Nestled back among clusters of riverfront homes in Gloucester on Massachusett’s scenic Cape Ann (30 miles north of Boston), sits a seasonal restaurant to be treasured. With a dock along the water and the freshest seafood around, Lobster Cove Market & Restaurant is a hidden gem on the Annisquam River surrounded by picturesque views and gently rocking boats. The menu is small and tantalizing, allowing patrons a little less struggle to choose their dinner (but not too much, every choice is an excellent one!).
The menu, different every night, features local and regional ingredients, including food sourced from 11 farms in Gloucester and Ipswich and the surrounding area. The chefs and owners, Amelia O’Reilly and Nico Monday, met while working at the famous Chez Panisse before returning to Amelia’s hometown on Cape Ann. They note their “pride” on their restaurant’s website to be working closely with Cape Ann farmers and local producers “in the spirit of cooking, sharing and enjoying a love for food and wine and friends at the table.”
This night’s menu was Italian themed due to the celebrations going on in town for St. Peter’s festival. A friendly, down-to-earth staff balanced the snazzy ambiance, creating a wonderful, balanced air of classy, simple, and rustic. Usually I feel a bit stuffy in places with such amazing fare, but Market has no atmosphere of pretension. Rather, the air was full with unending wafts of garlic and wine sauce, roasting sardines, and fresh oysters.
Our server treated us to some fresh rolls and butter, and we chose to start with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, a half dozen Wellfleet oysters, and the marinated mackerel. I’d never been a fan before, but the oysters were subtly briney and served with a simple garlic mignonette, allowing me to finally gain an appreciation of New England’s classic delight. Crisp wine paired perfectly with the mackerel marinated in just the right amount of vinegar and served over a bed of delectable house pickles and red beans.
If the appetizers were scrumptious, dinner was nothing short of divine. I ordered the bucatini alla paulina, a garlic and saffron pasta with bread crumbs and vegetables, and my friend ordered the stuffed pork loin. We went halfsies with the two dishes and it was a match made in heaven; tender, juicy pork loin stuffed with pistachios, cherries, and figs twirled up with mouthwatering noodles. We decided to forego dessert, having successfully stuffed ourselves silly, but they treated us to some cookies from Mike’s Pastry in Boston’s North End, and how could we say no to that?
Running for it’s third summer, Lobster Cover Market & Restaurant is definitely demonstrating the unbeatable benefits of using fresh and local ingredients. The cheerfully crowded bar, laughter ringing from full tables, and a conscientious staff completed the night. They even offered us bug spray since we sat outside to view the moon! This is a wonderful date spot or a great place to bring a fellow foodie for celebrations. They’re only open from May to September, though, so be sure to check them out before the summer is through or you’ll have to wait until next year!
[Market Restaurant on Lobster Cove (in Annisquam’s Old Fish Market), 33 River Road, 978.282.0700, Dinner (mid May-late Sept): Six Nights (closed Weds) 5:30PM-9:00PM, Breakfast (mid May-late Sept): Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 8:00AM-11:00AM, Brunch (Memorial Day weekend-late Sept): Sat-Sun 9:00AM-2:00PM, www.themarketrestaurant.com]
[Lucas Knapp – Good Eats Guru, 7/11/12]