A fried Ipswich clam sandwich with coleslaw served at Bigelow's...

A fried Ipswich clam sandwich with coleslaw served at Bigelow's in Rockville Centre. Credit: Daniel Brennan

Long Island's top seafood restaurants take fish seriously — be it grilled whole, freshly shucked or hard shelled. The best bets include come-as-you-are casual clam bars as well as upscale fish houses.

Anchor Down Dockside (2479 Adler Ct., Seaford) You might be forgiven for confusing this Seaford eatery with Stephen Rosenbluth’s Merrick restaurant, called simply Anchor Down. Both offer a similar medley of fish, shellfish and more, but Dockside has one distinct advantage over its sister property: an outdoor deck on the Seaford canal with a pier to, yes, put one’s anchor down. While the place played host to Rosenbluth’s Cardoon in a past life, only the Mediterranean eatery’s delicious falafel balls have been grandfathered in. Otherwise, fried whole belly clams are the star of the menu — the buttermilk-buttered mollusks are revelatory. But don’t overlook Rosenbluth’s lobster roll — both Connecticut and New England styles are served — or his fancier dishes, including crab- and shrimp-stuffed Montauk fluke, blackened swordfish and grilled branzino. Another winner: the crispy fish tacos, in which lightly fried cubes of cod are hammocked in a tart and flavorsome casing of cilantro, lime and pickled mango. More info: 516-785-2390, anchordowndockside.com

Fried whole belly clams with tartar sauce at Anchor Down...

Fried whole belly clams with tartar sauce at Anchor Down Dockside in Seaford. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Anker (47 Front St., Greenport): Led by chefs Axel Irizzary and Will Horowitz, Anker is going full steam ahead on local fish and a gill-to-tail ethos that yields lemon-rosemary fish collars, swordfish bone marrow, and even candied fish scales on the burnt honey pie. Mussels mingle with big chunks of roasted fennel and leeks, lots of fresh dill and parsley and a broth made with smoked fish stock, caramelized plums and black pepper. Shareable big plates include grilled whole black sea bass, hickory-smoked lamb brisket and daily specials such as fried local fisherman’s platter and bouillabaisse. "Old school" selections include a lobster roll, New England clam chowder, fish and chips and a locally-focused raw bar. In fine weather, dine on the roof overlooking Greenport harbor. More info: 631-477-1300, ankerny.com

At Anker in Greenport, mussels are braised with roasted fennel,...

At Anker in Greenport, mussels are braised with roasted fennel, garlic and leeks and topped with lots of fresh herbs. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

Bell & Anchor (3253 Noyack Rd., Sag Harbor): One frigid winter night at the Bell & Anchor, which is perched on the edge of a working marina, the dining room erupted into applause for a marriage proposal at one table while, at the bar, the bartender plunked down seared Peconic Bay scallops, in a lemon-cream sauce, during a month when scallops were nowhere to be found. "We know the baymen," she winked. That scene is typical of the Bell & Anchor, an irrepressible spot which manages to be a locals hangout, special-occasion place and superb seafood restaurant all at once. The connections forged with local fishermen over the last eight years translate to rare magic inside chef Sam McClelland’s kitchen, whether lobster thermidor panini, tilefish with Lyonnaise-style potatoes or pan-roasted monkfish (with littleneck clams and shrimp, of course) over saffron risotto. The drinks are on-point, the vibes are nautical and the welcome here is warm and lasting. More info: 631-725-3400, bellandanchor.com

Bouillabaisse at Bell & Anchor in Sag Harbor.

Bouillabaisse at Bell & Anchor in Sag Harbor. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Bigelow’s (79 North Long Beach Rd., Rockville Centre): Since 1939, this stalwart has been the Island’s unofficial Ipswich ambassador, frying up with abandon whole-belly clams from the town and environs. Just as delicious as those briny, oyster-like treats are Bigelow’s fried strips of Atlantic surf clams, sweeter and less rubber-band-y than anything Mrs. Paul ever stuffed into a box. The Andreolas family, exacting stewards of this local treasure since the 1990s, preside over a 20-seat counter and beautifully built outdoor area, even as they serve up New England clam chowder that’s nothing like the milk soup you’ve been eating all your life, along with a Manhattan variant that's just as muscular. Let’s face it, though, Bigelow’s is a shrine to the fryolator, and rare is the sea creature that escapes its breaded, deep-fat treatment. Results are usually excellent, though, especially when accompanied by crunchy onion rings and hand-cut fries. An assault on your arteries? Maybe. But what a way to go. More info: 516-678-3878, bigelows-rvc.com

A fried Ipswich clam sandwich with coleslaw served at Bigelow's...

A fried Ipswich clam sandwich with coleslaw served at Bigelow's in Rockville Centre. Credit: Daniel Brennan

Catch Oyster Bar (63 N. Ocean Ave., Patchogue): Subway tiles, exposed ductwork and a distressed sculpture of a mermaid lend this cozy spot a nautical vibe, but Catch’s appeal goes far beyond décor. Though you’ll likely sit on a bar stool (there are only a few tables), an hour or two spent here usually includes meeting some locals, slurping oysters not found anywhere else, downing an excellent cocktail and leaving the premises proud to be a Long Islander. Those oysters — mostly harvested locally, but a few hail from points north and west — are delivered daily and listed on a chalkboard; order some on the halfshell, and they’ll be shucked within eyeshot. Get a few more grilled with Parmesan and butter — trust us on that — then segue to a tuna Niçoise salad, scallop ceviche (an occasional special) or an oyster po’boy made made with lightly fried bivalves from the Great South Bay. Lovers of bouillabaisse can go for the South Shore seafood stew. More info: 631-627-6860, catchoysterbar.com

Baked clams stuffies at Catch Oyster Bar in Patchogue.

Baked clams stuffies at Catch Oyster Bar in Patchogue. Credit: Daniel Brennan

Fatfish (28 Cottage Ave., Bay Shore): In the early aughts, chef Brian Valdini returned home to his native Long Island for a brief vacation — but instead ended up taking over this waterfront bistro to create a restaurant devoted to Mediterranean-style seafood and meat dishes. Even after superstorm Sandy took the place down to its pilings, the rebuilt Fatfish remains one of the South Shore’s tucked-way gems and Valdini is nowhere near to losing his edge. The crowd is resolutely local, the deck seems to hover over the Great South Bay and Valdini layers magic over every piece tuna, salmon, scallop, shrimp, oyster, monkfish, blackfish and fluke fillet that passes through the kitchen. Intuitive servers deliver the goods, from a finely-tuned crudo of tuna with oranges and pistachios to seared scallops meunière or roasted halibut with shiitake mushrooms. Nibblers can stick to plates of charcuterie, carousers to icy martinis and a raw bar, and everyone can drink in the jaw-dropping view. More info: 631-666-2899, fatfish.info

Lobster risotto with basil, chives, parmesan and orange served at...

Lobster risotto with basil, chives, parmesan and orange served at Fat Fish in Bay Shore. Credit: Daniel Brennan

Five Ocean (5 New York Ave., Long Beach): This flip-flop-friendly dune-side eatery packs serious culinary firepower: Chef-owner Craig Attwood made his name running a number of high-end East End restaurants (East Hampton Point and Jedediah Hawkins Inn, among them). He brings all his experience and passion to bear on the modest surroundings. The menu reflects the seaside location, with local seafood pitched high (tuna tartar, roasted whole fish on a bed of caponata), low (fish tacos) and high-low (butter-poached lobster nachos). Any dish featuring clams is going to be a winner, as is the distinctly non-pescatarian fried chicken, two mahogany-crusted boneless thighs that share a big, low-sided galvanized steel bucket with a peppy slaw and hand-cut fries dusted with Old Bay seasoning. There’s a burger at lunch a strip steak at dinner, and good cheer all day long. More info: 516-517-2828, fiveoceanlongbeach.com

Steamed littleneck clams with chorizo, lemon and parsley at Five...

Steamed littleneck clams with chorizo, lemon and parsley at Five Ocean in Long Beach. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

The Frisky Oyster (27 Front St., Greenport): Both the smartly dressed crowd and chic atmosphere at this Greenport hot spot might have been airlifted from Manhattan’s Upper East Side, but the friendly service and straight-from-the-bay shellfish are distinctly North Fork. Tables can be hard to come by, especially on busy weekend evenings, but charming the reservation gods is worth it for superb Peconic oysters Friskafella, chipotle-spiced, baked with spinach and topped by a caramelized Parmesan aioli that ought to be the envy of every Rockefeller. And if there’s any more persuasive argument for local fowl than the restaurant’s Crescent Farms duck breast, we haven’t seen it. A finely seared crust gives way to pink meat lent delightful assistance by the syrupy tang of Bing cherry sauce. That and a side of spaghetti squash roasted with creamy Taleggio and dusted with garlic breadcrumbs sends this duck into the stratosphere. More info: 631-477-4265, thefriskyoyster.com

Peconic Gold Oysters Friskafella with garlic spinach, chipotle and Parmigiano...

Peconic Gold Oysters Friskafella with garlic spinach, chipotle and Parmigiano aioli at the Frisky Oyster in Greenport. Credit: Randee Daddona

Inlet Seafood (541 E. Lake Dr., Montauk): "From our boats to your table" has been this restaurant’s slogan ever since six local fishermen banded together to open it in 2006 as a side hustle for the group, which was better known for its wholesale business in the state’s largest commercial port. Not surprisingly, exceptionally fresh shellfish, along with fluke, sea bass and whatever else they happen to be catching, are the stars of the menu, and you can get them lots of ways: grilled or fried, sushi or po’boy. But there are specials for landlubbers too, along with a well-stocked bar and myriad fun cocktails. The place’s exceptional outdoor set-up is on the edge of Montauk Harbor, with picnic tables and corn hole below, and cafe tables above on a large second-floor veranda with dramatic seaside views. More info: 631-668-4272, inletseafood.com

Whole grilled sea bass at Inlet Seafood in Montauk.

Whole grilled sea bass at Inlet Seafood in Montauk. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

The Jolly Fisherman & Steak House (25 Main St., Roslyn): Yes, it’s old-fashioned, and that’s fine by us. Who isn’t charmed by a breadbasket overflowing with homemade nut bread and corn muffins, or a practically extinct "relish tray" full of celery, carrots and radishes on ice? And if old-fashioned means that you can expect snapper, sole and swordfish in addition to salmon and branzino; that you can dive into a platter of fried jumbo shrimp, Ipswich clams and sweet scallops; that you can order a three-pound lobster or fish and chips with malt vinegar; that stone crabs, soft-shell crabs and bay scallops are only served in season; that you can also get prime steaks and Long Island duck a l’orange — well then, we wish there were more old-fashioned seafood restaurants on Long Island. The Jolly Fisherman opened overlooking the Roslyn duck pond in 1957 and three generations of the Scheiner family have kept it going strong. More info: 516-621-0055, jollyfishermanrestaurant.com

The two-pound stuffed lobster at the Jolly Fisherman & Steak...

The two-pound stuffed lobster at the Jolly Fisherman & Steak house in Roslyn. Credit: Newsday / Raychel Brightman

Kyma (1446 Old Northern Blvd., Roslyn): This beach party of a Greek seafood restaurant swings all year with Roslynites and anyone looking for a scene plus top-notch seafood. Operating partner Reno Christou and chef Chris Kletsides are veterans of nearby Limani; they were lured one mile east in 2013 and Kletsides’ menu hasn’t strayed far. The selection of pristine fresh whole fish may include fagri, the sweet and meaty Mediterranean pink snapper, red snapper, royal dorado, pompano and black sea bass, plus huge shrimp, Maine lobster, Alaskan king crab legs and plenty of Greek salads and spreads. Moussaka, steaks, chops and braised lamb shanks will satisfy non-fish-eaters. During prime time the noise level here can range from hubbub to din; early dinners are relatively serene. More info: 516-621-3700, kyma-roslyn.com

Shrimp kebobs at Kyma in Roslyn.

Shrimp kebobs at Kyma in Roslyn. Credit: Bruce Gilbert

Limani (1043 Northern Blvd., Roslyn): Before Limani opened in 2008, Long Island had never seen either a fish restaurant or a Greek restaurant to match it. The sumptuous design eschewed Greek key motifs and paintings of Santorini in favor of mosaic tile, luxe upholstery and fine stemware. The fish, dozens of species sourced from all over the world, reclined upon a bed of ice, waiting for their turn over the fire where they would be grilled and then, in deference to their excellence, anointed simply with imported olive oil and lemon juice. Twelve years later, the restaurant still meets the high standard it set. None of this comes cheap, nor is the place to waste your money on the farmed branzino or salmon you can find elsewhere: Go for the whole grilled fagri (Greek snapper) or the mammoth head-on South African shrimp. Pescaphobes will enjoy the fried, wafer-thin zucchini and eggplant, tomato salad (good year-round!) or lamb chops. More info: 516-869-8989, limani.com

Whole grilled pink snapper with lemon, olive oil, salt, pepper,...

Whole grilled pink snapper with lemon, olive oil, salt, pepper, capers and oregano at Limani in Roslyn. Credit: Daniel Brennan

Lost At Sea (888 W. Beech St, Long Beach): This petite, paneled nautical spot has bric-a-brac on the walls and seawater running through its veins (and kitchen), from fried cherrystone clams with charred lemon to celery-root pancakes with smoked salmon and apple brown butter or grilled swordfish with sweet potato and bok choy. Chef Alecia St. Aubrey switches up the menu often, so by the the time you read this, it likely will have changed — but a few terrestrial dishes are usually in the mix, such as hanger steak frites with aioli. What stays constant: Superlative cocktails from co-owner Stephan Magliano. The place is truly tiny, so call ahead. Cash only. More info: 516-632-5263

Grilled octopus with garlic aioli, potato and chipotle at Lost...

Grilled octopus with garlic aioli, potato and chipotle at Lost at Sea in Long Beach. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Pearl (4338 Austin Blvd., Island Park): This restaurant marks a reunion for owners Paul and Candy Holand and chef Michael Ross, who all worked together at Pasta Grill in Syosset. Ross, whose résumé includes Fiddleheads in Oyster Bay and Jewel in Melville, has fashioned a contemporary menu that, since the pandemic, has expanded beyond its original focus on seafood. Now seared octopus with Romesco sauce and chickpeas, and pan-roasted halibut with wild mushrooms, fingerling potatoes and lobster sauce are joined by Thai barbecued ribs, grilled Duroc pork chop, chicken scarpariello and lots of pasta. More info: 516-432-0723, pearlrestaurantny.com

Pan-seared Arctic char rests on a bed of multicolored cauliflower,...

Pan-seared Arctic char rests on a bed of multicolored cauliflower, on top of a purple-cauliflower puree at Pearl in Island Park. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

The Plaza Café (61 Hill St., Southampton): A fine cook as well as a leading voice among Island restaurateurs, chef-owner Doug Gulija’s fare is always delicious, frequently fascinating, and served in a polished and refined Hamptons dining room. The oft-changing menu reflects a searching, restless creativity, one whose recent appetizer highlights have included a salmon napoleon with pea pancakes, prosciutto-wrapped shrimp and a tian of crab meat, tuna tartare, and a wasabi-goosed avocado mash. Lately, the list of intriguing so-called medium plates has featured tuna poke nachos and a lobster roll with meat poached in butter. Main courses of note include the signature lobster-and-shrimp shepherd's pie, grilled swordfish loin matched with sweet-sausage meat in carrot-chive broth, and pan-seared king salmon with lardons and a mustard seed vinaigrette. But no visit to the Plaza is complete without sampling at least one (preferably more) of Gulija’s mother Maria’s desserts. Among the five or so available at any one time are the chocolate mousse cake and orange vanilla torte with a Creamsicle-ish ice cream, both epic in the best sense of the word. More info: 631-283-9323, plazacafesouthampton.com

Grilled swordfish with sweet sausage meat, peas, pea greens and...

Grilled swordfish with sweet sausage meat, peas, pea greens and carrot chive broth at The Plaza Café in Southampton. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Salt & Barrel (61 W. Main St., Bay Shore): There are usually a dozen oysters to choose from (shucked to order from a station at one end of the stunning bar) and the seafood dishes that follow are polished and a little eclectic. Some of it is locally sourced — clams are chopped, baked and threaded with chorizo, bacon and Hawaiian sweet bread and the blackened fluke arrives in housemade tortillas with slaw and pineapple-mango chutney. And sure, you can land a warm lobster roll, but the kitchen also trades in lobster mac-and-cheese or lobster ravioli fra Diavolo. Subtle "crispy octopus" is a clever twist on the grilled versions that proliferate these days, and miso-glazed black sea bass or pine nut- and almond-crusted mahi-mahi are also waiting in the wings. Cocktails are always a work of art. More info: 631-647-8818, saltandbarrel.com

A dozen oysters at Salt & Barrel in Bay Shore.

A dozen oysters at Salt & Barrel in Bay Shore. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Sea Bar (7 Great Neck Rd., Great Neck Plaza): They both have roots in Greece but when Jimmy Soursos and Gregory Zapantis opened Sea Bar, they envisioned a friendly, casual venue suited to everyday dining, not weekend celebrations. They wanted to explore the whole world of fish cookery, with local seafood plateaus, tuna tartare, popcorn shrimp, crab cakes, fish tacos and steamed lobster. The heart of the menu is a mix-and-match lineup of eight fish that are grilled and served with your choice of sauce (lemon and olive oil, tomato and ginger, herbs and cream, cilantro and lime or Cajun tartar sauce). But chef Zapantis, whose resume includes the Manhattan restaurants Estiatorio Milos, Trata and Kellari, is not about to hide his Greek bona fides under a barrel. An undeniable Hellenic influence can be seen in such dishes as flash-fried red mullet (barbounia), braised green beans (fasolakia) and rustic tomato salad (horiatiki). More info: 516-441-5708, seabar.life

Tuna tartare at Sea Bar in Great Neck.

Tuna tartare at Sea Bar in Great Neck. Credit: Noah Fecks

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