SALT Waterfront Bar and Grill
To judge by the weekend crowd, so did a lot of summertime visitors and year-rounders. The joint is jammed. They arrive by boat, by car, on foot; in shorts, in groups, with kids and without.
The buoyant restaurant is the main reason. There's a wine-tasting room that specializes in local vineyards. And, nearby, a converted scalloping schooner from 1929 has been turned into a bar, for raw clams and for drinks.
SALT Waterfront Bar + Grill is the full name, and it pretty much covers the place, which is run by locals Ali Bevilacqua, formerly of Planet Bliss; and Keith Bavaro, ex-Sweet Tomato's. The chef is Carrie Mitchum.
The trio has fashioned a colorful, indoor-and-outdoor destination at the Island Boatyard and Marina. Shelter Island itself makes you feel removed from the higher pitch of East End frenzy. This site at the end of South Menantic Road doubles down.
So, sip a "dark and stormy," made with rum, ginger beer and fresh lime, or a margarita sparked with muddled jalapeño.
And nibble on blackened fish tacos, these with the most populist of Long Island seafood, bluefish. They're good. Satisfying Caribbean pulled-chicken sliders arrive with cabbage slaw and mellow flavors.
Chicken wings with "secret hot sauce" are plump, but keep the heat in check. The generous lobster roll is borne by a toasted brioche bun. Zesty gumbo has just enough spice, with grilled polenta as a centerpiece.