SHEEPSHEAD BAY – When the owners of two of Brooklyn’s most beloved seafood restaurants are asked what they think of their closest competitor, they don’t stick together or give a rude response.
That’s because when Randazzo’s Clam Bar and Clemente’s Maryland Crab House – both located on Emmons Avenue – compete against each other, it’s not ruthless. They respect each other, probably because the restaurant business is tough and only another restaurateur knows what it is.
“Jimmy is very respectful of everyone,” said Heather McCormick, manager at Clemente’s. Husband and wife owners James and Tara Muir opened their restaurant in 2001. In addition to being co-owner of the restaurant, Tara Muir is a teacher at St. Bernadette Catholic Academy in Dyker Heights.
“The restaurant industry is very competitive. But I would never say anything bad about another restaurant. I know how difficult it is to do. We take pride in our food and what we do here. This is our reason for being, ”said Elena Randazzo, Randazzo’s fifth generation owner.
His great-great-grandfather, Sam Randazzo, opened a fish market on the Lower East Side in 1920, moved to Sheepshead Bay in 1932, and expanded his business to include dishes like fried calamari with tomato sauce. spicy.
Who has the best lobster? Both restaurants claim the title.
Randazzo’s serves Fra Diavolo (Italian for “brother devil”) lobster, which Elena Randazzo described as “something to love”.
Clemente’s menu boasts his 1¼ pound lobsters served with corn on the cob and a choice of rice or tomato.
One of the most popular dishes at both restaurants is the fried squid. “I would say it’s one of the things people order the most,” Randazzo said. “Our calamari are great. People love it, ”boasted McCormick.
Given its name, Randazzo’s serves a lot of clam dishes. “After all, we are a clam bar,” Randazzo said. “We serve it the way you want – raw, baked, stuffed – you name it,” she added.
Randazzo’s is such a mainstay of Sheepshead Bay that customers come from all over to eat there, the owner said.
“For people, it’s their first stop or their last stop, whether they’re coming into the neighborhood or leaving. We also receive people from JFK (airport). They come off the highway and come here. They want to experience Randazzo, ”she said.
Randazzo’s is in its current location at 2017 Emmons Ave. since 1986. “We don’t like change. It makes me extremely proud! Randazzo said, adding that customers find the familiarity heartwarming.
At Clemente’s, crabs are king – it’s no surprise, given the name of the restaurant. Diners can order Blue Claw Crabs, Snow Crab Legs, and Clemente Crab Cakes at Chipotle Remoulade, among other crab-centric dishes.
The menu also includes blue tip oysters and Rockefeller oysters.
Clemente’s, which is in the same location at 3939 Emmons Ave. Since opening 20 years ago, has been a favorite dining spot not just for Brooklyn residents but for the entire tri-state area, McCormick said. “People come here from New Jersey, Connecticut,” she said.
Although they are friendly competitors, the two restaurants have something in common: both take pride in their family work environment. “Jimmy and Tara treat everyone here on staff like family. And they hire locals. I’ve been here for 14 years,” said McCormick.
At Randazzo, the staff includes people whose parents worked there. “Our staff are like family,” said Randazzo.
As seafood lovers return to Sheepshead Bay’s waterfront for a post-pandemic dinner, they will find friends – not enemies – waiting for them to serve them.