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We’re gonna need a bigger stomach

Eating at Pier 25a is like entering the belly of a clipper ship. With market-fresh food delivered daily, Bayside’s seafood-continental landmark for the past 28 years offers something for everybody in a family-friendly, date-obliging, private-party accommodating environment.

You cannot help but notice a picture of James Gandolfini with his arms wrapped around brothers Gus and Thomas Theofanis, the establishment’s owners and Bayside residents for nearly three decades. Four episodes of “The Sopranos” – including the season five premiere where the New Jersey mobsters sat down for steaks, lobsters and shrimp cocktails – were filmed at Pier 25a; too bad they didn’t try the spedini.

For a starter, the Pier 25a Combo Special featuring calamari, clams casino, spedini (bread crumbs, mozzarella, deep fried and topped with an anchovy sauce) and two jumbo shrimp is enough to loosen some belt notches even before seeing the main course. For those looking for a crispy on-the-outside, heaven on-the-inside treat, the crab cakes come as a more-than healthy portion that can split three ways. They also offer traditional favorites in a bowl: lobster bisque, clam chowder and a fluctuating soup-of-the-day.

Now, it’s really decision making time. Whether it’s steak and chops, cold buffet with shrimp, crab meat, oysters and clams, three-types of chicken, pasta or market-priced Maine lobsters, a famous Sopranos line comes to mind: “More is lost by indecision than by wrong decision.” The surf and turf combination platter was a perfect mesh of succulent and savory with each bite melting on the palate like a side of dipping butter. Highlights to the chef’s gourmet recommendations include the Bouillabaisse with South African baby lobster tails, shrimp, scallops and more in a brandy sauce; one of the most popular dishes. Also, don’t be afraid to try the Chicken Martini; a boneless breast of chicken dipped in Romano cheese and sautéed in dry vermouth. The chef’s original tweaks to the menu have been what keeps Bayside coming back for more through the generations.

For the insane, there is still another course. While most have wrapped up their lunch for the next day, the dessert menu may be too irresistible to say, “Just the check” after said-meal. There is always room for New York cheesecake, key lime pie, apple crumb pie and other sweet classics; the perfect end to a lunch meeting or a night out on Northern Boulevard; the restaurant’s namesake.

Pier 25a offers a genuine experience-at-sea without taking kitschy over-the-edge. There is a perfect balance in the dining room and on the menus. If you haven’t already, come get caught in Pier 25a’s net where their style is often imitated but never duplicated.

Pier 25a

215-16 Northern Boulevard

Bayside, NY 11361

Tel: 718-423-6395

www.pier25a.com

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 12-10 p.m.

Friday-Saturday 12-11 p.m.

Dine-in

Take out

Wheelchair accessible

Catering up to 125 people

Free Parking

All Major Credit Cards

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