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Summer Eateries on the Northshore

Elyssa Apr 10, 2007 09:24 AM

Even though I'm originally from the Northshore area I tended to go into Boston to eat more often then heading up to Gloucester, Manchester, and Rockport area.

My boyfriend and I are going home to visit in June and I'm looking for some nice ideas where we can take a nice summer drive (we'll be coming from the Marblehead/Swampscott/Lynn area) up to some restaurant in Gloucester, Rockport, or Manchester area. Ideally something on the water so I can give my Midwest guy a taste of our small Northshore towns. Seafood would be great...but quality of food and fun ambiance is most important.


  1. g
    gilliano May 4, 2007 03:24 AM

    What used to be Flynnies on the beach in Marblehead has been re-opened (most unfortunately by the attitude-filled owners of Red Rock in Swampscott.) Haven't been yet, but the menu does look good. Seating is either outside or in a cramped very crowded dining room. Can't beat the view and the 1 pound steamed lobster for $15.95 seems like a very good deal given the present lobster shortage. Let me know if anyone has acutally eaten there.

    1. h
      hillarylauren May 1, 2007 03:04 PM

      Beach Street Bistro right on Beach Street in Rockport has great food, if (understandably) spotty service. It's a TINY place - I'd recommend reservations if you're going to be there on a weekend night - but it's the best food I've found in a year on Cape Ann. Excellent chocolate bread pudding, lobster bisque and entrees (which vary night to night). Also has a liquor license. There aren't any views from inside the restaurant but it's right on the beach.


      4 Replies
      1. re: hillarylauren
        ipsofatso May 1, 2007 05:15 PM

        Top of the foodchain fancy (eatery is not applicable here) is The Franklin, then Duckworths. Lots of people like Passports but its always been a dud for me. Madfish is fun but don't play Stump the Chef. Great drinks and apps. Agree that Manchester and Rockport have nothing much more than mediocrity with attitude. Cala's in MBS is just OK but they do have a great burger plate and good drinks.

        Farnham's in Essex is very good with super views of the mahsh and Hog Isle.

        1. re: ipsofatso
          hillarylauren May 1, 2007 05:22 PM

          In my experience Franklin is LOUD and service can be atrocious. But it's open year round til late and food is generally good (if a bit oversalted). Good drink/wine selection.

          1. re: hillarylauren
            ipsofatso May 1, 2007 05:28 PM

            ask them to hold off on the salt they will

            1. re: ipsofatso
              greenstate May 3, 2007 07:36 PM

              One of my favorite meals on the North Shore is at the Franklin: grilled calamari or tuna tartare appetizer, tuna loin entree and an icey cold Grey Goose martini. Eaten at the bar,it doesn't get mcuh better than that.

      2. l
        lasiciliana Apr 12, 2007 08:56 AM

        Seafood types:

        Essex Seafood (on the way to essex on route 133, right after the Red Barrel Pub) has great seafood and there i rarely a line like there always is at both Woodmans and the Clam Box. Also, the prices are not as expensvie. Farnham's down the road is always a good choice too.

        Capt. Carolo's in Gloucester is a GREAT place to go on a Sunday night...food it a bit pricey but they have a great outside deck area with live music and a really good atmosphere.

        Halibut Point on Main Street in Gloucester is always good. In the summer they have a pattio area. The food/drinks are always good and the prices are decent.

        My Place in Rockport is good, pricey but you are also paying for the view. It's at the end of rocky neck which is just a beautiful spot.

        The Black Cow in Newburyport is a GREAT place to eat and sit by the water. it gets VERY crowded in the summer and it's a bit pricey for me but, if you have a drink and an appetizer it's decent. Newburyport is very up and coming...lots of great food choices. Agave (mexican food) is a GREAT restaurant.

        those are my suggestions...I know that there are a ton of great restaurants in Salem at Pickering Wharf ... maybe someone can suggest some.

        Just be aware that lobster prices are SKYROCKETING this summer...they are prediciting that seafood is going to be very expensvie so get ready to pay big bucks.

        1 Reply
        1. re: lasiciliana
          resipsaloquitor May 1, 2007 09:31 PM

          I just want to mention that the last time my wife and I went to Halibut Point, it cost us $60 for a burger, salad and a couply of glasses of wine. Yikes.

        2. andytee Apr 11, 2007 07:41 PM

          perhaps this is the obvious, but i want to mention the clam box in ipswitch and woodman's in essex. also, not on the water, but the sea witch in peabody is a real north shore gem.

          8 Replies
          1. re: andytee
            delirious Apr 12, 2007 08:37 AM

            It should be obvious. Woodman's is excellent and better than the clam box in my opinion.

            1. re: delirious
              4chowpups Apr 12, 2007 08:49 AM

              I would beg to differ on Woodman's and Sea Witch. Standards went way down since new owners took over at Sea Witch and Woodman's is grossly overrated. I know hounds have debated Essex Seafood, Farnham's (my personal fav.) and Clam Box ad nauseum but I think they are all superior to Woodman's.

              1. re: 4chowpups
                resipsaloquitor Apr 12, 2007 09:51 AM

                For the life of me, I just don't GET what anyone could see in Woodman's.

                Finz at Pickering Wharf was very good the only time I was there, and the view was terrific. I agree on everything posted below by lasiciliana except for the note about Capt. Carlo's. I still miss the picnic tables, but maybe I just less formal than other folks here.

                1. re: resipsaloquitor
                  lasiciliana Apr 12, 2007 11:30 AM

                  I LOVED Capt. Carlos when they had the picnic tables...I thought it was a great place then too..but it was more of an eat and leave kind of place. Now it's more of a destination...good food, good music, drinks..entertainment...

                  1. re: resipsaloquitor
                    andytee Apr 12, 2007 12:09 PM

                    What would anyone see in Woodmans?

                    Well, fried clams, steamed lobster, seasonal corn. You could argue one place or another might be better, but ordering these three items is an awesome meal every time. Last summer was my first in Boston and I haven't tried a lot of places mentioned on this list (looking forward to it though!). It's fine if you think other places are better than Woodmans, but every time (maybe 3 times) I have been the clams have been great.

                    1. re: andytee
                      greenstate Apr 12, 2007 01:34 PM

                      Woodmans is where the tourists go, it is hardly the best place in Essex for clams, corn and lobster. The next few times you go to the North Shore, try a different place each time and compare. If you liked Woodmans so much you will be pleasantly surprised by the competition. Here are some places I recommend. Essex: Farnhams (best), Essex Seafood, Blue Marlin. Gloucester: Charlies, Capt Carlos, Amelia's, The Boulevard.

                      1. re: greenstate
                        lasiciliana May 4, 2007 08:28 AM

                        The Boulevard?
                        where is that? if you are thinking of the restaurant on the boulevard...it's closed and reopened as the Morning Glory Cafe, breakfast and lunch only.

                        and poor at that.

                2. re: delirious
                  passing thru May 4, 2007 04:04 AM

                  i couldn't disagree more. vastly prefer the clam box to woodman's, myself.

              2. b
                bizzy50 Apr 10, 2007 02:08 PM

                Try Red Rock in Swampscott. Good food and a fantastic view.

                I am also a big fan of the Wild Horse Cafe in Beverly but in truth, it is more of a Winter place--fire place, comfy couches, warm and rich food. Maybe for another trip!

                3 Replies
                1. re: bizzy50
                  bachslunch Apr 10, 2007 02:52 PM

                  I went to brunch at Red Rock once. Food was OK if not quite as good as the price point, and there was definite attitude among the staff. The view was great, though.

                  There's worse, but I'm not in a big hurry to go back.

                  1. re: bachslunch
                    chompie Apr 11, 2007 04:28 PM

                    cant stand the attitude at Red Rock and high prices for mediocre food IMO. Lobster Pool is non memorable for food, cant recall but think it was fine, but it does have the most beautiful view esp at sunset. You feel like you are in the middle of the ocean. Has anyone eaten at the Inn in Rockport.. I forgot the name! I think the Grand Cafe? I went on open inn day and they had great hordoerves and sweets but never went for a meal. Nice view and pretty dining room . Manchester is such a shame. One of my favorite little towns to drive to the harbor or beach but NO place to eat! I am so desperate to eat there I thought of trying the little coffee shop and noticed some bar-like place on the main street. They arent hidden gems are they??? wishful thinking.. I think there is a new Portugese place in Gloucester. Does anyone know anything about that? I love the place I got married on Bass Rocks. The Oceanview Inn. Very very romantic and probably very overpriced. The food was somewhat gourmet standard new england and was excellent at our wedding and tasting but dont know how it is now, 7 years later..Maybe not chowish..But might be really nice for a midwesterner, esp. with the fireplace going and a big summer storm with the waves crashing across the street on the rocks.

                    1. re: chompie
                      BillieJean May 3, 2007 01:18 PM

                      Ah, but there is a nice place in Manchester--Calla's. Owned by Jeff Call who also owns Alchemy in Gloucester. Both places are wonderful. The Manchester one is a little pricier and higher end; Alchemy has a wide and deep menu and is funky.

                2. resipsaloquitor Apr 10, 2007 09:40 AM

                  My favorite place is The Studio on Rocky Neck. The food is fine and reasonably priced, and you can sit all afternoon sipping wine and watching the boats come and go. Also, the Lobster Pool on the Rockport/Lanesville line has an incomparable view of Ipswich Bay and very good food, though very casual decor.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: resipsaloquitor
                    greenstate Apr 10, 2007 09:59 AM

                    I could not disagree more. I go to Rocky Neck in Gloucester all the time and the only place I will never go is to the Studio. The Rudder is a much better choice in that neighborhood, although still not fantastic food, there are great drinks, and it's the most fun. Try to get a seat on the deck, which is easily one of Gloucester's greatest experiences. In Rockport, I reccomend My Place, a small restaurant at the end of Bearskin Neck. If you are not concerned with eating on the water, go to Franklin Cafe on Main St for the best dinner on Cape Ann. Afterwards, go to Rocky Neck to the Madfish Grille for drinks and music. Another good choice is to eat at Duckworth's Bistro and then head out to the Madfish for drinks. Lobster Pool in Lanesville can only boast a good view. Their food is expensive, mediocre, eat in the ruff food. I would not even bother going to Manchester to eat.

                    1. re: greenstate
                      resipsaloquitor Apr 10, 2007 10:08 AM

                      My impression is that The Studio improved last year. Maybe it's worth another try if you have not been there in a while. I found The Rudder, Madfish Grille and My Place ridiculously expensive for what you got. I agree about Manchester -- what a wasteland -- and about The Franklin Cafe.

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