For 33 years, Nicky’s Clam Bar has been the go-to place for families on their way to Fire Island. Here, we find out the restaurant's history of the restaurant and what makes their most popular dish so tasty.
Before catching the Fire Island ferry each summer, Jake and Caroline have a favorite family ritual: lunch at Nicky’s Clam Bar. This small seafood restaurant on the water, run by the Parini family for more than three decades, is a special place for locals and summer visitors. From March to November, they all visit the laid-back wood-shingled cafe in Bayshore, Long Island, for a fresh lobster roll or a steaming bowl of Nicky's famous clam chowder.
But the nautical-themed restaurant serves more than local seafood—it also offers the comfort of family. ‘It’s very cozy,” says Joey Parini. “People call it home because they feel like they’re at home when they’re here.” Joey, who owns the restaurant with his father, Nick, was only 7 years old when his family took over the place. But it wasn’t long before he started cooking in the kitchen at age 9.
Today, he runs the family business, working with his sister, Chrissy Thall, who manages the dining room. And if there seems to be a familiar rapport and an uncanny resemblance among the staff, it’s because cousins, nieces, and nephews bus tables and help out as needed. The siblings agree that working with family isn’t always easy, but any disagreements are resolved with a simple tradition. “We always celebrate the end of the night with a drink,” says Chrissy.
All summer long, they serve favorites, like jumbo shrimp, whole-belly clams shucked fresh everyday, and homemade clam chowder soups. “It can be 100 degrees out and we’ll sell gallons of soup a day!” Joey says with amazement. Though, he notes the most popular dish is the steamers, so we asked Joey to share his family’s special recipe to help you kick off Memorial Day weekend.
Nicky's Famous Steamers
-20-35 Raw Steamer Clams
-2 inches of water
-1 Celery Stalk, chopped
-1 tablespoon Caraway Seed
-1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
Clean the clams first by soaking them in a bowl of brine for an hour (1/3 cup of salt and 1 gallon of cold water). Remove any with broken shells. The clams should still be closed when you’re ready to cook. Drain and rinse. Then place the water, celery, and spices in a saute pan on medium heat. When the water starts steaming, add the clams and place a lid on the pan. When the clams open, remove from the pan and serve with broth from clams and drawn butter.