Pop's Seafood Shack & Grill
15 Railroad Place Island Park, NY 516-432-7677
THE SEATING - Wear your flip-flops to this splashy new seafood spot on Reynolds Channel, where there's seating for 32 on the beach at four private cabanas in the sand. Nearby is a fire-pit lounge with seating for 70. There's also rain-or-shine seating for 100 on a deck with a retractable canopy.
THE EATING - Chef Axell Urrutia (formerly of Cannon's Blackthorn in Rockville Centre and The Palm Restaurant in Manhattan) turns out a New American fish-focused menu with such dishes as a seafood pineapple canoe, sesame ahi tuna lollipops, three types of lobster rolls, applewood-grilled wild salmon, plus fish and chips, the hand-cut Belgian frite style. For dessert: a banana split and a chocolate "pizza."
Pop's Seafood Shack & Grill is perched at a marina on the Island Park side of the Long Beach Bridge. Summery enough. But, just to make sure, the casual restaurant has brought in enough sand between eatery and water to create a beachy scene complete with boldly colored Adirondack chairs. Relax, digest, warm your toes. Pop's is that kind of spot, where the dining is informal, the selections familiar and the music ongoing. You may dine inside or out. On a sunny afternoon, the wood deck beckons. At night, the string lights overhead add to the effect. Before you start daydreaming and designing little castles, nibble on some chicken wings or guacamole and chips. And contemplate the lobster roll in three versions. Best is the basic, warm lobster, New England variety, meaty and glistening from clarified butter, served on a toasted and buttered potato roll. Competition comes from the crunchy fish-and-chips, made with cod. To ensure crispness all-around, have Tater Tots instead of the fries, which turn limp fast. The crabcakes are pretty mild, boosted with either toasted coconut and pineapple salsa or, in a sandwich, with apple-smoked bacon and an avocado riff on aioli. Pop's sends out plenty of burgers, including a stuffed one with jalapeños, blue cheese, bacon and fried tomato; and a surf-turf number capped with crab salad. Your call. The house's "Chicago style" hot dog won't transport you to the Windy City's Hot Doug's or Murphy's Red Hots. But it's long, has some bite and allows ample time in the sandbox.