Oysters are born in the summer and get nice and fat with the onset of winter. This year has brought an especially good crop of New York varieties: Pine Island, Fisher's Island, Blue Point, Great South Bay, etc. They're all the same species (Crassostrea virginica), but their flavors are marked by the waters in which they're raised. Here are three top places to slurp your share of the local abundance.
Marlow & Sons is currently serving Pine Island and Fisher's Island oysters. "Deep, cold waters like we have off Long Island tend to make an oyster briny," manager Tom Mylan tells us. (As opposed to warm-water oysters, which are "creamy and fruity." "They get big, too," Mylan says.) Marlow & Sons present the bivalves straight up, in the classic style.
Craftsteak's raw bar isn't famous, but their selection is impressively wide-ranging, including Great South Bay and Widow's Hole oysters. Chef Chris Albrecht: "Both are nice and delicate oysters. The Widows Hole is a little bit more briny, with a flavor like it just came out of the sea. The Fisher Island oyster" — which they're also serving — "has a little less of a briny taste." Craftsteak serves them with preserved horseradish or mignonette sauce.
At the Oyster Bar in Grand Central, they shuck 6,000 oysters a day. Generally, any medium-size Atlantic oyster is called a Blue Point, but Mike Garvey, the general manager, notes that "technically it has to has to spend a certain amount of time in Great South Bay, and most 'Blue Point' oysters don't." Naturally, he carries the real thing, from just off Fire Island, plus ones that live in the Oyster Ponds, out near Orient Point on the North Fork. They come raw, as oysters Rockefeller, and as a roasted appetizer with chipotle hot sauce.