Almost as soon as he opened his Kings Park restaurant, Relish, Steve Cardello started thinking about another project. The former executive chef at Legal Sea Foods in Huntington Station always had something fishy in mind. Then the space at 112 Main St. -- which had been a fish market for decades -- opened up when Jesse James Seafood went out of business.
That was the signal for Cardello and his partner, Don Brown, to go to work. Brown, a contractor, gutted the store and refitted it with reclaimed brick, stainless steel and a countertop made from a sycamore tree.
Cardello's focus is on local and sustainably fished seafood. He prefers to bring in whole fish because they keep better "on the bone." He'll happily fillet anything on request, but he's been gratified by how many customers have taken home whole Icelandic arctic char to grill or American red snappers to roast.
If cod's not looking good at the market, he'll explain to customers why pollock or hake are better bets. He does not sell tilapia or basa or swai because he has not found purveyors who can assure him that they were farmed and handled responsibly.
Cardello's kitchen crew will cook up anything in the store "as long as you're willing to wait for it." Figure on spending $3 to $6 more than the per-pound price, depending on the preparation and which sides you choose.
There's a full line of prepared foods too, including crabcakes ($13.99 for two), lobster rolls ($17.99 each), fish tacos ($13.99 for three), and a fantastic white clam chowder that's smoky and clammy and not in the least gloppy ($16.99 a quart).
The Reel Kitchen
112 Main St., Kings Park, 631-460-4175