Plates! Glasses! Credit cards! Could this possibly be Artie’s?
Island Park’s great seafood restaurant and market, which lasted a year and a half after its founder, Artie Hoerning, died suddenly in 2017, has been resurrected in style.
The market, which opened in 1974, was scruffy (though immaculate) in the manner of many great, old-fashioned fish markets. The restaurant, added 25 years later, evinced Long Island’s starkest disconnect between food quality and amenities: Plates and glasses were plastic, payment was cash only and the less said about the carpet in the dining room the better.
Of course, fans of Artie’s were more than happy to put up with such shortcomings because of Artie himself and his peerless wares. When he died, I wrote in the Newsday obituary, "If it had to do with seafood, Artie Hoerning had mastered it. For 33 years, Artie’s has been one of Long Island’s best fish markets. To say that it focuses on local fish is an understatement: its specialty has been fish hooked, netted or trapped by Hoerning — with assists from the community of Nassau County fishermen who regard the store as their informal clubhouse. In 1999, Hoerning opened an adjoining restaurant that, despite its extreme modesty … is Nassau County’s most dependable source of fresh, local fish in season."
After Artie died, his daughters, Cara Lee Hoerning Filomio and Christina Hoerning, kept the business alive for another year and a half, but it proved too much for two women who were also juggling careers and families. They pledged "to take some private time to re-evaluate our father’s business model," and they have proved as good as their word. They sold the business to two of Artie's regular customers, Arthur Scott Horak and his son, Arthur Scott Horak, Jr. That’s right, Artie’s is now being run by two guys named Artie.
Artie the Younger, a towering figure in waders who resembles "Game of Thrones’" Tormund Giantsbane (if the Free Folk were a more seagoing lot) presides over the store and a small fleet that still brings in local catch, supplementing it with seafood from other local fishermen and distributors from all over the world. Kris Mott is still behind the counter breaking down fish with his skilled crew.
Artie the Elder also owns R & J Construction in Island Park, which thoroughly refurbished the building. The layout is the same: You enter through the market — still a treasure trove of hopping fresh seafood — and, on your way to the dining room, pass by the open kitchen with its counter and handful of stools. But the interior has been completely overhauled, now a model of nautical sleek with wood-trimmed portholes and tiled walls of white and cerulean blue. (The same terra-cotta tile in the market floor now extends to the dining room.) Nevertheless it is recognizably Artie’s. You can still see the photo of Artie with the 782-pound shark he caught in the 1987, and the front half of that shark’s body still hangs, menacingly, from the ceiling.
The menu has barely changed. Chef Nohe Fuentes has returned to the kitchen and continues to offer simply prepared fish almost unequaled on Long Island. On any day you can expect to find fillets of flounder, fluke, sole, halibut, monkfish, red snapper, striped bass, blackfish, branzino, brook trout, catfish, Chilean sea bass, cod, scrod, mako shark, swordfish, tuna, salmon plus whole fluke, porgy, red snapper, sea bass, brook trout and branzino.
Fillets can be broiled, fried, blackened, baked with horseradish or oreganata; whole fish is available broiled or fried and you haven’t lived until you’ve had Noeh’s whole fried fluke. I’m also partial to the "Newsday" swordfish, seasoned with lots of black pepper, sauteed in blackened butter until it’s a little crusty on both sides and finished it in a hot oven — so named because I took a picture of it when I wrote about the restaurant’s reopening after Sandy.
Also on the menu: everything you expect to see at an LI fish house: fried calamari, crab cakes, steamers, clams and oysters on the half shell or baked, fried shrimp, Manhattan and New England clam chowders, lobsters, lobster rolls, pasta with clams, wraps, sandwiches and, yes, more.
The restaurant is still BYOB, but the stemware is much improved.
Artie’s fish market is open every day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The restaurant is open Tuesday to Sunday for lunch from noon to 3 p.m. and dinner (reservations required) from 4 to 10 p.m.
Artie’s South Shore Fish Market & Grill, 4257 Austin Blvd., Island Park, 516-889-0692, artiesfishmarket.com