Lobster Rolls Newport RI

What She’s Having: Let’s Do Lobstah Rolls

(Left to Right) Lobster Shack, Second Beach, Luke’s, Lobster Bar, Mr. R

Lobster season in New England is not for sissies. The boiling, cracking, breaking, digging, dipping, spilling, and slurping are all part of the package, a summertime rite of passage. But for those of us who like to get to the point a little more efficiently and with much less mess, we turn to that perfect, self-contained lobster meat bundle of joy, the roll. If you’re coming to Aquidneck Island for one, jackpot!

It doesn’t get much more direct-from-the-sea than at the Newport Lobster Shack, where a collection of independent fishermen fish off Aquidneck Island year-round, selling only what they catch, with no middleman and no corporate backing. “We take great pride in serving fresh lobster and lobster rolls, and are extra proud they are landed, cooked, picked, and served in Newport,” said manager David Spencer. “That’s our business model—not the most profitable way to sell a lobster roll, but we adhere strongly to that philosophy. This is a co-op… always has been and always will be.”

You can buy live hard-shell lobsters and a variety of other species at their shack, or you can order from an extensive prepared seafood menu that includes classic cold rolls made from the fresh soft shells that come in daily and enjoy them at the harborside picnic tables. Made with “very little mayo, and very little celery” so the fresh lobster meat shines through, three ounces costs $20, and six ounces, $32 with a choice of corn on the cob or slaw. Love them.

And the crowds went wild when they learned that Barry Botelho, a beloved Easton’s Beach vendor famed for his impossibly priced twin lobster rolls and displaced when the City of Newport knocked down its decaying snack bar, had teamed up with Ben Wood, Jonathan Kaufman, and Evan Enos of Salty’s. “We are thrilled to be able to work with our longtime friend Barry and continue his legacy,” they said. Now, Botelho’s famed rolls can be found at their location at Middletown’s Second Beach Snack Bar for $26.97, with a few caveats.

The cold twin rolls are stuffed with 5 ½ ounces of “super quality lobster,” said Botelho, “and made with a lot of love and a great deal of passion.” Or opt instead for the warm “Pure and Simple” roll, essentially an entire lobster with a whole tail, two or more claws, and extra body meat on a larger bun for $29.97. Both come with fries. The catch: you’ll need a beach sticker or day pass to access these rolls before 4 p.m., but the owners are working on extending the snack bar’s hours to 8 p.m.

Luke’s Lobster, a national brand dedicated to sustainability, was launched in 2009 in New York City by a third-generation lobsterman from Maine. Luke’s hit Bowen’s Wharf last summer, serving Maine-style lobster, crab, and shrimp rolls and New England clam chowder out of a custom-built shack adjacent to the Wharf Southern Kitchen. Luke’s chilled rolls are four or six ounces for $25 and $35 respectively, made with “a swipe of mayo, lemon, butter, and Luke’s Secret Seasoning” and served with chips.

If you’re toddling around the wharves but looking for a more proper sit-down for your crustacean appreciation, The Lobster Bar, perched right atop the gorgeous harbor front, is your ticket, with three-sided views of the bay, the bridge, and the fort. You could go off the rails and opt for a lobster taco or lobster panini, but if you’re there for the classic, stick with one of their three rolls: the naked with warm butter and the traditional with mayo, celery, dill, and lemon, both with four ounces of meat for $34.00, or the Bonnie Roll, named for owner Patrick Kilroy’s late mother, which is stuffed with a full pound-and-a-half of shucked lobster with warm butter for $48.00.

For the serious food geeks among you who yawn at convention, go straight to Mr. R’s where funky fusion not only works, it pops. Here, you will find the Bone Marrow Lobster Roll. Ya, you heard me. This baby’s got four ounces of fresh lobster meat, drizzled with warm bone marrow butter, and topped with pickled onions and mustard emulsion on a brioche roll for $28. Mr. R’s is one of the city’s new ringers on a deep culinary bench and a must-try. Bonus: it’s BYOB.




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