Pananas Restaurant continually surprises diners with a selection of upscale entrees that change with the season. The spring menu promises fresh options such as the grilled salmon, which is sautéed in creamy pesto before it comes to rest atop bitter greens and risotto-stuffed tomato ($21). Ensconced in an au poivre crust, the 16-ounce bone-in Delmonico steak frolics through sprinklers loaded with balsamic grilled onion and gorgonzola cheese sauce ($28). Pasta options abound, including farfalle aglio e olio, which adds zing to bow-tie pasta with breaded chicken and broccoli rabe sautéed in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper ($15). The stuffed artichoke Francese brims with sundried tomatoes, boursin cheese, and lemon butter sauce ($8). Since main courses rotate seasonally, chefs can take advantage of the migratory patterns of vegetables to guarantee access to the freshest ingredients.
For nearly 75 years, the family-owned Masse?s Fresh Seafood Market has distributed everything from Maine lobster to wild-caught Atlantic salmon to more than 350 New England restaurants and colleges. Lately, however, the HAACP- and kosher-certified market has added one more stop to its delivery route??its own restaurant. At Masse?s Bar & Grille, fresh-off-the-boat morsels of shrimp, oysters, and clams grace an 8-foot-long raw bar, while the other catches head to the kitchen. There, cooks whip up classic and inventive seafood dishes, from mushroom caps stuffed with crabmeat to risotto tossed with lobster, shrimp, and scallops.
The culinary team doesn?t just stick to seafood?other options include pulled pork flavored with tequila-spiked barbecue sauce and paired with jalape?o cornbread. To complement each sea- or land-sourced feast, bartenders pour more than 25 beers by the bottle and tap, as well as plenty of spirits. Flat-screens behind the bar show the day?s biggest games, and a recent renovation has left the rest of the interior looking like a nautical wonderland, complete with porthole lights, 6-foot chandeliers, and all the bathing suits Steven Spielberg wore while filming Jaws.
Years ago, the building now occupied by O'Porto Restaurant built bicycles. Today, the converted factory still carries an industrial-themed appearance and echoes with the distant dings of ghost bikes. But the space now churns out traditional Portuguese cuisine—a service that earned O'Porto the honor of "Best Portuguese Restaurant" from CT.com for 2013. Executive chef Adelino de Sousa relies on many of the ingredients from Portugal's former colonies: rice from Asia, hot peppers from Africa, and cinnamon from India, just to name a few. He transforms those elements into artfully presented dishes, including seafood-based entrees, such as baked salmon stuffed with shrimp and crab and grilled filet of sole.
Voted Best Fish Market by readers of the Hartford Advocate, City Fish Market offers a menu of freshly prepared seafood meals. Lobster lovers can dig their claws into the hot lobster roll, pincered together with fries or a small chowder ($15.99). Ex-Red Coats can sample the fried fish and chips ($9.99) while pondering the best place to get their useless uniform tailored into a fashionable suit. Clammy hands find an accepting home around a bowl of fresh New England chowder ($3.50 half pint, $5.99 pint, $9.99 quart). Children can also wet their seafood appetites with kids' menu offerings such as clam strips and fries ($3.99).
When The Saybrook Fish House Restaurant first opened in 1978, its chefs would scrawl their menu on brown paper bags each day, constantly updating dishes according to the freshest catch available. Today the menu is printed, but the chefs continue to follow in their predecessors' footsteps by serving only freshly caught seafood from New England waters.
Amid the wooden panels and hanging lanterns of the restaurant?s four cozy dining rooms, baskets of fried seafood meet with iced clams and oysters from the raw bar. The staff provides full meals complete with warm bread, salad, and fresh fruit, along with a hot towel and an original poem written by the busboy.
The old-fashioned photography lining the wood-paneled walls at The Tributary Restaurant sets the mood for modern camaraderie. Waiters emerge from the kitchen with arms laden with clams and mussels, bearing large portions of veal and filet mignon to tables. After spooling pasta layered with fresh seafood and leeks around forks, patrons can hug friends who let them finish their leftovers, or hug stuffed animals while drifting into contented postmeal slumber.