Lobster Roll Diaries: Best Yet
I went with a friend for a late lunch at Neptune Oyster in the North End the other day, and all I can say is wow. What a great little place.
As you can guess from the marble tabletop and silver cutlery in the picture to the left, Neptune Oyster is no casual seafood shack, but in terms of upscale lobster rolls, this one was sublime. A generous helping of nice, big chunks of fresh, really lobstery-tasting lobster on a toasted brioche roll, which was also quite yummy in its own right. You can order the lobster served hot with butter or cold with mayo, a nice choice to have. We went with mayo, as that's how we both like our rolls in general, and it was a really muggy day so cold seemed best anyway. It wasn't cheap, but if you make a meal of it and start with a few briny Wellfleet oysters apiece (we did), I think you get your money's worth.
We practically had the place to ourselves, so it's hard to judge what the service would be like on a busier day at such a small, popular restaurant, but our waiter couldn't have been nicer, and happily spent lots of time describing his favorite oysters to us, and debating the merits of butter vs. mayonnaise. (Basically, for him it came down to this: "I like mine in butter ... because I like butter!" Well said.)
There's still no substitute for the charm of a ramshackle seafood place, but if I had an out-of-town guest who wanted to go somewhere nice but unpretentious for some fresh lobster and bivalves, I'd take them to Neptune Oyster in a heartbeat.
The North End is also always fun to stroll around, even on a hot, soupy day such as this one. We stopped into some of the little clothing boutiques that have sprung up in the area recently, and while we weren't exactly blown away by the merchandise, it's still nice that they're there. (It was too hot to be trying on clothes, anyway.)
Apparently the neighborhood's become kind of yuppified, and it's obviously very touristy, but I don't know, those old dudes leaning out their windows in undershirts looked pretty authentic to me. I don't think they let yuppies into places like this, either:
Also still going strong is Pizzeria Regina, much better known than our beloved Santarpio's, but still in the same league as the object of fiercely loyal local pizza allegiance. The parents of a friend of ours had their first date there many years ago, and it doesn't seem like it's changed much since.
Perhaps I'll get around to giving the full Regina rundown another day. It is surely deserving. But for now, I only have eyes for lobster. I might have to cook one for myself tonight, now that my seasonal mania has been ignited.