Billy the Oysterman, New York 1947
Billy The Oysterman started out as a dive in downtown Manhattan at the beginning of the 20th century. This was before the city's oyster beds were polluted and the proprietor served salty mollusks that were raw, boiled or stewed and customers simply threw the used oyster shells on the floor. We're not sure if the owners of the restaurant took over the name as a tribute to Billy but in the 30s and 40s this was one of the most famous seafood restaurants in New York. As this 1947 menu shows, by that time oysters were bought in from other parts of the US and the menu was filled with other seafood choices.
"Billy the Oysterman of New York City, famous throughout the country for his glorious fish dinners, when asked the secret of his supply of fish paid a similar tribute to the products of the dairy. ‘I buy fine fish, but it isn’t the fish; it’s the way I cook them. I make them literally swim in butter – the best butter on the market. The best steak, chop, or fish is ruined unless you use plenty of fresh, good butter.” Maurice, Arthur Bartlett. The New York of the Novelists. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1917: 245. via The New York City Restaurant Archive
Courtesy Private Collection.
Each print is accompanied by a copy of the interior menu where available.
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