GREENPORT, NY -- A recent Business Week magazine compilation of the oldest restaurants in the U.S. didn't rank as No. 1 the very establishment recognized as the one that has been operated the longest by the same family since inception.
It's Claudio's, located harborside in Greenport on the North Fork of Long Island. The National Restaurant Association authenticates it as the oldest, same-family-run restaurant in the United States.
This charming, maritime restaurant was established in 1870 by Manuel Claudio, a Portugese merchant sailor who gave up the whaling life to establish a presence in this fishing-and-tourist village that now extends to Claudio's Marina, Claudio's Clam Bar, Claudio's Liquors, Claudio's T-Shirts & Souvenirs, and even Crabby Jerry's, which inexplicably eschews the Claudio name.
One side of the establishment looks out over the harbor. The "blind'' side is dominated by a Victorian-style bar salvaged in 1886 from a New York City hotel being demolished. The romantic days of Prohibition rum-running and America's Cup sailing competition touched Greenport heavily, and there is pictorial evidence of those days all around the walls.
The food? Wonderful clams casino using tiny local Little Necks with bacon, garlic, cheese, peppers and spices. Succulent broiled fresh swordfish steak with herbed butter, and an equally succulent fresh flounder in white wine sauce. Pepper-and-herb crusted mahi-mahi. A true New York-style cheesecake. A tangy key lime pie. Good coffee, fine drinks and good service.
Tempted to visit? The restaurant is open from mid-April to December 1st at 111 Main Street. Phone (631) 477-0627.
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