A Half-Dozen of the Best Oyster Restaurants in NYC and The Wines To Pair With Them

Posted October 21, 2014

WineLibrary Staff


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By Jon Troutman

Moonshoals. Naked Cowboys. Hama Hamas.

These aren’t 80’s cocktails -- they’re different types of Oysters. These and a wide variety of others are being plucked from seabeds, and shucked at restaurants and raw bars, each with its own unique qualities. Terroir is as much a thing when it comes to Oysters as it is wine.

There’s never been a better time to be a lover of the bivalve. Gone are the days of “only eat oysters in months that end in ‘R’”. There may be some truth to the notion that the fall and early winter are the ideal months, but eating ‘em is really a year-round affair (and totally safe).

It’s hard to walk a New York block without getting an offer for an Oyster Happy Hour. The selections are plentiful, with a broad spectrum of different types represented, from the eastern waters of Long Island and Cape Cod, to the western bodies along California and Washington.

What you may not have known is that before stock exchanges and tech companies reigned supreme in The Big Apple, a big driver of Manhattan’s economy its wild oyster farms. That industry has all but died out, but an evolved “Oyster Economy” is alive, well, and kicking, with more restaurants than ever featuring top notch, unique and artisan oysters. We plucked some of our favorite spots, with a list of what to wash down those salty, briny bivalves with.

  1. The 2005 Luneau-Papin "Le D’Or" Muscadet at Maison Premiere (Williamsburg, Brooklyn): This cocktail-centric spot has arguably the widest variety of oyster selections in the city, which rotates with regularity so you’ll never grow tired of it. Despite its serious spirits, they have far from mailed it in with their wine list.  

  2. NV Ruinart Blanc de Blancs at Balthazar (SoHo): Restauranteur extraordinaire Keith McNally’s flagship Parisian-style bistro is perhaps the city’s most quintessential spot to belly up for Bluepoints (Long Island’s most renowned type of oyster since the early 1800’s). But be patient - there’s often long waits at all hours of the day. Available in half-bottle, this 100% Chardonnay Champagne will help you endure any line.

  3. The 2012 Tyler Chardonnay Sanford & Benedict at The Dutch (SoHo):  Chef Andrew Carmellini is absolutely en fuego. The Dutch is one of his many “see and be seen” spots, where fruits of the sea take center stage. This Cali Chardonnay has lovely delicacy and minerality to match the half-shell variety, and enough weight to stand up to the epic Oyster Sliders that (if you nail your order) follow. A one-stop wine, if there ever was one!

  4. Porterhouse Oyster Stout at Grey Lady (Lower East Side): Inspired by all things Nantucket, this place likes to keep it (food, life, and service) uncomplicated. They often feature East Coast Oysters (unsurprisingly), perfectly suited to a round and toasty pint of Oyster Stout.

  5. The 2013 Zarate Albarino at The John Dory Oyster Bar: With its crisp, bracing acidity and lime notes, you can skip squeezing a lemon, and slurp back the ever-rotating selection of west and east coast oyster varieties as-is.

  6. The 2000 Krug Champagne at Per Se: Perhaps the country’s most iconic fine dining dish, Thomas Keller’s Oysters & Pearls is the kickoff to all meals at both his 3 Michelin Star restaurants, Per Se and The French Laundry. Featuring Island Creek Oysters, Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca, and White Sturgeon Caviar, it’s at once rich and mouth coating, yet delicate and nuanced -- just like these bubbles to accompany it.

Product Label.

Ruinart Blanc De Blanc

93 Wine Spectator

Item: 30632

750 mL

Retail: $81.99

$67.09 per btl

Product Label.

Krug Champagne

96+ John Gilman - View from th...

Item: 77374

750 mL

Retail: $299.99

$184.09 per btl

Product Label.

Domaine Luneau Papin Muscadet Le...

94 John Gilman - View from th...

Item: 82772

750 mL

Retail: $49.99

$33.25 per btl

Item: 83667

750 mL

Retail: $24.99

$19.98 per btl

Product Label.

Tyler Chardonnay Sanford And Benedict

95 Jeb Dunnuck - Robert Parke...

Item: 83747

750 mL

Retail: $74.99

$59.97 per btl