The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.
It’s less than a mile from the Nautical Mile, but Pier 95 is a world away from Long Island’s most boisterously notorious waterside bar scene. Located alongside Freeport’s tranquil Hudson Canal, the 11-year-old restaurant exudes a sense of gracious, subdued calm.
That calm came after quite a storm: In October, Sandy almost destroyed the restaurant. The unanticipated renovation that followed, however, has left Pier 95 in tiptop shape — freshly painted, furnished and decorated.
Like most waterside restaurants, Pier 95 focuses on seafood — but it does so with a Portuguese twist. Owner Ramiro Santos and chef Manuel Fernandes were born in Portugal, and their menu is infused with the gutsy, simple fare of their Iberian homeland.
Before I even glanced at the menu I was transported by Pier 95’s dense, moist broa (Portuguese bread) and a glass of lightly effervescent Vinho Verde. These proved worthy accompaniments to a first course of octopus, braised into tenderness and bathed in paprika, garlic and good olive oil. (The bread came in handy when the octopus was finished.)
After such a generous appetizers, I opted for another starter: croquettes made from dried codfish (the indestructible Portuguese staple, bacalhau, which no doubt enabled Magellan to circumnavigate the globe). Beautifully fried, and garnished with frizzled leeks and sitting in a puddle of tomato-herb sauce, they were much more delicate, but no less delicious, than the octopus.
Pier 95 is at 95 Hudson Ave., Freeport, 516-379-9898, pier95.com.