Jim Schultzy is, first and foremost, a clammer.
The first chapter of his story sees him as a 13-year-old boy on a skiff in Oyster Bay picking clams and selling them to wholesalers out of the trunk of his mother’s car.
Fast forward 40-plus years through the reality of life as a Long Island shell fisherman, a wildly successful raw bar catering business, the loss of his father, and the seemingly unattainable dream of a family-run local bar and eatery, and you’ll find him at his eponymous restaurant on Bayville Avenue just north of the Bayville Bridge that he opened two years ago.
Jim may very well possess a bit of Peter Pan syndrome, still the kid pulling clams out the Sound, but now grown up and developing recipes, tending bar, shucking oysters, and generally holding court over one of the most lively destination restaurants in the Northeast that just so happens to be right here on Long Island.
I sat with him over lunch at the bar on a Wednesday. Despite most of Bayville being shut down for the season, the place was jammed with locals and diners from further afield.
Read on, make a plan to visit, and be sure to order the Beaujolais oysters.
They keep their bar high and know that success is won in the small details. Step through the doors on any given afternoon, evening or for Sunday brunch and you’re greeted like you’re home from college for Thanksgiving break.
Jim will charismatically and magnetically shake your hand across the bar and pour you a drink and introduce you to the guy sitting on the stool next to you (who I can neither confirm nor deny is a celebrity).
As Jim says, “cool sh— happens when you engage with people at the bar or tableside.”
How right he is.
He will be the first to admit that his success in the restaurant game can be attributed to luck and impeccable timing, but I am here to attest that it’s also because he is a tremendous host with hands-on knowledge of the best the North Shore and Long Island Sound have to offer.
So now that you’ve met the locals, ordered a crisp glass of Sauv Blanc and those Beaujolais are being shucked, what else to order? My advice is to go hungry.
At lunch try the bisque, some baked stuffed clams or a few pristine jumbo shrimp on ice. The apple and fennel salad is good for the palate and your waistline, but seeing as bikini season is a faraway blink on the horizon I would suggest diving headfirst into the lobster roll; Connecticut or Maine, it’s inconsequential, so go with a friend and order both. The shrimp po’ boy, the crispy fish tacos and the burger are all wow, and they come with fries so you get the idea.
The lobster bake is the way to go for dinner. It arrives literally hanging off the plate with potatoes so buttery and crisp you might wonder why all potatoes don’t taste this good. His linguini with clams leads me to believe there’s some Italian influence in either Jim or his wife’s DNA. Blackboard specials deserve consideration, especially since Jim takes great care in dreaming up new and marvelous approaches with everything from crawfish and shrimp gumbo to Berkshire pork (bourbon cherry reduction, Boursin mash).
Schultzy’s is serious about brunch on Sundays. The loaded bloody Marys (get a load of that crab claw hanging precipitously off the glass) deserve an Insta post, and the hardest decision you’ll have to make is sweet or savory. Both answers are correct. The freshly baked croissant French toast is a winner and the lobster Benedict or fluffy omelets will seal the deal on your loyalty.
Desserts come to Bayville by way of Park Slope, Brooklyn, and Louis Baricelli (he may be sitting at the table next to you!) of Cousin John’s Bakery. For me, it’s the key lime pie. Definitely the key lime pie.
So why make the trek to Bayville off-season?
Because there’s no better time to establish your spot at the bar or at that cozy high-top table in the corner by the window. The sooner you become a regular, the sooner Bayville becomes a second home. Trust me, Schultzy’s is as spectacular in the fall and winter as it is in summer. Take a drive from wherever you are, ask for Jim, and don’t forget to tell him who sent you.
- Schultzy’s Restaurant
- 265 Bayville Avenue
- Bayville, N.Y.
Top: Jim Schultzy inside of his Schultzy’s Restaurant in Bayville. (Credit: Instagram/schultzysrestaurant)