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Oyster festivals coming to West Sayville and Long Beach

Oysters and clams on the half-shell at The

Oysters and clams on the half-shell at The Village Raw Bar in Rockville Centre. Photo Credit: Bruce Gilbert

Terence Mulligan of Long Beach calls the offerings at his event the “holy trinity.” It’s one of two Long Island oyster festivals scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 15.

“We do oysters, beer and music – that’s why people get excited about it,” says Mulligan, organizer of the Long Beach Oyster Fest. “There’s unlimited beer and raw oysters for three hours.”

There will be the holy trinity at the other gathering of oyster lovers as well – the Blue Island Oyster Fest organized by the Blue Oyster Company in West Sayville to benefit Save the Great South Bay. Unlimited beer from Blue Point Brewery and raw oysters will be available for four hours, in addition to music.

But the festivals aren’t competing, says Marshall Brown, executive director of Save the Great South Bay, a group that he says has 14,000 Facebook members who want to keep the bay free of pollution. There are enough oyster lovers to go around.

“We’re a good distance away from each other,” Brown, a Sayville resident, says of the two oyster festivals. “We’re not stealing each other’s audience.”

Both events are adults-only and rain or shine.

IN LONG BEACH

The third annual Long Beach Oyster Fest is scheduled to take place at JJ Coopers bar and restaurant on West Park Avenue, and Mulligan says he expects about 350 people to attend. He says that while other oyster festivals are good, his will be one of the best.

“We’ve looked at what other festivals have done to see what we could do better,” Mulligan says. “We’ll have specialty oysters that are some of the best in the country — Peconic Gold and Lucky 13.” He adds, “They come from the Great South Bay and Peconic Bay, and they’re sweet and creamy.”

Music will be provided by Long Beach resident Jah Stix.

“He can play to any crowd,” Mulligan says. “He can play reggae, rock blues, soul.…”

JJ Coopers has on outdoor patio, so the fun will be both inside and out, Mulligan notes. Attendees can win a trip to a Jet Blue destination of their choice, including international locations. “The world is their oyster,” he adds.

The oyster shells will be collected by high school students and used to protect the marsh at Lido Beach. Mulligan says oyster shells and oyster reefs reduce coastal erosion around Lido Beach.

Long Beach Oyster Fest

WHEN | WHERE  2-5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at JJ Coopers American Restaurant & Bar, 124 W. Park Ave., Long Beach, 516-431-3133 

INFO thecraicfest.com 

TICKETS $50 ($40 advance online)

IN WEST SAYVILLE

At the third annual Blue Island Oyster Fest, where about 500 people are expected, there’ll be Drink the Bay Clean beer from the New Point Brewery, a beer created to raise money to save the Great South Bay, as well as other beer choices. “We’ll be raising money for a good cause,” Brown says.

Soundswell will provide the music. “It’s a jam band,” Brown says. “Think of Phish – in that direction.” Members of Soundswell come from such Long Island communities as Sayville and Blue Point.

Ten different types of oysters, mostly from Long Island’s Great South Bay, will be featured, all with a different taste, Brown says. “We don’t fool around.”

Raffles will be part of the festival, and Save the Great South Bay T-shirts, made by autistic children, will be for sale.

Festivalgoers can meet the farmers who grow and harvest the oysters.

Blue Island Oyster Fest

WHEN | WHERE Noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at Blue Island Oyster Co., 136 Atlantic Ave., West Sayville, 631-750-5986 

INFO blueislandoysterfoundation.com

TICKETS $70

NEW RAW BARS ON LONG ISLAND

Raw bars should be indigenous to Long Island, but we have surprisingly few for a place ringed by water. Fortunately, that’s changing; here are some that have opened recently or have become favorites over the years.

Catch Oyster Bar

63 N. Ocean Ave., Patchogue, 631-627-6860, catchoysterbar.com

Exposed ductwork and beams, subway tiles and a lively bar are the backdrop for tucking into oysters on the half-shell; about a dozen varieties are on the menu at any given time, from plump Fire Island Blues to West Coast Kumamotos. Slurp them dabbed with house mignonette, or go for oysters Rockefeller or grilled oysters showered with Parmesan.

Salt & Barrel

61 W. Main St., Bay Shore, 631-647-8818, saltandbarrel.com

Since opening in 2016, Salt & Barrel has been a downtown Bay Shore nexus for those who love both oysters and finely tuned cocktails. Choose from an ever-changing list of bivalves – listed on a chalkboard behind the half-moon-shaped bar — and they are shucked within full view. Feeling adventurous? Go for one of the oyster shooters; the Salty Dog comes with grapefruit juice, vodka and sea salt.

Kingfish Oyster Bar & Restaurant

990 Corporate Dr. (The Vanderbilt), Westbury, 516-640-5777, kingfishoysterbar.com

The Westbury spot has a bivalve bar as its centerpiece. It offers briny Wellfleets from Massachusetts and Beausoleil oysters from Prince Edward Island, crisp Lucky 13 Blue Points from Great South Bay and meaty Merlie Pearls from Moriches Inlet, among others. The oysters also are tasty grilled with Sriracha mayo. And there are plenty of littleneck clams to be shucked.

Prime

117 New York Ave., Huntington, 631-385-1515, restaurantprime.com

The Huntington restaurant has added a raw bar to its many attractions. The selection includes deep-cup, sweet Kumamotos and salty-sweet Big Coves from Washington State, Fanny Bays from British Columbia with a hint of cucumber, clean and sweet Merry oysters from Massachusetts, and the ever-reliable salty-sweet Blue Points.

The Village Raw Bar

88 N. Village Ave., Rockville Centre, 516-678-9888, villagerawbar.com

It has its roots on Cape Cod. Typically, you’ll find at least 10 varieties available. They include sweet Pine Island oysters, salty-sweet Mookie Blues from Maine, coppery Malpeques from Prince Edward Island, and savory Spring Creeks from Massachusetts. Littleneck clams are a mainstay.

Virgola

5 Village Green Way, Patchogue, 631-714-5000, virgolausa.com

Patchogue’s Virgola, which opened this year, may have the most truncated list of raw oysters of the places on this list (at max, three or four varieties per day) but what Virgola lacks in breadth it makes up for in style. The house mignonette is laced with chili, the horseradish is shaved fresh, and the cocktail sauce is punchy and bright. And you can take your Shigokus or Powder Points on a loaded seafood tower alongside littleneck clams, caviar and a rainbow of ceviche and crudo.

Compiled by Peter M. Gianotti and Corin Hirsch

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