Six Fabulous Restaurants in Provincetown, Massachusetts

Pan-Roasted Lobster - The Lobster Pot Photo Mike Potenza

I love Provincetown for all it has to offer. I appreciate her pristine beaches, the stellar art galleries, and the thrilling whale watching. Plus, it’s been a haven for performers and artists of all types for decades in a seaside village stamped with an “anything goes” attitude. But for me, Provincetown is also a great foodie destination.

From the time that the Pilgrims first landed here in 1620 (five weeks later they arrived in Plymouth) the entire New England coast was teeming with copious amounts of fresh fish and crustaceans; hence, it logically became a prosperous industry for the locals. There was so much cod off the coast of Provincetown and other nearby ports, that they named the whole Cape…Cape Cod.

Hundreds of years ago, lobster was so bountiful along the New England coast it was considered “poor man’s food”. People got tired of the shellfish and fed it to prisoners, livestock, and indentured servants. By the mid 1800s Provincetown’s commercial fishing and whaling industry had gone into decline, but in 1873 the first railroad was built carrying tourists to Provincetown eager to explore this paradise referred to as the Outer Cape. At this time, lobster was promoted as a “fancy food” and segued into a delicacy savored by the rich. So, it’s fitting to begin this culinary exploration with one of the most iconic restaurants in Provincetown.

The Lobster Pot
Since 1979, the McNulty family and the Lobster Pot’s dazzling neon signs have welcomed diners to their bayside waterfront dining rooms with open arms. Every year that I make a pilgrimage to Ptown, I’ll dine at the Lobster Pot, at least once. Often, I’ll order their classic New England Clam Bake which includes a bowl of clam chowder, steamed mussels, corn on the cob, red potatoes, and a 1 ¼ pound boiled lobster. Takes me right back home, having grown up in Andover, just north of Boston. Another huge hit with diners is their Pan Roasted Lobster flambeed with brandy then roasted in the oven and served with an herb butter.

Instinctively I want to stick with lobster, but I challenge myself to enjoy dishes and recipes I’m not familiar with. Their Portuguese soup rivals all other recipes that I’ve tried. But don’t miss their seafood soup, Sopa Do Mar. It’s full of mussels, shrimp, calamari, fish, andouille sausage, Canjun spices and Creole sauce with orzo. Super fresh and spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. I also love their blackened swordfish, which is served with a leek-cauliflower mash and prepared to perfection.

The Lobster Pot is celebrating their 42nd anniversary this year, and it’s the perfect place to dine with family and friends and enjoy some of the best food in New England. 321 Commercial Street. Tel: 508- 487-0842.

Sal’s Place
This restaurant is named after Sal Del Deo. He arrived in Provincetown at age 18 and needed to support himself as an artist, so he opened a restaurant with his friend Ciro Cozzi. Together they created Ciro and Sal’s. After that success, Sal left to open up an establishment on his own, Sal’s Place, in the West End of town. For over five decades, Sal’s has been offering traditional Italian cuisine. The restaurant was purchased in 2016 by an Irish woman, Siobhan Carew, and she and her family are carrying on with Sal’s Italian theme with Chefs Chris Rainville and Marc Orfaly at the helm.

Pepper-Crusted Shrimp - Sal's Place - Photo Alison Gootee

I recently spoke with Ms. Carew’s oldest daughter, Michela, and asked her what were her customer’s favorite dishes. “Our menu changes seasonally, but I think that would be the Lobster Linguine a la vodka, and the Vongole: linguini with local clams, anchovy, white wine, capers, garlic and lemon.”

According to local songwriter, musician, and yarn spinning Vaudvillian, Zoe Lewis, her definite favorite appetizer at Sal’s is their Charred Octopus served with garbanzo bean puree, toasted pepitas, chili oil and parsley.

In the past I’ve loved both their Pepper Crusted Shrimp served with farro, zucchini, green olives, lemon, and parsley, as well as Sal’s Panzanella Salad, with cucumber, red onion, house-made country bread, charred tomato, and mint tossed with a light vinaigrette. 99 Commercial Street. Tel: 508-487- 1279.

The Pointe Restaurant + Wine Bar
I love their motto: Farm to Table, Pier to Plate. The Pointe is located up on Bradford Street and this beautiful Inn has charming views of Provincetown below. Food & Wine’s Top Ten Chef, Robbin Haas, has created a menu that draws from the freshest locally sourced seafood the Cape has to offer. Plus, Chef Haas brings to the table his worldwide experience considering he’s worked in Russia, Finland, Europe, Mexico, South and Central America, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean.

Pan-Seared Cape Halibut - The Pointe Photo Credit The Pointe

The Pointe’s traditional Clam Chowder is delicious with a surprise addition of smoked bacon. 
Another great starter is their Fried Calamari. Crispy crunch on the outside, tender on the inside. 
I like mine with the Fra Diavolo dipping sauce. Devotees of The Pointe rave about their filet 
mignons, lobsters, and the crab cakes, but their absolute most loved dish is their Pan Seared Cape 
Halibut served with Parmesan risotto and English pea sauce.

The Pointe is one of the few upscale establishments in this very casual resort town. The servers are warm and welcoming, top notch but not stuffy. They are there when you need them, but don’t hover.

Tom Walter, one of the owners of the Inn and President of Applied Hospitality, Inc., takes great pride in the Pointe as well as the other areas of the business. Recently. He shared some great news with me: “Arthur, we are also currently creating an expansive outdoor dining patio overlooking the Provincetown Monument.” 82 Bradford Street. Tel: 508-487- 2365.

The Canteen
This is your modern-day seafood shack with a very lively back garden located on the bay. A super great place to drop in for lunch, and where everything is made from scratch. Their seafood is locally sourced and they buy potatoes for their French fries just up the coast in Maine. They offer warm and cold Lobster Rolls on brioche buns. I prefer the hot buttered version, the cold is prepped more like a lobster salad, but both are refreshing and delicious. Made from whole Provincetown lobsters, they are shucked daily and cooked just to the point of doneness, hence, they present the most tender meat that melts in your mouth. A gift from the sea.

Hot Buttered Lobster - The Canteen - Photo Credit Christine-Hochkeppel

I had the good fortune of speaking with Rob Anderson who is the chef and co-owner of the restaurant, with his partner Loic Rossignon. I had to ask what their top-sellers were besides the lobster rolls.

“Our crispy brussel sprouts. Another popular dish is the cod banh mi sandwich. In addition to that, Frose (frozen rose) is a big seller at our bar and this year our Funfetti cake has been rolling out the door faster than we can make it. I’m sure it will be a bit hit this summer.”

Another sandwich that has risen in popularity is the Lobster Grilled Cheese. Chunks of fresh lobster topped with provolone and herbed mascarpone served on sourdough.

Local Grant King shared with me his thoughts about the restaurant. “The Canteen has two of the most community-minded owners, Rob and Loic, and they have wonderfully varied menus. Their weekly International Theme Dinners get raves. I’ve never had a bad meal here.”

Speaking of “theme nights,” past offerings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays nights have featured: Lebanese, Thai, Ramen, Irish, and Indian specialties. 225 Commercial Street. Tel: 508-487-3800.

Large Seafood Sampler - The Red Inn Photo Credit Dick Mitchell

The Red Inn

The Red Inn scores #1 in my book for most romantic Inn and restaurant in Provincetown. Built in 1805 as a private residence, it was Mary Wilkinson who opened up the home as an inn in 1915 just as the roses that surround the beautiful property were in full bloom. Since then it’s been welcoming guests from all over the world.

The restaurant overlooks Provincetown Harbor offering gorgeous views of the bay and further out to Long Point (the absolute tip of Cape Cod’s finger) where its historic lighthouse winks at you throughout the night.

Philip Mossy is Executive Chef at the Inn, and diners rave about his Long Island Smoked Duck, the Pepper Crusted Filet, and the Pan Roasted Local Cod. I think there’s something so elegant about sitting at the bar and ordering the Large Seafood Sampler which includes: 12 oysters, 6 clams, 6 shrimp, two half lobsters, and a drink of your choice. The oysters are from Wellfleet, just two towns south of Provincetown. World renowned, Wellfleet oysters are traditionally long and strong shelled. Their bodies are plump and sweet with the perfect balance of brine. Add a smart cocktail and I’m in heaven. I also adore the Inn’s lobster sliders served on mini buns.

Located a little farther west on Commercial Street, The Red Inn is a quiet haven just a short distance from the celebratory area of downtown Provincetown. 15 Commercial Street. Tel: 508-487-7334.

Relish Bakery & Sandwich Shop
Sometimes you need a break, even from Lobster. Relish is my favorite take-away shop in Provincetown. They are known for exceptional confections as well as their crazy delicious made-to-order sandwiches. When I’m putting together a picnic lunch to enjoy at Herring Cove Beach or at Race Point Lighthouse, it’s goodies from Relish I’ll have in my knapsack.

I love their Italian Sandwich: Genoa salami, hot capicola, provolone cheese with balsamic dressing on ciabatta. Their Roast Beef and Swiss with pickled onions and mayo is also fantastic. For a lighter option, they also serve a Chickpea & Quinoa Wrap with Asian ginger, pickled veggies, hoisin sauce, and cucumbers.

Farrow & Tofu Bowl - Relish Photo Credit Nathan Butera

Another healthier addition to the menu is their Mediterranean Farrow & Tofu Bowl. Tofu is marinated with apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, oregano, and lemon juice, and white miso, then it’s placed on top of a farro salad comprised of chick peas, red onion, bell pepper, sundried tomatoes, capers, Kalamata olives and pepperoncini. The whole dish is then served on top of greens. It contains all my favorite ingredients and it looks beautiful too.

I asked Frank Vasello, chef and owner of Relish, about the people who are creating this endless array of tasty treats. “My head chef is Mark Buchholz and my baker is Sue Hale. They do most of the production at Relish.”

But we can’t ignore Relish’s plethora of sweet creations. At the top of the list is their Pear & Almond Danish, the Chocolate Espresso Coffee Cake, and their homemade Raspberry Pop-Tart! They also have scores of different cookies to choose from, and delicious fresh-roasted coffee and wonderful selection of teas. 93 Commercial Street. Tel: 508-487-8077.


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