From Our Editors
Abalonetti Bar & Grill
Monterey’s charm-soaked Fisherman’s Wharf is a popular spot for visitors, but Abalonetti Bar & Grill isn’t just there to lure tourists. In fact, there’s a special menu just for locals, granting discounted access to dishes such as fresh salmon and Italian-style calamari steak.
There’s room for everyone on the huge wind-protected patio and in the airy dining room, where warm wood beams frame floor-to-ceiling windows. Sea creatures that might be curiosities at most restaurants take a starring role on the menu, including calamari served every which way and delicate, creamy abalone. The latter exemplifies Abalonetti’s spirit of accessibility: yes, you can get a full dinner order if you’re feeling indulgent, but otherwise there’s a bargain-priced abalone BLT.
Try This: The Marty Special
Marty isn’t around anymore at Abalonetti Bar & Grill, but he was in 1951, when his family helped open the restaurant. The personnel may have changed since then, but they’ve retained the same labor-intensive recipe for the signature calamari dish known as The Marty Special. It starts where all the restaurant’s calamari dishes do: in Monterey Bay. Once netted, the squid is transported by boat directly into a special room at Abalonetti and into the hands of a dedicated squid cleaner, who works with a magician’s speed and surgeon’s precision to filet the delicate little beasts—about 1,000 pounds of them a week, a feat detailed in the Monterey County Herald.
Meanwhile, the sauce is simmering. Each batch of marinara is a two-day endeavor, including a cooking time of 10 hours that leaves it thick, smooth, and intensely flavorful. From there, construction of the dish is relatively simple. To finish off The Marty Special, cooks add slices of fried eggplant for textural contrast, scatter the whole thing with parmesan and mozzarella, and serve.