Instead of ice fishing, drop into Prime Catch. It's
Long Island's newest seafood house - fresh, splashy, a refuge from the cold.
Chef Axell Urrutia, who cooked at nearby Cannon's Blackthorn and before that at the ambitious, departed Miami Grand, has joined the owners of Merrick's Surf 'n Turf Mediterranean Grill to jump-start this buzzing, corner eatery.
And surf-and-turf suits the double-entendre of Prime Catch. The kitchen is at ease with steaks, as well. Enjoy the bar, too, with brews on tap; the light from floor-to-ceiling windows; and a compact dining area marked by exposed brick and a fondness for the color red.
You'll be more than fond of the house's update of clams casino. Urrutia enriches the buttery Rhode Island recipe with sweet crabmeat. He also juices up the crisp, thickly sliced fried calamari with a generous amount of cherry peppers. Smoky, grilled calamari finds a foil in citrusy couscous, oven-dried tomatoes and toasted-cumin vinaigrette. Mussels heat up in "diablo" fashion. Tasty salads: Caesar, apple-Gorgonzola, chopped tomato-cucumber-feta. Smooth, light-hued lobster bisque does keep good shellfish flavor. The standout main dish is a special of pan-fried, whole red snapper escabèche, covered with a tart marinade of grape tomatoes and onions; crunchy outside, snowy within. Coming close is the whole, grilled dorado, a meaty and very satisfying, mild fish. For more spark, there's grilled tuna mignon, thick and finished tropically with pineapple-and-mango salsa. Blackened strip steak, juicy and well-seasoned, is paired with barbecue-sauced oysters for a spin on surf-turf. Moist tres leches cake tops the desserts.
Salsa crudo turns bolder with Stilton cheese, but still can't rescue the limp crab cakes. Surf-and-turf risotto, a turret with chunks of steak and whole shrimp, doesn't harmonize. Nor does shrimp cocktail, tweaked with Tabasco-shot mayo. Baked oysters oreganata: overcooked. Soggy apple crisp. Dull brownie sundae.
THE BOTTOM LINE