Oh, Oysters! Eating Oysters in (but not from!) Westchester

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Linda Lombroso has this story in today’s food section:

If your Valentine’s Day dinner last night didn’t include any oysters on the half-shell, there’s no need to wait another year to enjoy a platter.

Nobody knows whether oysters really are aphrodisiacs. But oysters are so bountiful at Lower Hudson Valley restaurants, and often so reasonably priced, it certainly can’t hurt to give them a try. You can start with a handful as an appetizer, or order a dozen for dinner paired with a ice cold, steely glass of wine.

An 18-oyster order at Caffe Regatta Oyster Bar & Grill in Pelham.. ( Xavier Mascareñas / The Journal News )

Oysters are bivalve mollusks, like clams, mussels and scallops. They go by many names, but there are only five different species, says Ben Conte, owner of Conte’s Fish Market in Mount Kisco. They take on different flavors depending on the waters in which they’re raised.

Brian Galvin, chef-owner of the Ocean House Oyster Bar & Grill in Croton-on-Hudson, likes the “salty-briny-oceany” flavor of East Coast oysters. His wife, Paula, prefers West Coast oysters, which tend to be plumper and often have a “cucumbery finish,” he says.

Those who’ve shied away from oysters for fear of their slimy texture or fishy taste can ease into the experience at Caffe Regatta Oyster Bar & Grill in Pelham, where chef-owner Anthony Labriola offers them cooked, or raw with a choice of two dipping sauces: cocktail and mignonette, made with vinegar, shallots, carrots and celery.

Galvin, who’s encountered diners afraid of the “weird textural thing,” says that most first-timers are won over by the oysters’ flavor, and often come back to order new varieties and ever-larger platters.

Ocean House features a changing variety of East and West Coast Oysters. ( Seth Harrison / The Journal News )

Though he generally sticks to simple presentations of oysters on the half shell, this year’s Valentine’s Day menu at Ocean House offered a playful nod to the bivalve’s reputation with a dish called Ménage à Trois of Oysters.

As far as the mollusks’ power in the love department, Labriola laughs.

“If you’re going out and sharing them with somebody and having a few glasses of wine, I think that alone could set it up, if you’re with the right person,’’ he says.

Where to eat oysters in Rockland and Westchester? Follow this link: The Best Oysters in Rockland and Westchester.

Wondering what oysters taste like? See our guide and glossary, after the jump.

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Species of Oysters

Crassostere vir-ginica (Atlantic)

Waters: From Canada to New York and across the Gulf of Mexico.

Profile: Small and briny with chewy texture. Shells are oval, smooth and two to four inches in length.

Common names: Blue Point, Malpeque, Beausoleil

Ostrea lurida or Conchaphila

Waters: Puget Sound, British Columbia, San Francisco Bay

Profile: Minerally and metallic

Common name: Olympia

Crassostrea gigas (Pacific)

Waters: From Japan to Washington State, and as far south as Australia

Profile: Medium, sweet and creamy with fluted, sharply pointed rough shells

Common names: Miyagi. Also, place names: Fanny Bay, Hog Island

Ostrea edulis (European Flat)

Waters: Europe and Pacific Northwest

Profile: Salty, mineral taste with meaty texture and smooth, flat shell

Common names: Belon, Marennes

Crassostrea sikamea

Waters: Farm-raised in the Pacific Northwest

Profile: Small and creamy with a deep shell and fluted lip

Common name: Kumamoto

Reported by Jessica Yadegaran, Contra Costa Times

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About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and lohud.com, and the founding editor of lohudfood, formerly know as Small Bites. As food editor, she won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.

3 Comments

  1. Thanks for the info on locally served oysters. They are a treat! It was also nice of you to include Chef Anthony Labriola at Caffe Regatta in Pelham. He can surprise you with the fresh seafood and creative fare coming out of his kitchen. Caffe Regatta has been one of the best kept secrets in Westchester…for over a decade.

  2. Caffe Regatta in Pelham. Ate there yesterday with groupon. It was a rip off. The entrees were to be $26 each. The lobster was $20 a lb. the lobster was to be 1lb. & 1/4 which would be $25. They wanted us to pay $6.00 extra each. The spinach was fresh but full of sand. Very unhappy.
    J.D

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