Eating on Fire Island is often an uncomplicated affair involving a grill, a six pack and a heap of steamed clams — sometimes all three. When Islanders do go out to dine, it’s often in search of camaraderie and a bay breeze, and not necessarily haute cuisine. However, as the island’s menus have grown more polished, dining out here can mean tucking into sushi, crudo or even a small plate conceived by a celebrity chef. From poke bowls to shrimp-spiked linguine, here’s a snapshot of half a dozen dishes that await on Fire Island in 2017, from East to West.
Surf’s Out (1 Bay Walk, Kismet): Poke bowls are stomping their way across the fast-casual food landscape. Last year, they landed on the menu at Surf’s Out, the dockside Kismet restaurant where sushi and sashimi occupy half the menu. Chef Anthony Trobiano calls his version “surf yutari bowls” and they go like this: Choose your fish (such as raw salmon, tuna, crab salad or grilled eel) and base (rice or salad), and the bowl will arrive topped with a fistful of edamame, some sliced avocado and a shower of tempura crunch. Wash it down with some bright sake sangria. More info: 631-583-7400, surfsout.com
Saltaire Market (100 Broadway, Saltaire): After superstorm Sandy pummeled the existing Saltaire Market, Saltaire residents spent three summers without a market — but last year, they hit the mother lode with a handsome new spot that serves well-considered grab-and-go food alongside the groceries. These are courtesy of former Le Dock co-owner and chef Patrick Adams, who plates dishes such as seared sushi-grade tuna over coconut rice and an excellent poppyseed-almond-crusted flounder ($25). The latter is a signature dish Adams came up with one night at Le Dock when he was out of bread crumbs, and it stayed on that menu throughout his tenure. At Saltaire Market, it’s served over buttery mashed potatoes. Take it to go, or settle into one of the picnic tables on the deck with a can of IPA for a low-key summertime meal. More info: 631-583-5522, saltairemarket.org
Le Dock (60 Bay Walk, Fair Harbor): This Fair Harbor bistro underwent a major change two years ago, when everywhere-at-once chef Jean Georges Vongerichten huddled with his longtime business partner, Le Dock owner Phil Suarez, for a décor and menu revamp. The Vongerichten fairy dust resulted in a breezy, polished Hamptons feel, and culinary couple Jill and Joe Dobias (formerly of the East Village’s Joe and Misses Doe) execute a seafood-heavy menu that includes a lacy-crisp fried calamari in a citrus-chili emulsion with a dusting of pulverized herbs ($16). More info: 631-583-5200, ledockrestaurant.com
Maguire’s Bayfront Restaurant (1 Bungalow Lane, Ocean Beach): Maguire’s may be a time-honored party spot, but it keeps food lovers in mind, too, with dishes such as wild-mushroom farro risotto and a daily crudo — for instance, ribbons of black sea bass served with shaved watermelon radish in a pool of ponzu. More info: 631-583-8800, Maguiresbayfrontrestaurant.com
Pines Bistro (36 Fire Island Blvd., Fire Island Pines): You’ll find this second-floor, tucked-away nest of a restaurant behind wooden blinds that filter the evening sun. Rebuilt five years ago after a 2011 fire, it’s an elegant counterpoint to the beachy, sun-splashed spots that pepper Fire Island. Chef Daniele Gori brings an Italian sensibility to deceptively simple dishes such as a shrimp-heavy linguine tumbled with parsley and grated Parmesan ($37). More info: 631-597-6862, pinesfi.com/pinesbistro
The Casino (1 Trustees Walk, Davis Park): The sprawling Casino is both the only watering hole in Davis Park and the only oceanside restaurant on Fire Island. Its deck practically throbs with people when live bands play each weekend. The adjacent Casino Cafe, newly renovated, is a quieter, airy spot with drop-dead views from its outdoor patio. The menu takes in standards such as a burger and seared scallops, but an especially good deal is the overstuffed mahi-mahi tacos topped with pico de gallo and shredded cabbage ($5.50 each). More info: 631-597-6150, casinocafefireisland.com