Just past the Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center (aka Atlantis Marine World), on Main Street in Riverhead, is a quaint restaurant on the water. This family-owned business has been open for 17 years and they are not stopping anytime soon, especially since the brand new Hyatt opened. Jerry Sr. started the restaurant and now Jerry Jr. is running the kitchen, being prepped to take over.
Going to Jerry’s was a great opportunity to open my boyfriend’s eyes up to seafood; thankfully it didn’t backfire and he blissfully ate everything. The first appetizer we shared was a seared white tuna coated in sesame seeds, topped with a wasabi aioli, and it all sat atop a seaweed salad. The tuna itself had the same texture as red tuna, but slightly more fishy, and the wasabi was not spicy at all, just giving the dish a creaminess. Next, Jerry Jr. was kind enough to make a sampler platter for us, which consisted of jumbo coconut shrimp, pork pot stickers, Buffalo wings, and fried artichokes. All four were delicious. The shrimp was dipped in a Yuengling Beer batter and encrusted with coconut, which really came through, and paired with maple aioli; the pot stickers had an amazing soy-ginger glaze all around; the Buffalo wings were coated in a sticky, molasses sauce that is a secret family recipe; and finally the artichokes were soaking in a Francaise-style, white wine sauce, with a slightly vinegary bite.
To top off the appetizer portion of our meal the chef brought out fried calamari and escargot. The calamari had a light, crispy batter and came with a mildly spicy banana pepper marinara. The snails sat inside crimini mushroom caps topped with garlic-butter sauce and breadcrumbs. Each was delectable and we ate them all!
It was time for the entrees, which we chose ourselves. I ordered the scungilli, or conch, marinara over linguine and my guest ordered the pine nut crusted grouper. My pasta was cooked perfectly al dente and, again, the marinara had a nice kick to it. The conch had a distinct flavor, which was different from anything else I’ve ever had. The grouper was so moist and flaky it melted in our mouths, and the pine nuts gave the fish the crunch it needed. The mushroom rice pilaf that accompanied it was also very nice—fluffy and flavorful.
Chef Jerry insisted that we try their famous ice cream-stuffed crepe with homemade fudge sauce and whipped cream—we couldn’t say no. He brought out a giant log covered in chocolate and swirls of whipped cream. The crepe was thin, the ice cream was luscious and the fudge sauce was absolutely decedent. I don’t know how, but we ate the whole thing! By the end of the meal we could hardly stand, let alone walk to our car, but it was worth it.
So, the next time you take your kids to the aquarium, stop for a memorable meal right next door at Jerry and the Mermaid. You’ll be glad you did.
Jerry and the Mermaid, 469 East Main Street, Riverhead, NY 11901, 631-727-8489. www.jerryandthemermaid.com.