Clam lovers, it’s your season! Rounding up all the good clam dishes on Long Island is truly an impossible task. But somebody had to do it. Ah, the things we do for the love of food. All the major clam categories are represented in this comprehensive list. Go out in the world, Long Islanders, and find the clam that suits you best.
Razor Clam Pizza at Il Forno
Il Forno may be new (it’s the casual dine-in/dine-out spot in the recently opened Gurney’s Star Island Resort & Marina in Montauk), but don’t discount its punch. Chef Jeremy Blutstein oversees the pizza program, where artisanal pies are cooked in two minutes flat. And while a heady discussion of the Island’s best pizza is probably in order, let’s confine the conversation to the razor clam pie: Calabrian chili, oregano, and a béchamel. Anything else is besides the point.
Il Forno at Gurney’s Star Island Resort & Marina, 32 Star Island Road, Montauk, (631) 668.3100, open daily in season.
Overstuffed Baked Clams at Popei’s
There are plenty of worthwhile contenders in Long Island’s baked clam category, but not all of them contain bacon… and shrimp! It’s a shellfish bonanza—but, then again, the name (overstuffed) really does say it all. Popei’s has plenty of seafood gems, but the stuffed clams are true masterpieces.
Popei’s Clam Bar Coram, 451 Middle Country Road, Coram, (631) 696.4029, open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 to 12 a.m., and Sunday, 12 to 10 p.m.
Clam Chowder at Cowfish
Many will debate the merits of a thin chowder versus a thick one, few can debate the merits of Cowfish’s chowder, which is just plain delicious. It is a thicker style, for those of you who were wondering, and you can enjoy your bowl with a view of Cowfish’s ample, water-adjacent property, which is part of the experience.
Cowfish, 258 E. Montauk Highway, Hampton Bays, (631) 594.3868, call for seasonal hours.
Linguine with Clams at Jonathan’s Ristorante
The vongole at Huntington’s Jonathan’s Ristorante is filled with clams, of course, but it’s also filled with a low, slow simmering heat, made possible by just enough habanero. Roasted garlic and crispy pancetta round out this thoughtful dish, which will convert even the ambivalent bivalve-eater.
Jonathan’s Ristorante, 15 Wall Street, Huntington, (631) 549.0055, open Tuesday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 5 to 10:30 p.m., Sunday, 4 to 9 p.m.
Famous Ipswich Fried Clams at Bigelow’s
Now, I grew up ten minutes from Ipswich and I can spot a real clam when I see it. Why do Long Islanders tolerate “clam strips” in the face of whole-belly clams? I do not know. Anyway, Bigelow’s is one of the few places that offer full, juicy, sand-in-the-belly clams, New England-style. Eat them now or forever hold your peace.
Bigelow’s, 79 North Long Beach Road, Rockville Centre, (516) 678.3878, open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, 12 to 9 p.m.
Steamed Littleneck Clams at Love Lane Kitchen
These jewel-sized clams arrive bathed in broth—but there’s more to this dish than just clams and juice. Hiding beneath the shells are jalapeños, fingerling potatoes, and soppressata, all of which come together in one comprehensive ode to shellfish. A slice of toasted bread is the perfect accouterment for soaking up all that broth.
Love Lane Kitchen, 240 Love Lane, Mattituck, (631) 298.8989, open daily, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Monday, 5 to 9:30 p.m.
Clams on the Halfshell at Kingfish Oyster Bar & Restaurant
Wherever chef Tom Schaudel leads, I’ll follow. I’m particularly in love with the grand, statement-making raw bar that serves as a centerpiece for his newest restaurant, the still-young Kingfish Oyster Bar & Restaurant in Westbury. The seafood is startlingly fresh, the accompanying sauces (as if you’ll really need any) inspired. There are a lot of places to get fresh clams, so why not do it here?
Kingfish Oyster Bar & Restaurant, 990 Corporate Drive, Westbury, (516) 640.5777, open Tuesday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 5 to 11 p.m., and Sunday, 5 to 9 p.m.