Recipe, Dave Pasternack, David Pasternack, Ed Levine, The Young Man and the Sea, Esca, Midtown East, Fish Recipes, Where to eat Fish in New York, NY, How to cook fish, Manhattan, Chef, Recommendations, Recipes, Advice, Tips, Maine, Italy, Louisiana, New Orleans, Restaurant Recommendations, Best Fish in New York, Best Fish Chef, Fisherman


The Young Man and the Sea : Recipes and Crispy Fish Tales from Esca

Purchase at:

Q & A


Q. Aside from Esca, you’re in charge of the fish program at Eataly. It’s nice to see some of the unusual fish you’ve been able to get.

A. We’re trying to make it interesting. The good thing is that if I can’t sell it at the market one day, I can sell it out of the restaurant the next. So that is a great option.

Q. What are some of the fish you’re stocking?

A. Today, I had some scorpion fish. I get live langoustines. I sell a lot of those, those are very popular.

Q. Are people intimidated by some of the more unusual fish?

A. That’s the way of the world, man. I mean, I sell twice as much salmon and as I do anything else. It’s just how the mainstream falls in, you know.

Q. Do you think people are intimidated by less known fish or they don’t know how to cook it?

A. I think people are intimidated by fish, period. People are generally intimidated by seafood. But sometimes you have to give people information about it, tell them how to cook it.

Advice / Tips

Q. What would you say is the best way to cook a whole fish?

Photograph courtesy of Dave Pasternack

A. Either grilled or in the oven. In a hot oven. Like 600 degrees.

The hotter the oven, the better, because your going to sear it on the outside and you’re going to get that great skin, the crispiness of the fish.

Q. How long do you cook it for if it’s that hot?

A. It depends on the size of the fish. Let’s say I’m going to cook a Sea Bass for myself, I’d put it in at least a 450 degree F oven and it’s probably going to take 10 to 12 minutes, max.

Q. What do you season it with?

A. I stuff the cavity with lemon, parsley, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper – that’s it. Less is better.

Q. Is there ever a reason not to undercook fish?

A. People ask me all the time ‘how do you cook a piece of fish?’ I say, when you think it’s done, it’s usually done five minutes earlier. So what happens is when they are cooking it and it’s actually done, they say I’ll give it a few more minutes. Pull it out at that point, let it rest like a piece of meat and it’s not so dry, it’ll be moist.

Q. What fish should we not buy, because of sustainability?

A. Chilean sea bass - that’s the main one. You really shouldn’t be eating tilapia. Most of it comes from the Congo. Do you really want to be eating fish that comes from the Congo?

Q. What should we have instead?
A. Snapper, grouper, a lot of domestic fish is really good. Catfish. If you want to eat a piece of fried fish, catfish is good. It’s not my favorite fish in the world, but there is nothing wrong with it, it’s good. But you know you can buy a piece of flounder which is going to be ten times better than a piece of tilapia.

Q. How would you suggest cooking flounder?

A. You can broil it, you can you can sauté it, you can steam it, you can fry it. I mean, the options are many.



Q. Do you have a favorite fish market in Manhattan?

A. Pisacane: they’re good fishmongers and do a good job. They know fish.

I also go by my house in Island Park. My buddy has a fish market called South Shore Fish, it’s been in business for 30 years. He has a lot of local fish, which is what I want to eat. There was a guy in there today, a chef from Dallas, Dean Fearing. I said ‘yo what are you buying’ and he said ‘I’m buying striped bass to cook tonight.’ They catch a lot of them here locally. That is the thing, enjoy them while it’s around.

The problem with some of the of the other places is they just buy cheap fish.

[See details.]

Q. How can someone tell when they walk in whether it’s a good fish market or not?
A. You gotta go on your instincts. I always tell people, more than anything else, it’s a relationship. You have to have a relationship with the monger, the person who works there.

Q. How about the cut of fish, isn’t the cut just as important as the freshness?

A. Absolutely. When you cut fish correctly, it has a certain look to it. It has a certain shape to it. It’s a variety of different things. It’s not cracked, it looks good. It looks like it should look in its natural form.

Q. What knife are you using that you love?
A. I like Dexter, it’s a company that makes commercial knives. They are all good. One of the reasons they are good, is that they maintain an edge really well and they are not overly expensive. They are made for professionals. If you go on a fishing boat, they all use Dexter. If you go to most fish markets around the country, they use Dexters.

[See details.]

Q. Is there a great fish resource book that you can recommend?

A. Alan Davidson makes great books. It’s true information. They are well researched and the information is good. 

[See details.]


Q. Where are you eating fish these days? Where do you go for seafood in New York?

A. I go to my buddy Fast Eddy down at Ed’s Lobster House. I get the lobster roll and chowder.

[See details.]

Q. Do you have a place you like for sushi?

A. I like Seki. Seki is good, it’s open late at night. After work, that’s when you find you do most of your dining.

I like Sushi of Gari. I used to live in the building with the Sushi of Gari on 78th Street. The original one, the tiny one. I lived right down the street, I’ve been on that block for 22 years. I just let him make whatever he wants, I never order. If you are ordering in a sushi bar, you are eating wrong.

But honestly, when I go out, I usually eat meat.

[See details.]

Q. Where do you eat meat?

A. Salumeria Rosi: I eat salami. Actually, I eat whatever Cesare [Casella] tells me to eat. He usually has some slow cooked pasta with meat in it, or Bucatini all'Amatriciana.

[See details.]

Q. Where do you go late at night?

There’s Sake Bar Hagi. It’s in Times Square and open late. I like the yakitori there. I love that place, it’s like a gem, you know.

Sometimes I go down to the Ukrainian diner, Veselka, to have some pierogies. You know, it varies, different things at different times.

[See details.]

Q. Any Italian places in Manhattan that you think are great?

A. Del Posto, Lupa, and Becco.

[See details.]


Q. You’ve been traveling down south to go fishing.

A. I went down New Orleans for bow and arrow fishing with Donald Link, that was fucking great.

Q. Where did Donald take you to eat?

A. We ate at Cochon and we ate at Herbsaint. We had a Friday lunch at Galatoire’s, that was crazy. It was a lot of fun and we went out to this sugar cane plantation, Woodland Plantation... it’s the house on the Southern Comfort bottle.

[See details, also see New Orleans City Guide]


Q. Browne Trading Company out of Portland, Maine recommended you and Esca. I understand you go up there to visit them.

A. Yeah, we have been doing business with them for 20 years, at least. I usually go up there [Portland, ME] for a week.

[See details.]

Q. Any places you like to eat at in Portland?

A. Miyake for sushi and I love Fore Street Grill. Sam [chef Hayward] is great. I love that place.

[See details.]


Q. With your love for Italian food. Any really authentic Italian places you can recommend, anywhere in the world?

A. In the world... I was just at Da Guido in the town of Bra - fucking awesome, man. It’s in the same building as Slow Foods. The Slow Foods’ office is upstairs and it’s at the University of Gastronomy in Bra. Its delicious.

[See details.]

Q. What should we order when we go there?

A. Whatever they tell you. They have a picture of his mom’s hands on the wall, because she makes all the pasta. So, it’s just this old lady’s deformed hand. It’s great.



Details of Dave Pasternack’s recommendations on where to eat in New York, New Orleans, Louisiana, Maine, and Italy.




Midtown West

Italian / Seafood

402 West 43rd Street

New York, NY 10036 (view map) 

T: 212.564.7272 (make a reservation)




Mon - Sat: 12pm - 2:30pm


Mon: 5pm - 10:30pm

Tue - Sat: 5pm - 11:30pm

Sun: 4:30pm - 10:30pm




The Young Man and the Sea : Recipes and Crispy Fish Tales from Esca (buy it)


- Browne Trading Company


Dave Pasternack’s recommendations on where to eat in New York, New Orleans, Louisiana, Maine, and Italy.

Photograph courtesy of Dave Pasternack