WHERE TO EAT WHEN YOU'RE CRUISING into unfamiliar harbors often feels like an insurmountable problem, especially along the Northeastern Seaboard. While looking around Long Island Sound to create a guide to its gastronomic offerings, we realized that this region hosted so many great dining options that it merited a two-part series.
In this issue of Marinalife, we present a delicious sampling of the Connecticut Shore's waterfront establishments that feature fresh seafood and local cuisine. Stay tuned for Part II when we tour the culinary treasures along the Long Island New York Shore.
La Piccola Casa Ristorante
Dock at Nichols Yacht Yard and treat your crew to great Northern Italian cuisine in an historic house on the waterfront with terrific harbor views.
The Crab Shell
For waterfront dining at Harbor Landing Marina, savor excellent seafood and local favorites. Also check out the outdoor bar with a crab shack and live music.
On the dock and right near the fuel dock at Norwalk Cove Marina, guests can enjoy gourmet seafood offered at a lively seasonal, outdoor venue. (Note: Dozens of restaurants are accessible from Norwalk Cove Marina or Rex Marine Center (via the Cove/Rex shuttle) or from the Norwalk Town Dock.)
Located at Dolphin's Cove Restaurant & Marina and an easy spot to meet crew coming by Rt. 95 or the Port Jefferson Ferry, this family-oriented eatery offers a wide array of dishes from the sea and land and a kids' menu.
Captain's Cove Seaport Restaurant, Bar & Marina
Nested in the waterfront on Black Rock Harbor, it serves battered and fried seafood and shellfish, and has a decent kids' menu. Check out lots of attractions in the area.
Located at Brewer's Stratford Marina, this restaurant presents fine dining in a casual atmosphere. Sample fresh fish and other seafood delights prepared to order.
The Chowder Spot
This food truck at the boat launch ramp in Stratford Harbor dishes up the ultimate in casual grub with a fantastic waterfront view.
(between Stratford and Milford on the Connecticut coast)
Joey C's Boathouse Cantina & Grill
Raise a fork to an all-around good menu with Mexican specialties, as well as local seafood, vegan and gluten-free options, and a large outdoor deck.
Enjoy excellent seafood and classic dishes in a graceful venue overlooking the Housatonic River. Find a nice, secluded bar and lovely banquet room.
Located right on the water with a wonderful menu to match the view. Choose from a variety of seafood dishes ranging from clam chowder to lobster ravioli accompanied by a good raw bar.
After docking at Milford Landing Marina, a one-block walk takes you to lots of great dining choices including:
Serving craft beer in a rustic atmosphere since 1898, the pub's regular patrons come for the casual vibe and nibble on the famous buffalo wings.
Open for lunch and dinner and specializes in New England-style lobster rolls and fried seafood in a casual setting.
American fare, fresh seafood and great appetizers. Take your pick of seating in a formal dining room, lively pub or outside on the deck.
SBC Restaurant & Beer Hall
Enjoy the neighborhood bar groove with handmade cocktails, local craft beer and farm-fresh American dishes at the end of the Wepawaug River.
Dockside Seafood & Grill
Located at Safe Harbor Marina at Bruce & Johnson's. Casual nautical atmosphere with extensive menu of seafood, pasta, and lots more.
Stony Creek Brewery
Head all the way up river and dock at the brewery for craft brews with a view, cocktails and hot pizza.
Experience casual waterfront dining on a large patio on the Branford River with a good grilled seafood menu mixed with SoCal and classic New England cuisine, topped off with craft cocktails.
Located right on the water in Clinton Harbor, it's rumored by Yankee Magazine to have the best lobster roll in New England.
Known for its classic New England seafood and steak dishes, plus a nice waterfront view.
Located at the site of the former BOOM restaurant at Pilot's Point Marina and specializes in hot buttered lobster rolls, fish tacos, hamburgers and more.
A short walk or dinghy ride brings you to Bill's at the Singing Bridge. The seafood shack serves fried fish, lobster rolls and chowder on an outdoor deck. Kids love to throw French fries to the gulls and ducks.
Enjoy fine dining of locally sourced produce, seafood and meats at the Saybrook Point Resort & Marina for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Locals love this classic destination for seafood take out with picnic tables on the water.
On the Waterfront Restaurant & Bar
Relax in casual elegance while dining on Italian-influenced seafood and steaks with stellar views of the Thames River.
Muddy Waters Cafe
Come here for coffees, baked goods, and breakfast or lunch options. It's home of the famous Love Salad, a generous Italian antipasto-type salad with garlic bread. Closest access by water is at the dinghy dock by the town moorings.
Note: Visit the eastern end where Long Island Sound meets Fisher's Island Sound. In Fisher's Island Sound, head up the Mystic River to find Abbott's Lobster in the Rough, Red 36 and lots of restaurants in downtown Mystic by the Bascule Bridge. Also explore Stonington's many culinary offerings including Breakwater and Dog Watch Café.