Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Apr 8, 2009 07:18 PM

Hosting a North Shore Lobster Bake

I'm a Philadelphia guy who will be hosting a wedding rehearsal dinner for about 40-50 hungry souls -- 12 months from now. The wedding will be in Topsfield, and I'm thinking of putting on a lobster/clambake.

Does anyone have a good suggestion for either a caterer who specializes in the sort of thing, along with a good venue to host it -- or, a restaurant where we can get a good-sized private room and all the pleasures of lobster, steamers, chowder and the other good stuff?

The closer to Topsfield the better, but anywhere along the North Shore (Newburyport, Salem, Reading, Gloucester, etc.) will work.

Thanks for your help and advice.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I've hired Woodman's, in Essex, to do a 50+ person clambake every summer for the last decade. They do a knockout job, in terms of customer service and quality of the food. We had steamers, chowder, lobster & corn, and it was always excellent. We did it outside, so I can't help you on the room. They could probably suggest some places. Good luck.

    1 Reply
    1. re: SpicyTea

      Have been to several Woodman's events - they are nice and better than going to the place itself - the best was a friend's wedding reception in the "Chowder House" owned by the town of Manchester-by-the-Sea - waterside in a park with a nice little gazebo at the end of the pier. It's just about the right size as well.

      1. If you do it this time of year then this suggestion will not work due to weather conditions but Essex River Cruises does a great and reasonably priced Lobster/Clambake. You go out on their boat, they drop you off at a remote section of Crane's Beach. They set up tables, chairs, volleyball nets, etc and then they serve you the lobster and food on the beach. It is great but best enjoyed in the warm weather.

        1. Woodman's is probably your best bet, but another is Ipswich Clambake Co. Click on their locations link for some ideas on where you could have the clambake...bakerboyz is right - weather can be *very* iffy if you're planning this for early April 2010. So perhaps a site with indoor seating that also has outdoor areas if the weather is nice (i.e., the Community House in Hamilton) or the Gould Barn in Topsfield.


          I haven't been to any of these sites, but whoever handles the clambake should be able to help with a location as well.

          7 Replies
          1. re: LindaWhit

            Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll check them out. Now, all I need to do is find somewhere to host a graduation dinner next month around Tufts U. My son loves a small italian place called Little Vinnie's but it turns out they have nothing available.

            1. re: Philly Prof

              What number of people and what style of food? Davis Square is so very close with so very many options! Search out Somerville and/or Davis Square on this board for lots of ideas.

              1. re: Philly Prof

                Phillly Prof

                You might want to look into Bocellis in South Medford (very close to Tufts). Solid Italian Food.

                1. re: Philly Prof

                  Lots and lots of options close to Tufts (go Jumbos!) Your kid has good taste .. Vinny's and Little Vinny's are perennial favorites. Depending on the size of your group you might consider:

                  Tu Y Yo

                  A board search will turn up more details about these choices. Have fun, and congrats dad of the grad.

                  1. re: Philly Prof

                    For the grad dinner you may want to try Out of the Blue. They specialize in Italian style seafood. When they were in their old location I had a private party there and attended another. They are located in Davis Square, Somerville. Pescatore & Tu Y Yo are good suggestions too.

                    1. re: Philly Prof

                      Lots of good suggestions already. I would imagine that Woodman's does a fabulous job. I'd also call the the Ipswich Fish Market which specializes in Clambakes and Lobsterbakes. They are close to the Ipswich/Topsfield line. I have not used them for catering, but eat lunch there almost every Saturday for their delicious Lobster Roll. They pack box lunches if you are on your way to Crane's Beach. I bet they would be able to suggest an appropriate venue. And as mentioned in other posts, weather can be iffy for an outdoor event in April.
                      Potential venues to check on are the Golf Club at Turner Hill, The Willowdale Estate at Bradley Palmer State Park and the Crane Estate. All close to the Topsfield area.
                      I think the rehearsal dinner/clambake idea is a great one, and I hope that all your advance planning leads to a wonderful event!

                      1. re: Philly Prof

                        There was a sort-of-Italian kitchy American place in Medford called Il Faro that I had a delicious meal at on a couple of occasions. There's Restaurante Olivio in Arlington as well.. how many people are you loking to seat?

                        I'll second Woodman's for a catered clambake, although I tend to view the lobsters they (they being everyone in general) serve at them as a bit sub-par - softshells, maybe a bit underweight.

                    2. Another vote for Woodmans. I worked with a DJ and we did a company outing at Hammond Castle and it was catered by Woodmans. They had a great traditional clambake and everything was well organized, the staff was friendly and ,most important, the food was delicious. Highly recommended.