There are eateries that combine the traditional and the innovative, too. When you're casting for a winner, consider these dependable establishments that specialize in fish and shellfish - one for each of the seven seas.
Fiddleheads , 62 South St., Oyster Bay; 516-922-2999. An "American fish house & grill," Fiddleheads prepares seafood with skill and imagination. Try the grilled seafood salad, five-spice seasoned tuna, the surf-and-turf union of grilled flatiron steak and sauteed skate wing, grilled swordfish with banana salsa, and crisp soft-shell crabs finished with a bacon vinaigrette. Conclude with a slice of six-layer coconut cake.
George Martin's Coastal Grill, 40 E. Park Ave., Long Beach; 516-432-2690. Colorful and energetic, George Martin's Coastal Grill updates the old-style fish house. The food is reliable and full-flavored. Standouts include the seafood-chorizo gumbo, monkfish "saltimboccam" shellfish hot pot, lobster-enriched macaroni and cheese, an East Coast riff on cioppino, shrimp cocktail, and mussels in almost any guise.
H2O , 215 W. Main St. Smithtown; 631-361-6464. H2O is a contemporary fish house. You can savor spiced "millennium" lobster, grilled or broiled finfish, or be a purist and revel in the sizable rolls from the creative sushi bar.
Inlet Seafood , 541 East Lake Dr., Montauk; 631-668-4272. Tucked away near land's end, Inlet Seafood definitely is a find. It's also a friendly, summery place, with a water view and tasty dishes including sushi rolls, fluke seviche, jumbo crab cakes, grilled finfish, and lobster salad.
The Jolly Fisherman , 25 Main St., Roslyn; 516-621-0055. The traditional spot has been here since 1957. It continues to impress with Dover sole meuniere, shellfish cocktails, chowders, lobsters and fine service.
Paddy McGee's , 6 Waterview Rd., Island Park; 516-431-8700. Here's a casual, waterside spot, consistent and to the point. The raw bar is very good. Equally recommended are the New England and Manhattan chowders; crab cakes; skillet-roasted day boat scallops; shellfish cocktails; and lobsters, steamed or broiled.
The Plaza Cafe , 61 Hill St., Southampton; 631-283-9323. Elegant and excellent, The Plaza Cafe stars with dishes such as shepherd's pie made with lobster; the grilled swordfish "chop"; herb-crusted Chatham Bay cod; prosciutto-wrapped shrimp with porcini mushroom risotto; the tuna-and-crab tian with avocado puree; spring pea soup; and strawberry-rhubarb crisp. For the carnivore: duck three ways - sliced breast, foie gras bread pudding and confit of leg.
Riverbay , 700 Willis Ave., Williston Park; 516-742-9191. This restaurant recently was refurbished. It reopened better than before, in style and on the plate. Service is very good. And you'll enjoy the grilled Dover sole, plump crab cakes, crisp fried calamari, "colossal" shrimp with crabmeat, sesame-crusted tuna, shellfish cocktails, the sushi selections, and, yes, hanger steak, too. The restaurant now accepts reservations.