There are lots of fair to middling shuckers on the North Shore, and a few great ones here and there, but you don’t get a nickname like Jimmy Clams unless you’re the fastest, most efficient shucker around. As such, he is something of a North Shore legend. Still, his best days may be yet to come, and that’s because Jimmy Clams is fisherman Jimmy Schultz, and Jimmy Schultz runs Schultzy’s, a promising new Bayville cafe that upholds its sea-to-table ethos with deadly seriousness.
“Hempstead Harbor, off Lattingtown,” he barked in response to a diner who’d inquired about his clams’ provenance ($9 per half-dozen). It was Wednesday evening and Schultz was stationed at his raw bar, which is just behind the main bar at his 44-seat restaurant in the middle of town. Somewhat disappointingly, he was only shucking at medium speed, carefully arranging salmon-colored bellies on platters of ice for delivery to hungry patrons. Then again, the distractions he faced were near constant. It was only Schultzy’s fourth Wednesday evening yet the place was packed, his wife Vicky deftly handling host duties and preventing chaos, while Schultz himself caromed from bar to kitchen to dining room and back again.
“If I’m not catching the shellfish myself, I’m getting them right off the boat, every day,” he said. Schultz, along with a partner, rakes beds off Glen Cove and Oyster Bay for mollusks when he’s not at the restaurant. What about the sea scallops, seared and served with a saffron risotto ($31)? “I’m getting dayboat scallops from New Bedford, Mass. daily.” The lobsters arrive on a similar schedule. “Every day we get and cook and shuck them for lobster rolls and all the lobster dishes.” A lobster roll with fries goes for $29, a lobster bake — with corn and red potatoes along with a 1 1/2-pound crustacean — for $36.
It’s heartening to see how much of Schultzy’s fare is harvested just a few miles away, in the same waters its owner, a Glen Cove native, has fished ever since getting his own boat at age 13. Still, he’s 48 now, and hand-raking shellfish takes its toll on a man, especially when the mud he’s raking is 80 feet down. “The physical labor of clamming is just incredible. It’s just brutal on your body.”
That brutality provided a huge incentive for Schultz to expand into the comparatively less exhausting business of catering several years back. He and his team now set up raw bars at events large and small, mostly in the summertime, and North Shore residents can also purchase clambakes to-go on his website, longislandrawbar.com, which delivers ready-to-bake buckets filled with everything from Little Necks and lobster, andouille sausage to corn on the cob ($44.99-$79.99).
“We used to drive our bikes down to Pryibil Beach and go into Dosoris Pond and fiddle around with clams when we were like 8, 9, 10 years old,” recalled Schultz, one of those rare folks who actually grew up to be what he dreamed of as a child. “I liked the freedom of being on the water. It was really cool just being outside in nature earning an honest living.” But while Jimmy Clams might not get outdoors as much these days, for Jimmy Restaurant the living is as honest as ever.
“People love this place,” he said with a smile.
Schultzy’s is at 265 Bayville Ave. in Bayville, 516-588-6240, longislandrawbar.com. Opening hours are Wednesday through Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for lunch, and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner. Closed Tuesday.