Nothing says summer like sunshine, sand and the sweet taste of fresh seafood. Here are eight restaurants that are dynamite destinations for succulent, fresh-from-the-ocean fare. They may not all overlook the beach, but dive into one of their signature dishes and you’ll feel like you’re there.By Liza Carens Salerno
Photography by Kjeld Mahoney
Galley Kitchen and Bar
The newest addition to chef Brian Houlihan’s South Shore restaurant group (he also owns Bia Bistro in Cohasset and The Tinker’s Son in Norwell) Galley Kitchen and Bar is anything but boring. Weather permitting, floor-to-ceiling windows open to the street and you can hear the fun before you arrive. The contemporary eatery is serious about shellfish (check out the wall encrusted with oyster shells) and the briny bivalves on the raw bar menu are sourced from all over the country and Canada. Raw oysters are served with a spicy and sweet mignonette sauce. The restaurant is known for its small plates as well as the daily taco special that includes haddock, fried oyster and salmon tacos among others. Another item to try is the oyster slider, a shatteringly crisp few bites of fried oyster with a spicy remoulade sandwiched inside a perfectly textured bun. Sit back and savor the flavor and then order another.
95 Front St., Scituate
Oysters Bar & Grille
Once inside this unassuming storefront on Route 139, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a cozy cottage. They say you eat with your eyes, and at Oysters Bar & Grille, flavorful seafood dishes are presented with creative flair. The tuna sashimi “martini” is one colorful eye-catcher, containing fresh fish, cucumber and avocado layered inside a martini glass. They also turn the classic ‘70s cocktail party favorite, scallops and bacon, on its head. Their version of the dish is deconstructed and the creamy-textured scallops are swoon-worthy. Take a bite and close your eyes, you’ll swear you’re overlooking the ocean. Ask an accommodating server for extra bread to mop up the remaining sauce.
254 Church St., Pembroke
When a date night is in order, Barker Tavern offers up the perfect balance of ambience and culinary expertise. Situated within a fully restored 17th century home, complete with country gardens, “The Barker” is known for elegant dining as well as a more relaxed pub atmosphere. Go all out and order the restaurant’s signature dish, a 16-ounce center-cut portion of swordfish, served broiled, Cajun or grilled. Try not to gasp when it appears in front of you—meaty, moist and cooked to perfection. Enjoy other creative offerings such as haddock cioppino with clams, mussels and shrimp, beneath rustic beams and surrounded by nearly 350 years of history.
21 Barker Road, Scituate
The Mill Wharf
What’s more “New England” than dining in a gray shingled building perched on the edge of a harbor? Situated beside weathered docks lined with sport and commercial fishing boats, Mill Wharf’s picture windows overlook panoramic views of sailboats, Scituate Light and the ocean beyond. Ask for a seat on the porch and order up a fried seafood platter—a crunchy, delectable combination of fresh shrimp, clams, scallops and white fish, battered and deep-fried. It’s one of summer’s guilty pleasures and you can enjoy it while watching local fishermen unload their catch.
23 Mill Wharf Plaza, Scituate
Legal C Bar
At Legal C Bar the letter “C” stands for delicious things like cod, calamari and creative cocktails. When we visit the hip Hingham restaurant, we go for the clams—specifically the linguini and clams. This velvety dish is prepared with pancetta, the perfect amount of garlic and a sauce so lip-smacking good that you’ll be sneaking tastes long after the shellfish have disappeared. Another great seafood dish on the menu is the New England Lobster Bake, which comes with clam chowder, steamed clams and mussels, grilled chouriço, corn on the cob, and a steamed lobster. With an extensive raw bar selection and ample seating, the restaurant conveys a smart, after-work vibe, but its comfortable, casual atmosphere also makes it great for family dining.
96 Derby St., Hingham
The Winsor House Inn
This historic inn has been doing business in various iterations since 1803. Under new management since 2013, the restaurant epitomizes rustic elegance and features a whimsical menu featuring headings such as “Shares,” “Handhelds,” “Crisp and Fresh” and “Spoonfuls.” Diners are introduced to innovative offerings that are as visually appealing as they are delicious. Standouts include an Atlantic salmon crusted with Parmesan and herbs and the seared scallops. Dishes arrive so artfully designed you’ll be tempted to reach for your phone to take a picture, but keep it in your pocket and go for the fork instead. You’ll get to the food quicker that way.
390 Washington St., Duxbury
This homey place wins awards for good reason. The menu at Riva Restaurant is divided between classic items and seasonal dishes that are inspired by ingredients that are at the peak of freshness. For a taste of the sea with flair, nothing can top the shrimp and clams. Flavored with white wine and lardons (they’re better than bacon) this pasta dish is impossible not to finish. Pluck a buttery clam from its shell, savor a meaty shrimp and then twirl some spaghettini. Which bite is your favorite? All of them.
116 Front St., Scituate
Haddad’s Ocean Cafe
Going out for lobster is a summertime ritual for many people, and after more than 70 years in business, Haddad’s is a classic destination. Situated at the center of Brant Rock in Marshfield, the restaurant is bright and cheerful, with gorgeous views of the local marshes. Care to shake things up a bit? Lobster comes boiled, fried, baked and stuffed, in a casserole, or folded into a roll (hot or cold). The menu at Haddad’s includes an extensive list of other crowd favorites as well, such as scampis and casseroles chock full of fresh ingredients sourced from local fishermen. Stake your claim early for a seat on the upper level deck, which is open seasonally.
293 Ocean St., Marshfield