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$1 Specials Reduce Summer Oyster Fears in Brooklyn

By Janet Upadhye | July 17, 2012 7:22am | Updated on July 17, 2012 10:14am
A plate of oysters at Cornelius in Prospect Heights.
A plate of oysters at Cornelius in Prospect Heights.
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Janet Upadhye/DNAinfo

BROOKLYN — Some oyster-lovers still cling to the myth that the slimy sea creatures are only safe to eat during months that contain the letter “R.”

But during summer in Brooklyn, bars fill their happy hours with customers looking for a cold beer and an icy plate of raw oysters.

“We definitely sell more oysters in the summer,” said Rocco Malozzi, who works at Cornelius in Prospect Heights. “The other day we sold 600 in three hours.”

Malozzi said that oysters are popular in the summer because of their fresh seawater taste, and the fact that they are a nice light snack. He also added that they go great with an ice-old brew.

Cornelius is one of the many Brooklyn bars that line up Tabasco, lemons, vinegar and horseradish on the bar in front of a large plate of oysters for costumers. According to Erin Norris, who works at Littleneck in Gowanus and grew up very close to Blue Point on the eastern end of Long Island, a few years ago there were very few places in Brooklyn to get the popular shellfish.

A plate of oysters being served at Cornelius.
A plate of oysters being served at Cornelius.
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Janet Upadhye/DNAinfo

“But there are more springing up all the time,” she said. “Brooklyn’s proximity to Blue Point makes it easy to get fresh oysters daily.”

To some, eating oysters is a ritual. DeAnn Thompson grew up in Brooklyn and ate her first oyster in Maryland, bought from a local fisherman. It was there she learned to do what she calls her “oyster thing" — putting cracked pepper, Tabasco and lemon juice on her oysters before sucking them down from the shell.

“It’s all about the way you dress them,” she said. “It’s similar to men — no one wants to date a man in flannel.”

Thompson is a frequent visitor to oyster happy hours all over the city. But her favorite is Blue Ribbon on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope.

To others, oysters can be a great way to get in the mood. When asked if oysters are sexy, Barbara Hubert of Fort Greene said that there could definitely be truth to the idea that oysters are an aphrodisiac food.

DNAinfo.com New York rounded up Brooklyn’s most popular spots for summer’s half-shelled treats.

Bearded Lady in Prospect Heights

This light-filled space with large windows and funky yellow bar stools serves oysters on weekends. Its selection is a surprise based on what’s good. On a recent Friday, the restaurant offered malpeques from Canada and Treasure Islands from Washington. Prices vary until midnight, when all oysters are $1.  Where to find it: 686A Washington Ave.

Maison Premiere in Williamsburg

This oyster hot spot serves more than 30 types of oyster from British Columbia to Maine. Prices vary, but no single oyster costs more than $3.65. The eatery's newly launched summer cocktail menu includes $1 oysters on the weekdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. It also boasts an extensive Absinthe collection. Where to find it: 298 Bedford Ave.

Marlow & Sons in South Williamsburg

Marlow and Sons serves raw oysters from Virginia, Delaware, Maine and New York with prices ranging from $3-3.25 per oyster. In the floor-to-ceiling wooden bar and restaurant, patrons can sit cozily in a booth and enjoy their oysters. Where to find it: 81 Broadway.

Cornelius in Prospect Heights

This cozy bar serves $1 Blue Point oysters from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The atmosphere is friendly, and the bartender seems to know half the people who walk through the door. “I grew up in the area,” said Lajuan White of Clinton Hill. “I come here often and think this is a fantastic spot for oysters.” Regulars have been known to spend hours in the restaurant devouring several dozen of the fresh oysters. Cornelius also has a large selection of bourbons on hand. Where to find it: 18 Cornelia St.

Littleneck in Gowanus

Despite its romantic dim lighting, Littleneck feels like a seafood shack sitting next to the sand. According to the website, it uses all local produce, goods and seafood. The oyster menu (and food menu) changes daily to reflect the freshest available seafoodm with the most expensive oyster running $4. Oysters will be shucked however requested. A regular group of people from France order their oysters only partially shucked, said server Sniff Norris. “They want to see the oyster seize up when the remaining piece is shucked,” she said. “It proves just how fresh the oysters are.” Where to find it: 288 Third Ave.

Lighthouse in South Williamsburg

This family-owned restaurant on the corner of Borinquen Place and South First Street is all windows. And the welcoming demeanor of partial owner Assaf Tamir adds to the fresh, airy feel of the space. The restaurant serves half a dozen oysters for $15, and you can watch the oysters prepared fresh from the raw bar. “We try to get all of our oysters from the East Coast,” Tamir said. “We believe in local.” Where to find it: 145 Borinquen Place.

A plate of oysters at Cornelius.
A plate of oysters at Cornelius.
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Janet Upadhye/DNAinfo

The Bedford in Williamsburg

This rustic corner bar and restaurant serves $1 Blue Points from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Or, for $1.50, diners can try the chef’s hometown specialty — the Charleston-style oyster. According to manager Diane Lowry, that means the oyster is grilled on the half shell in house-made shallot butter. British visitor Ben Burnham recently gave the raw oysters two thumbs up after eating a plate in record time. Where to find it: 110 Bedford Ave.

Blue Ribbon Brasserie in Park Slope

Depending on the season, prices vary on raw oysters. But the daily 5 to 7 p.m. happy hour special serves $1 oysters of a daily variety. The selection is large, including Malpeques, Fisher Islands, Kushis, Kumamotos and more. Grab a seat at the bar near the oyster-shucking station and enjoy all the possibilities. Where to find it: 280 Fifth Ave.

Miller’s Tavern in Williamsburg

Miller’s Tavern serves oysters from the East and West coasts. From 4 to 8 p.m. daily it offers $1 oysters and shrimp cocktails for happy hour. “We serve some of the more rare varieties,” said manager Cody Gaspard. “But we also support local oysters farmers.”  Where to find it: 2 Hope St.

Randazzo's Clam Bar in Sheepshead Bay

According to the website, Randazzo's dates back to 1916. It sits across the street from the sea with open-air dining. The raw bar offers oysters at various prices, and it’s possible to see them shucked in plain view. Where to find it: 2017 Emmons Ave.

Walter Foods in Williamsburg

This upscale restaurant offers an extensive variety of oysters at market price. Servers help patrons to pair the drinks with oysters that best enhance both flavors. Where to find it: 253 Grand St.

Lobster Joint in Greenpoint

It’s hard to beat outdoor picnic tables and umbrellas in the backyard, plus a nautical wheel at the bar to create the feel of a seaside seafood joint. Happy hour on weekdays from 4 to 7 p.m. features $1 oysters, $4 oyster shooters and $4 fried oysters. And since this is an oyster review, the lobsters will remain unmentioned. Where to find it: 1073 Manhattan Ave.