For an island at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, Manhattan has surprisingly few good seafood restaurants, especially downtown. But Aquagrill has a friendly staff, comfortable decor, and an extensive menu that places it among the best. Chef/owner Jeremy Marshall mans the stove, while his wife, Jennifer, works the host stand. Specialties include tiny pillows of garlic-drenched escargot baked in homemade puff pastry and falafel-crusted salmon served on hummus with tomato and cucumber. Then there's a vast selection of oysters on the half shell and many types of grilled fresh fish. Of the desserts, don't miss the skillet cake or the pink grapefruit gratin.
Address: 210 Spring St., at 6th Ave.
Phone: 212/274-0505. Reservations essential. AE, DC, MC. Closed Mon.
Blue Water Grill
A copper-and-tile raw bar anchors one end of this warm, sweeping room of indigo, siena, and yellow. The original 1904 molded ceiling and marble everywhere recall the space's former life as a bank. Strong on fresh seafood served neat (chilled whole lobster, shrimp in the rough), the menu also has international flair-Moroccan-spiced red snapper, Maryland crab cakes, warm shrimp cocktail in bamboo steamers with Japanese and Shanghai sauces-and simple preparations that issue forth from a wood-burning oven. For dessert, try the brownie ice cream sundae. A lounge and dining room in the basement vault features live jazz.
Address: 31 Union Sq. W, at 16th St.
Phone: 212/675-9500. Reservations essential. AE, DC, MC, V.