There’s no salmon sold at Haskell’s Seafood Market and Cafe, and no shrimp either. If it wasn’t caught in Long Island waters — or hauled in by a boat that docks on Long Island — you won’t find it at this new Westhampton Beach shop.
Owner Peter Haskell doesn’t feel in the least compromised by his commitment to the local catch. "I know the name of every fisherman who supplies me."
When I visited the month-old shop, I had my choice of local clams and oysters, weakfish ($17.95 a pound), striped bass ($24.95), black sea bass ($22.95), monkfish ($14.95) and porgy ($9.95). Fishermen of Haskell’s acquaintance had just motored out to sea and he expected them to return in a day or two with yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna and swordfish. This time of year he also sees squid, mahi mahi and golden tilefish. Later in the summer, there will be albacore tuna and, if he’s lucky, wahoo, which, in the privacy of his own kitchen, he gives a quick sear and serves with ponzu sauce.
Another of Haskell’s deliberate decisions: You won’t see much fish at the store. All of the product is cleaned, butchered and portioned at his state-of-the-art wholesale facility in East Quogue; in Westhampton Beach, everything is sold in one-pound packages that have been wrapped to keep the fish optimally fresh and dry.
During the pandemic, Haskell dipped his toes into the retail fish business, offering curbside pickup of fresh fish and prepared meals in East Quogue, as well as home delivery to the East End. He found that he enjoyed the interaction with home cooks as much as he did with fishermen and wholesale clients. "I guess I have this calling," he said, "to reach out to the public and help them understand and respect our local waters, the fish that live there and the ecosystems that they belong to."
Fishing and education defined his childhood in East Moriches. His father was a biology teacher in Oakdale, his mother taught English in Bohemia. Haskell "grew up on the bay" and, at 14, he got his first boat and a shellfish permit to go with it. The years went by, he added permits and bought bigger boats and became a proper Long Island bayman specializing in crabs, eels and bay scallops. In 2007 he opened Haskell’s Bait & Tackle in East Quogue, a vital resource for amateur East End fishermen. The wholesale facility followed eight years later, cementing his commitment to local fisheries.
The recently completed $11 million revitalization of Westhampton Beach’s Main Street inspired Haskell to establish this jewel of a retail shop, which also boasts a lovely patio out back where you can partake of the cafe menu, a dozen items from fried calamari, local fish chowder and Montauk lobster rolls (hot or cold) to Peconic blue-claw crabcake sandwich with melted provolone, Shinnecock fluke with basil-lime brown butter and fish and chips made with porgy. Everything is also available to go.
Haskell’s Seafood Market and Cafe is at 77A Main St., Westhampton Beach, 631-288-7287.