Ask chef and owner Erik Bevens what makes his stuffed quahogs so special and he’ll deliver a monologue on the flavor, spices, texture and freshness of this popular item, followed by a series of quahog fun facts, tales of quahog-eating contests, and a history of the clam. The folks at Quahog Republic are a little obsessed, and it shows; their $6 “stuffie” (above) is made with loads of quahog meat, seasoning, and a bit of linguica and baked in the shell. www.quahogrepublic.com
Mattapoisett Chowder House 79 Fairhaven Road,
Even on the hottest summer days, people come here from all over to pick up a quart of chowder and experience New England. For those seeking a bolder alternative, there’s a seafood chowder with smoked bluefish, haddock and shrimp in a cream base. The recipe originates with owner and chef Mark Koran. $3.75 for a cup; $4.75 for a bowl; $12.75 for a quart.
The menu changes with the seasons, and to owner David Punch, it’s the season for fresh fish. The ever-changing “boards” — an amalgamation of seafood du jour — can include such things as roasted local flounder, grilled Spanish octopus, littleneck clams, and local tuna. The boards go for about $68 and can feed two to three.
Cajun Shrimp Po’Boy
This summer, the folks at Dairy Joy decided to get a little experimental and threw together Cajun seasoning and breaded baby shrimp; thus, the Cajun Shrimp Po’ boy was born. Three weeks after the debut of the $10 sandwich, it’s extremely popular and “nice and spicy,” says chef Trey Benitez.
215 Derby St., Salem
One fateful day, chef Mike Pistorio’s father asked him if he had ever considered tossing cole slaw on a fish sandwich. Pistorio accepted the challenge, and a hybrid was born: the Lobster Reuben. The $21 sandwich is packed with lobster tossed in house-made thousand island dressing, slathered in slaw, and griddled with Swiss cheese on sourdough bread.
329 Granite St., Rockport
For New Englanders who have been around the seafood block, there’s an interesting alternative: the seafood quesadilla. The $14 quesadilla is filled with lobster, shrimp, scallops, a three-cheese blend, roasted red peppers, and seasoning.