Seafood shack brings Boston to Chicago

November 23, 2011 11:24:57 AM PST
A wave of new seafood options has hit Chicago recently with the city swimming in lobster rolls, fried clams and chowder. The latest retail operation combines a market with a small restaurant.

After Thanksgiving, a lot of us are going to be looking for alternatives to turkey. You're in luck, because over the past year, more than a few new businesses have cropped up in Chicago, all promising authentic tastes from the eastern shore. The latest is a super-casual seafood shack with some very well-made dishes from Back East.

The rolls are shipped in from Boston, split down the top, buttered and griddled on the sides; a thin layer of mayo is spread on the interior walls, before chunks of freshly-cooked and chilled lobster meat are jammed into the bun; a bit of garlic salt and melted butter add extra flavor. This is a New England-style lobster roll as defined by the New England Seafood Company and Fish Market in Lakeview and it's a constant reminder of why the owners set up the business in the first place.

"Sitting on a deck eating some fried clams and some lobster rolls, that's every weekend pretty much. That's the stuff we miss and couldn't really find too much out here," said Jeff Mazza, the owner of the New England Seafood Company and Market.

It doesn't hurt that Mazza's father has been in the seafood business his entire life. The family's wholesale business ensures that the product is fresh and constantly replenished. Thick, meaty haddock filets are dredged in flour then fried in canola oil for a hearty fish 'n chips.. while tiny clam bellies also take a dunk in hot oil until they're crispy. If you want to do a traditional lobster boil for a couple of folks, there's that option too.. each crustacean arrives at the table with typical sides like corn and potatoes and drawn butter, plus necessary tools like bibs and lobster crackers. If you'd rather not eat-in, and just pick up something to make at home, there are plenty of choices in the massive front case.

"We wanted to incorporate the display case with you know, all the fresh fish we've been flying in as well as be able to serve some of the nice food we grew up eating out East," said Mazza.

If you like clam chowder, you'll definitely dig their homemade version.. rife with bits of fresh clam and cubes of potatoes in a thickish broth. Mazza says he's excited to be a part of a growing trend in a city known more for its steaks than its sea creatures.

"Since I've been here, a lot of seafood places have been opening up. You know, hey, we're not really trying to compete. It's a big city, big food town. We're just trying to help out and supply some good seafood," he said.

Here's a little tip: the restaurant is b-y-o-b, but if you want, they have an arrangement with the green lady bar across the street, where you can go have a beer or cocktail while you wait for your food, and they'll bring it over for you when it's ready.

New England Seafood Company & Market
3341 N. Lincoln Ave.
(773) 871-3474
neseafoodcompany.com


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