100 best New York restaurants: Seafood restaurants

It's easy enough to forget that Manhattan is an island, but some of the best New York restaurants remind us by showcasing pristine seafood in transporting digs.

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  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    100 best New York restaurants: Le Bernardin

  • Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

    100 best New York restaurants: Marea

  • Photograph: Courtesy of Pearl Oyster Bar

    100 best New York restaurants: Pearl Oyster Bar

  • 100 best New York restaurants: The John Dory Oyster Bar

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

100 best New York restaurants: Le Bernardin

The best New York restaurants with a sea-faring fetish range from fish shacks and oyster bars, to haute European seafood palaces. These are the top spots in town to load up on those omega-3s, via lobster rolls and oysters or kanpachi and uni. Did we miss your favorite seafood restaurant in NYC? Join the conversation in the comments.


RECOMMENDED: Full list of 100 best New York restaurants


Le Bernardin

  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice

New York dining mores have experienced a seismic paradigm shift in the past decade, toppling Old World restaurant titans and making conquering heroes of chefs that champion accessible food served in casual environments. But Le Bernardin—the city’s original temple of haute French seafood—survived the shake-up unscathed. Siblings Gilbert and Maguy Le Coze brought their Parisian eatery to Gotham in 1986, and the restaurant has maintained its reputation in the decades since. Le Bernardin is still a formal place, with white tablecloths, decorous service and a jackets-required policy in the main dining room. But a recent overhaul (executed by design firm Bentel & Bentel) modernized the room with leather banquettes and a 24-foot mural of a tempestuous sea by Brooklyn artist Ran Ortner. Guests who find the $190 tasting menu or $120 four-course prix fixe out of reach can still experience the kitchen’s finesse in the lounge area, via stunning bar snacks: raw kanpachi topped with beads of wasabi tobiko ($18), for example, or gorgeous scallop ceviche ($18) resting in a pool of grassy olive oil. Beverage consultant Greg Seider’s cocktails, meanwhile, are alone worthy of a special trip: The baroque creations include a Pisco Gaudi ($16)—a lush drink made with the Peruvian brandy, a smoked paprika and saffron tincture, and egg whites.

  1. 155 W 51st St, (between Sixth and Seventh Aves), 10019
Book online

Marea

  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice

Michael White's extravagant, spectacular shrine to the Italian coastline is a worthy indulgence. Spend you shall, and with great rewards: Start with crostini topped with velvety sea urchin and petals of translucent lardo, then move onto seafood-focused pastas, like fusilli spiraled around chunks of octopus in a bone-marrow–enriched sauce or sedanini (like ridgeless rigatoni) in a smoky cod-chowder sauce with potatoes and speck.

  1. 240 Central Park South, (between Seventh Ave and Broadway)
Book online

Pearl Oyster Bar

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This convivial, New England–style joint was a forerunner of the city’s fish-shack trend. The outstanding lobster roll—sweet, lemony meat laced with mayonnaise on a butter-enriched bun—is Pearl’s raison d’être, but more sophisticated dishes fare equally well: A bouillabaisse features briny lobster broth packed with mussels, cod, scallops and clams, with an aioli-smothered crouton balanced on top—a great value at $20. For dessert, try a bittersweet chocolate mousse topped with a quenelle of barely sweetened whipped cream. Finally, a restaurant worthy of its hype.

  1. 18 Cornelia St, (between Bleecker and W 4th Sts), 10014
More info

The John Dory Oyster Bar

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman’s original Meatpacking District John Dory was an ambitious, pricey endeavor, but its reincarnation in the Ace Hotel is an understated knockout. Tall stools face a raw bar stocked with a rotating mix of East and West Coast oysters, all expertly handled and impeccably sourced. True to form, the rest of Bloomfield’s tapas-style seafood dishes are intensely flavored. Chilled lobster tastes larger than life, its sweet flesh slicked in an herbaceous tomalley vinaigrette. Meanwhile, warm dishes take their cues mostly from the garlic-and-olive-oil belt—meaty octopus doused in aioli, plus miniature mussels stuffed with boisterous mortadella meatballs. Though the utilitarian sweets aren’t worth sticking around for, the savory food here merits the inevitable wait for a table.

  1. 1196 Broadway, (at 29th St)
More info

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