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, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/885720 .
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
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.
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.