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Feb 24, 2013 01:34 PM

Locals Special at Abalonetti Bar & Grill (Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey)

Abalonetti on Fisherman’s Wharf offers an $8.95 Locals Special (Monterey County residents) for lunch or dinner every day. Mom and I tried it out recently. Here’s the menu, and the catch of the day included mahi mahi, sanddabs, tilapia, or rock fish.

I opted for the $4 supplement to add a bowl of clam chowder (or salad) plus dessert. Not crazy about the chowder though pleasant in its own way, as described here, .

Mom had the ‘dabs served up with a scoop of alarmingly yellow converted rice pilaf and sautéed fresh veggies. Pan-fried and napped with a caper and white wine-butter sauce, they were sweet as can be.

I had the mahi mahi that turned out to be a huge serving. Grilled, the thick slabs of firm fish were succulent and bursting with fresh flavor.

Mom and I argued which fish prep was better, each of us promoting our own dish. Oddly though, she was back a week later and reported that her sanddabs were flavorless that go-round.

Dessert choices under the supplement included ice cream or cannoli. Filled to order, the crispy cannolo was presented with some crème anglaise and a fluff of canned whipped cream on the side. Filled with sweetened ricotta studded with chocolate chips, this was better than most.

Abalonetti was the first place where I tried fried calamari as a kid. A new owner took over a couple years ago and revitalized the cooking. Happy to see that it’s still going strong.

57 Fisherman’s Wharf
Monterey, CA

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  1. So Melanie, could you rank Abanoletti, Sandbar & Grill and Monterey's Fish House in order of preference for a visitor? I'd be interested in your opinion (as well as any other resident or regular visitor). Abanoletti has always sounded pretty good for a wharf spot. Thanks.

    2 Replies
    1. re: curiousgeo

      This was my first time back at Abalonetti in 30+ years! It is right on the "tourist" wharf and offers a nice view toward the beach and has outdoor seating on a deck. It's not readily accessible by car and there's a bit of a walk from the parking lot that might be too much for someone who is mobility impaired. Sandbar & Grill is on the "working" wharf. It's been a couple years since my last visit. Cooking quality is about the same, but the menu is less varied and not as Italian-American. Access is via a short staircase. It's a bit cramped inside vs. the more spacious feel of Abalonetti. I've not been to Monterey Fish House since there was a sister establishment in Salinas that just recently closed.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Thanks Melanie. It's been maybe 10 years since we've eaten at Monterey Fish House. We'll probably try either Abalonetti or the Sandbar on our next visit, looking forward to it.

    2. Any idea how strict they are on the "locals only" angle? Do they check IDs?

      3 Replies
      1. re: ricepad

        They did not ask for ID. We were there on a non-busy week day, maybe it's different on the weekends when there are more visitors to the area. When we were shown the table, I asked for the locals menu and the separate menus were brought to us. That's it.

        1. re: ricepad

          When I took Mom to Alalonetti on a Sunday last month, the server recognized her as a local and just asked if we wanted the locals menu again. On that chilly day, the restaurant definitely was not busy. The other patrons appeared to be older local regulars.

          1. re: ricepad

            P. S. And while I was happy with both our selections from the locals menu, I sort of regretted not getting a plate of fried calamari. Mom's neighbor and son came in while we were there and ordered a plate of fried calamari and a Crab Louie. They said they've been eating there for a long time too.