For New Englanders, an order of briny oysters from local waters perched on a platter of crushed ice is a sign that we’re truly in the middle of summer.
Those plump gems are ready to be slurped, whether they be eastern oysters from Ninigret Pond that have a buttery finish, or “dutchies” from Jamestown that are salty with a clean ending.
But with inflation impacting restaurants, which is raising the cost of this beloved shellfish by more than 30 percent, they can get expensive — for both the chef and the diner. Despite the bottom line, there are scores of raw bars that are still staying true to their buck-a-shuck and half-priced specials.
So pull up a chair, order a glass of rosé, and check out any one of these dozen places in Rhode Island where you can grab a deal on some oysters.
The deal on oysters: $1 per shuck on Mondays, until they’re sold out.
What the rest of the menu looks like: Bywater in Warren, led by owner Katie Dickson, has long had a tradition of partnering with nearby farms and fishermen — including for their shellfish. Their menu is constantly updating and depends on the season, largely ranging from crudos to tartare dishes.
54 State Street, Warren, 401-694-0727, bywaterrestaurant.com.
The deal on oysters: $1 per shuck Mondays through Fridays, 3 to 4 p.m. on non-holiday weeks
What the rest of the menu looks like: The Beachead on Block Island reopens for the summer season in May, when they’ll bring back buck-a-shuck deals, clams casino, seafood nachos, and fresh lobster at the bar in the sand.
598 Corn Neck Road, New Shoreham, 401-466-2249, beacheadbi.com.
GREENWICH BAY OYSTER BAR
The deal on oysters: $1 per shuck Mondays through Fridays, 4 to 6 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.
What the rest of the menu looks like: Greenwich Bay has a large raw bar in a casual tavern where a sign that reads “Buck-A-Shuck” is hung across the side of the restaurant’s exterior. While diners can order raw oysters at a discount, they also serve oak grilled oysters with garlic and a basil crema ($11.95) or the “Oysters Rock,” which are four broiled oysters topped with spinach, breadcrumbs, and a reggiano. Other plates include frutti di mare, 2-pound lobsters with shrimp and scallops, paella with a saffron risotto, and diver sea scallops with a cognac cream.
240 Main St., East Greenwich, 401-398-2462, greenwichbayoysterbar.com.
The deal on oysters: $1 per shuck on weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m., and weekends from 10 a.m. to noon in the bar.
What the rest of the menu looks like: Bridge is a riverside American seafood restaurant that was built in a converted wheelhouse along the Pawcatuck River on the Connecticut-Rhode Island border. They serve grilled cornbread with whipped butter and honey ($7) and vegan “chicken” pate ($12) as appetizers, lobster three different ways ($14-24) and sandwiches with swordfish ($18), grilled squash ($14), and buttermilk fried chicken ($13).
37 Main St., Westerly, 401-348-9700, bridgeri.com.
CHRISTOPHER’S KITCHEN AND BAR
The deal on oysters: $1 per shuck every Thursday.
What the rest of the menu looks like: Christopher’s opened its doors in the fall of 2019 by brothers and owners Angelos and Stavros Petropulos. They spent a year rehabbing the former Vintage building on Market Square, which long stood vacant. Their menu offers 13 pasta and pizza dishes; classic American mains (up to $45) like warm and cold lobster rolls, fish and chips, baked cod, and sirloin tips; as well as dishes with a Mediterranean flair such as a whole sea bass ($41) with seasonal medley, and grilled lamb chops ($35) with lemon potatoes, crumbled feta, and tzatziki.
2 S. Main St., Woonsocket, 401-766 3615, christopherswri.com.
TWOTEN OYSTER BAR & GRILL
The deal on oysters: $1 per shuck weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m.
What the rest of the menu looks like: TwoTen is the type of restaurant where you can watch the local fisherman come into the marina from the window while slurping oysters or gnawing on a shrimp tail from your spicy bloody mary mix. They serve spicy Portuguese-style clams and mussels ($17) with chourico and white beans, sweet Thai chili calamari ($17) with a wasabi aioli, and seafood pizza ($23) with heaping amounts of lobster, chopped clams, shrimp, scallops, and cherry peppers.
210 Salt Pond Rd., South Kingstown, 401-782-0106, twotenobg.com.
CROW’S NEST FISH HOUSE & OYSTER BAR
The deal on oysters: $1.48 per shuck Monday through Thursday from 3 to 5 p.m.
What the rest of the menu looks like: Crow’s Nest is owned by the same company that operates Il Massimo and serves several classic seafood dishes like broiled scrod ($23) and swordfish ($27), stuffed lobster and fish and chips ($20).
288 Arnolds Neck Drive, Warwick, 401-732-6575, crowsnestri.com.
PROVIDENCE OYSTER BAR
The deal on oysters: $1.50 per shuck daily from 3 to 6 p.m.
What the rest of the menu looks like: Providence Oyster Bar’s original location is in the heart of historic Federal Hill, where you can also try their “Fresh on the Ice Raw Bar,” which offers bloody mary oyster shooters with vodka and horseradish, or the Mexican oyster shooter with tequila agave nectar, jalapeño, and lime zest. During their “appy hour,” they also serve $9 appetizers like spicy salmon and tuna rolls, steak tacos, wasabi calamari with pickled ginger and cumber, and ahi tuna sliders with pickled red onions.
Two locations: 283 Atwells Ave., Providence, 401-272-8866, and 5707 Post Road, East Greenwich, 401-715-2526, provoysterbar.com.
BENJAMIN’S RAW BAR
The deal on oysters: $1.50 per shuck all day on Tuesdays.
What the rest of the menu looks like: Benjamin’s is right across from Bowen’s Wharf in Newport, where tourist season is always bustling. It’s a three-level steak and seafood restaurant that has views of tall sailboats coming through the harbor, with traditional favorites on the menu, from calamari with marinara sauce to a bucket of steamers.
254 Thames St., Newport, 401-846-8768, benjaminsrawbar.com.
The deal on oysters: Everyday at the bar only, a half dozen oysters for $10.50, and a dozen for $21.
What the rest of the menu looks like: Mill’s Tavern is an upscale restaurant on the East Side of Providence that serves seasonal steak and seafood dishes. Chef Edward Bolus also offers a popular three-course prix fixe menu for $45.
101 North Main St., Providence, 401-272-3331, millstavernrestaurant.com.
BRISTOL OYSTER BAR
The deal on oysters: Half-priced oysters Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, from 4 to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.
What the rest of the menu looks like: Right in the heart of downtown Bristol, this oyster bar is located in a historic building that was originally a customs house. It has a cozy indoor dining room with a large outdoor patio. Small plates range from yellowfin tuna crudo with puffed farro and togarashi ($17), to braised pork belly ($15) with a fresno chili relish and stone fruit jus. Large plates, which include fish sandwiches, cast iron seared scallops, and grilled prime pork chop, can go up to $32.
448 Hope St., Bristol, 401-396-5820, bristoloysterbar.com.
PIZZICO OYSTER BAR
The deal on oysters: Half-priced oysters from 4 to 6 p.m. on weekdays, and 9 to 10 p.m. on weekends.
What the rest of the menu looks like: Pizzico has a rustic, but eclectic decor where specials are etched on a chalkboard and industrial lighting illuminates the bar. Their menu is New England seafood with a Tuscan edge. Their lobster pizza ($23) is grilled and sprinkled with avocado and pickled shallots before it’s drizzled in a garlic aioli. Excluding pizzas, entrees range from $20 to $65.
762 Hope St., Providence, 401-421-4114, pizzicooysterbar.com.
NICK’S ON BROADWAY
The deal on oysters: Rosé and oyster pairing menu daily ($24-$54).
What the rest of the menu looks like: Nick’s on Broadway, led by three-time James Beard semifinalist for best chef in the Northeast Derek Wagner, offers a special rosé and oyster pairing menu where guests can order a half dozen or full dozen oysters chilled with apple-shallot-black pepper mignonette or roasted with a pesto, lemon, and garlic butter. Wagner updates his menu regularly, serving one of the most popular brunches in the city, a hearty rigatoni bolognese ($18), grilled beef steak from Blackbird Farm ($26); and small plates like a cheese board ($16) sourced from New England farms, a tuna crudo ($15), or a pâté and jam crostini featuring poultry from Baffoni Farm in Johnston, Rhode Island.
500 Broadway, Providence, 401-421-0286, nicksonbroadway.com.
Alexa Gagosz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.