Love shack! New Gowanus clam stand is a hit

Love shack! New Gowanus clam stand is a hit
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Brooklyn’s new DIY clam shack is on a roll!

“It’s been really busy — the first night we opened we were totally slammed and ran out of all of the food and most of the beer,” said Aaron Lefkove, owner of Littleneck, the recently opened seafood bar on Third Avenue near Carroll Street in Gowanus.

“Not only were there lots of familiar faces and people from the neighborhood, but there were definitely people that I’ve never seen before. It’s very reassuring when it’s not just your friends.”

It doesn’t hurt that Littleneck is one of the few places in the borough that serves a New England-style full-belly clam roll; although you’ll have to shell out more than a few clams — 16 to be exact — to get it.

It also doesn’t hurt that the man behind the fryer and steamer pots is none other than master restaurateur Alan Harding.

“I was just looking for a project,” explained Harding, who’s opened such seminal institutions as the Gowanus Yacht Club, Patois, and the Farm on Adderley.

“It’s very daunting to start something from scratch — to find the real estate, get the investors, concept the restaurant, build it,” he added. “I like to cook, and anything I can do to cook is fine. That’s what these guys needed, and it’s only a bonus to not have to put up with the other bull—t.”

Harding’s more than happy to concentrate on what to put in the $18 lobster rolls — namely, chunks of tender Maine lobster, finely diced celery blanched in the salted seawater, and a mayonnaise-based mix he considers a closely guarded trade secret.

“I have this somewhat perfectionist attitude, and am very enthralled lately with making food that only has three or four items, but where every ingredient is treated properly,” he said.

So far, Littleneck’s menu is as streamlined as the ingredients in that lobster roll — New England Clam Chowder ($7), Steamed clams in butter, beer, and chilies (market price), and a burger made from beef brisket and Angus shoulder ($11), along with a small selection of wine and craft beers.

A fuller menu will appear in a couple of weeks, Lefkove said.

“But one thing at a time. We’re still getting our sea legs, if you will,” he added.

Littleneck [288 Third Ave. at Carroll Street in Gowanus, (718) 522-1921].

Reach reporter Sarah Zorn at [email protected].

Legendary kitchen maestro Alan Harding is manning the pots and deep fryers at Littleneck, the new clam shack on Third Avenue in Gowanus.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini