushi hits the high-water mark.

The updated H2O Seafood Grill is a very satisfying remake, with a bigger emphasis on the uncooked. Under chef Wayne Cafariella, it seems fresh and new, with added oxygen.

H2O's appointments still suggest a bright, coastal, Long Island-via-New England look in the main dining room, with marine images everywhere. The sushi section has a sleeker, more contemporary style, and more noise. But what's served in both is very good, often better.

Cafariella is the current successor to Michael Meehan, whose fine-tuned fare defined H2O for many years. Cafariella and company build on that. H2O is a member of the Bohlsen Restaurant Group, which includes Prime in Huntington and Tellers in Islip.

Warm popovers arrive. And you'll still enjoy the New England-style clam chowder, finished with applewood-smoked bacon. Crisp and sweet fried oysters with sauce rémoulade keep to tradition, too. Likewise, generous shellfish cocktails.

Clams casino royale need not be served with a Vesper martini. They include bacon, red pepper and an herb crust, and require only a squirt of lemon. The routine shrimp-and-lobster wontons, however, could use a double-0 intervention.

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Sushi bar starters such as the deftly designed spicy tuna crispy rice sliders, with crunch and flair; and the king crab "klub," with spicy tuna vying with the namesake shellfish, both are clever and pleasing choices.

They improve on the Japanese cowboy roll, with barbecued Kobe beef, lobster, avocado, yuzu mayo and eel sauce -- excess rather than success. The simpler sushi rolls underscore why less is more. And a straightforward sashimi platter has the most appeal.

Bohlsen restaurants must alternate offering "millennium lobster." It's H2O's turn. The excellent lobster is dusted with spiced flour and sauteed, then set on mashed potatoes. Equally recommended: the generous lobster bake, with clams, corn, potatoes and andouille sausage. H2O also offers professionally steamed lobster. And the kitchen's lobster-enriched macaroni and cheese is one of the few renditions that work.

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Hazelnut-Parmesan-crusted swordfish, with a lemongrass beurre blanc, leads the finfish, followed a bit by the "everything" crusted tuna, and well ahead of the whole branzino with tomatoes, fennel and butter sauce.

For the contrarian, there's a summery combination of fried chicken and chile-dusted seedless watermelon; for the reckless, filet mignon Wellington with Brie fondue.

Conclude with crème brûlée, or zeppole-inspired doughnuts, which are sure to keep you afloat.

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