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World Eats: Provincetown, Massachusetts

by Arthur Wooten
Partners and Owners of The Canteen Rob Anderson and Loic Rossignon | Best Restaurants Provincetown, Massachusetts

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.

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.

Pan Roasted Lobster at The Lobster Pot | Best Restaurants Provincetown, Massachusetts

Pan Roasted Lobster at The Lobster Pot (Photo: Mike Potenza)

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. www.ptownlobsterpot.com

RELATED:  Try out this recipe from the Lobster Pot at home

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 at Sals Place | Best Restaurants in Provincetown, Massachusetts

Pepper Crusted Shrimp at Sals 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. www.salsplaceprovincetown.com

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 by The Pointe | Best Restaurants in Provincetown, Massachusetts

Pan Seared Cape Halibut by 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. www.provincetown-restaurant.com

RELATED:  Here is a recipe from The Pointe for Sautéed Halibut

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