Even at 3 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co. is packed like a sardine can (the salmon spot was slammed mid-week, too). So it’s no surprise that fifth-generation fishmonger Vinny Milburn and former Pianos booker Adam Geringer-Dunn, co-owners of Greenpoint’s newest fish market and lobster joint, are starting to crack up. After the first ten days, when many restaurants are already floundering, this corner spot is making waves. We fought off the steady stream of customers to see how things are going.
How have things been since you opened?
Adam: We’ve been busy. We’ve been really busy. We expected to be busy; I don’t think we realized how busy we would be. It’s great, though. The response is the same from everybody: “We’ve been waiting for this for so long, it’s exactly what the neighborhood needed, we’re so happy you’re here.”
How many days have you been open?
Vinny: Ten days.
Adam: Is it ten? Ten full days? Last Wednesday?
Adam: This is day ten?
Adam: Yeah. [Laughs] We’re not getting a whole lot of sleep right now.
Vinny: Someone asked me yesterday, “When did that mackerel come in?” And I was like, “Oh, it came in on Wednesday.” He was like, “Last Wednesday?” I was like, “Yeah.” He was like, “You mean yesterday?” I was like, “Oh wait. No.” I had no idea what day it was. It’s been pretty busy so far.
It’s like you have a new baby.
Adam: Yep. Totally. We’re starting to lose our minds a little bit.
Vinny: I can’t believe it’s three o’clock already.
Adam: Yeah, today’s flying.
Have you run into any challenges or anything you weren’t expecting?
Adam: We’ve been blowing out of fish. But we want to be running out of fish by the end of the night so we can bring in fresh fish.
Vinny: I bring in fresh fish daily. So I don’t want to keep anything in the walk-in. I want to have the whole case cleared. It’s been pretty clear every night, which is awesome.
What do you do with leftover fish?
Vinny: We haven’t had any yet.
Adam: No. But like for salmon, we’re bringing in the whole fish and butchering it in half, so there’s meat left on the salmon frame. So we’re starting to scrape that off and we’re working on a salmon tartar kind of thing.
Vinny: [Brings out a huge fish head] Every single head, we sell. People use these to make soups. This collar is the best part of the fish right here.
Adam: This meat right here is kind of like a bone-in steak. It has a piece of cartilage, so when you roast it, all the flavor comes out from the bone and it’s really rich.
What about your lobster rolls? What makes them so great?
Adam: A little bit of lemon juice. And a couple other things. We’re bringing the lobster in the morning, steaming it, and hand-picking it every day. And then we make it to order. So we have this big lobster that was steamed and picked, usually within the hour. And then when you order a lobster roll, we’re making each roll to order, and we’re adding in the other ingredients. And then putting it on a toasted bun. It’s like insanely fresh. I think people might think we’re crazy. We’re starting to think we’re a little crazy, too.
Have you heard about the boat docked off of Tribeca that’s selling $25 lobster rolls?
Vinny: I mean, that’s the city.
Adam: Yeah, and it’s kind of what we’re getting away from here. We have more casual, affordable, approachable pick-up seafood. We don’t do an oyster happy hour because our oysters are reasonably priced all the time. We don’t have anything that’s $3. All the oysters are $1.25.
Vinny: [Shakes his head]
Adam: What? What are you shaking your head at?
Adam: I’m sorry. I take it back. We’re at $1.75. If we do a dollar happy hour, then everything goes up to three bucks. We’re trying to keep it reasonably priced all the time.
What’s your best-selling item so far?
Vinny: [Laughs] It’s really weird. Little neck clams to go. Hundreds of them. Probably a thousand of them.
Adam: A couple dozen at a time.
Adam: And cook with them, yeah. What’s cool is people are starting to tag their food that they’re cooking at home, they tag us. That’s what’s really fun. I get a kick out of that. People are adventurous, and people are excited to have this here. We’ve got regulars already.
Check out Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co. at 114 Nassau Avenue, open noon to 9 p.m. daily.