Lost at Sea
888 W. Beech St., Long Beach
SERVICE: Well-versed waitstaff that is attentive and playful.
AMBIENCE: A cozy, 26-seat restaurant in a somewhat hidden space with an intimate vibe.
ESSENTIALS: Open for dinner Wednesday and Thursday 5 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5 to 11 p.m., Sunday 5 to 10 p.m.; drinks and raw bar served late into the night. Cash only.
Tucked along a go-go Long Beach stretch, an understated, cash-only restaurant with 26 seats and a bare-bones social media presence is cooking some of Long Island’s most innovative seafood, coupling it with devilishly made cocktails in a sophisticated nautical setting.
There is no sign advertising you’ve arrived at Lost at Sea. Just an address: 888 W. Beech St., where two guys separated by disaster have reunited to showcase their culinary passions.
For executive chef Alexis Trolf, it’s a seafood-centric spinoff of Lost & Found, his quirky, New American restaurant five blocks west. For Steve Magliano, a sort of cocktail magician, it’s the latest opportunity to create a drink menu that bears his whimsical sensibility.
The two have renewed their relationship nearly five years after they were forced to part ways when Caffe Laguna, the Italian-inflected restaurant they ran together in Long Beach, was wrecked by superstorm Sandy.
The new venture takes place in the one-time Stone Crab space, which has been given a cosmetic makeover with Brooklyn-chic lighting and the nautical theme of a seaside shack. It’s a laid-back scene where plates are meant to be shared and cocktails flow.
With another kitchen to tend, Trolf is a fleeting presence, leaving the cooking in the capable hands of chef de cuisine Luke Roberti. It’s Magliano and well-versed servers that run the show, a team that is both knowledgeable and playful.
The food is well-conceived and executed, the handwritten menu ever-changing, always a good sign at a place that cares about its seafood. There are four raw dishes, five cold ones and five hot ones, along with three sides. Don’t commit right away. There are also specials and often lots of them. The staff will tell you to order about two dishes for each person. This is about right. Portions here can be generous.
This is where you come for oysters. There are more than a half-dozen varieties on a given night, well-sourced and very clean. If the Lucky 13 from the Great South Bay is among the selection, just say yes. It’s equal parts creamy, briny and addictive.
A special of oysters Rockefeller tweaks the classic, with three bubbling oysters on the half shell filled with a Bearnaise-like sauce, and capped with tarragon, kale and crusted cheese. Baked clams are a simple and excellent version of a dish that is ubiquitous on Long Island.
The daily crudo depends on the seafood that evening, and the accompanying agrodolce, a sweet-and-sour sauce. If the kitchen has a downfall, it is that dishes occasionally become overexcited with flavor that overwhelms delicate seafood. On one night, the black bass crudo was overpowered by a red currant agrodolce. On another, Peconic Bay scallops paired much better with a silky blood orange version.
The kitchen has a way with scallops. Along with the crudo, the chefs make a chilled seafood salad that includes calamari, shrimp and clams, all tossed in a vibrant citrus vinaigrette.
Scallops appear again broiled, caramelized on one side, pillowy and sweet through the middle, happily wading in butter and topped with a fresh-herbed salsa verde. A hulking piece of cod arrives atop a bright lemon sauce, showered in crispy bread crumbs that are a nice contrast to the fork-tender fillet.
To cap the meal you’ll want the steak frites, the lone non-seafood dish that pairs a shell steak, dry aged for 10 days, with thick-cut, well-crisped French fries.
Whatever you order, you’ll need a drink. Magliano is a constant presence in the room, creating every cocktail and often delivering them, hanging around just long enough to share a tidbit or two of his mind at work.
To make the pink and Sichuan peppercorns pop alongside tequila in the Salt N’ Peppa, he’ll tell you about replacing lime juice with acid phosphate, commonly used in soda. On a recent cold day, all diners were greeted with vin chaud, a warming mulled wine made from a French recipe his wife insisted he learn to make following a trip to France. Homemade tonic with a yellowish tinge is created to pair with gin.
There was no dessert on the nights we visited. It’s not necessary when you’re in a space that knows a thing or two about a nightcap and a raw bar that flows late into the night.