By Danny & The Foodies
For the 35th season, Huntington’s unofficial summertime kickoff officially arrived this Memorial Day weekend.
After all, few things say “summer” more clearly in this neck of the woods than a row of cars parked haphazardly along Route 25A, a row of motorcycles near Stony Hollow Road, and the crunch of rocks under your feet as you bring a paper dish filled with fried clams back to your picnic table.
And trust us – plenty of people were taking advantage of that opportunity this Memorial Day weekend as the weather broke and the sunshine covered the motorcycles propped up alongside the road.
It was perfect “Shack Attack” weather – a good thing, because Mace Colodny and the gang at The Shack in Centerport opened up for the season this weekend. But this year, it feels a bit different perhaps – it’s like they never went away. That might be because Mace is, for the first time, giving Huntington a double feature.
The gregarious Colodny has had the Centerport original since 1980, when he was a 19-year-old moonlighting at CBGB while running the family business. He expanded his reach in September 2013, when he opened The Shack “West” on Huntington village’s Gerard Street, finally solving the age-old predicament of solving a Shack craving when it’s raining – or snowing, for that matter.
With age comes maturity, and that promises to be the case this summer at the Centerport original. At their Huntington locale, Mace and Executive Chef Michael Heinlein said earlier this year they’re “on a quest” to get away from fried food, but clam-diggers have nothing to worry about; the classic fried clams, fish and chips and shrimp remain staples. Some of those new dishes from the Huntington restaurant – the ones that can be recreated in the tight roadside cooking quarters – will be making their way to Centerport, so keep your eyes open.
But the bread and butter on 25A, of course, are fried clam strips, a nod to the Shack’s way-back roots as a simple clam bar in the Depression years. These delightful little morsels are lightly breaded and gently fried, keeping the outside crispy and the clams sweet and tender. As to table etiquette – forget utensils; just squeeze on some lemon and pop them in your mouth with your hands.
There’s plenty more to peruse than clams – you’ve got pasta choices, crab cakes, plenty of lobster selections, burgers, and a good selection of beers on tap, with a focus on local microbreweries and up-and-coming brands.