WHO’S IN CHARGE Chef Johnny Sheehan has got himself his first restaurant on the Plymouth waterfront. Sheehan, who worked in Boston at Ken Oringer’s Clio and the remarkable but short-lived Liquid Art House, has partnered with co-owner Dan Casinelli and family to open Salt Raw Bar.
Casinelli, a Plymouth native, worked as a restaurant service consultant before opening Leena’s Kitchen across town in 2016. Meanwhile, the award-winning Sheehan, who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Cambridge, loved Plymouth when cheffing at the town’s New World Tavern a few years back. Long acquainted, the two men reconnected at the 2018 Nantucket Food & Wine festival and a restaurant was born.
“I was very into working on something together because I know what Johnny’s capable of,” said Casinelli. The partners share a passion for serving guests fine food in the pleasurable environments that high hospitality can create. “We’re really excited to see more and more people sharing dishes and eating like a family.”
THE LOCALE The owners gave the former Patrizia’s trattoria a facelift before opening in late 2018, but the 120-seat space didn’t need much. The pretty restaurant sprawls up a slight hillside from the street, set among the shops in the meandering Village Landing Marketplace. A beautiful front patio (peruse the outdoor sectional sofa for really comfy dining) overlooks the local scene and the harbor, and a covered side patio, up a little alleyway, offers shelter and extends the outdoor season. Inside, two dining rooms and two bars provide relaxed upscale seating.
ON THE MENU Sheehan’s canvas is big and the menu he and Casinelli have created can only be called modern American cuisine — it’s full of flavors from all over the world. Sheehan deploys French sauces as easily as he does Asian influences while showcasing favorites featuring spices and preparations from regional America, Mexico, Italy, Peru, North Africa, and more. When developing the menu, the chef relied on good technique and fresh ingredients.
“I reached back to all the interesting flavors I love from across the globe,” said Sheehan.
Both lunch and dinner menus include creative raw fish dishes and a complement of small, large, and (at dinner) family-sized plates. Among the offerings are such diverse dishes as burgers and steak frites, salads, cheese dumplings, fried chicken marinated in Tikka Masala curry, lobster tagliatelle, seared salmon and halibut, and chateaubriand.
The service was just right on two recent visits and the kitchen sent out beautiful plates. Even a single Wellfleet oyster ($3) is given every respect: My friend’s arrived atop an earthenware bowl of ice with a slice of lemon and three sauces, including a deeply flavorful cherry mignonette. The fried cauliflower ($12) is a wonderful plate of tempura-like flowerets, seasoned with the Moroccan spice ras el hanout and scattered raisins and pistachios. The family-sized skillet of seafood fried rice ($34) is a gorgeous light summer dish studded with crab, shrimp, sausage, egg, peas, carrot, scallion, basil, and cilantro drizzled with a Peruvian spice aioli. The lobster roll ($19) is a big sandwich of lightly dressed lobster meat on that classic deliciousness that is a grilled brioche bun. On an overcast day, the Szechuan beef ramen ($17) hits the spot. This bowl of spicy broth is filled with wide slices of beef as velvety as pasta, shitake mushrooms, and noodles. I ate it with a porcelain spoon in one hand and a fork in the other. Yum.
Salt Raw Bar, 170 Water St., Plymouth, 774-283-4660, www.saltrawbarplymouth.com .
Joan Wilder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.