David Bazirgan, the executive chef of San Francisco’s Fifth Floor restaurant, is originally from Newbury, Massachusetts, and spent the early years of his career in many Boston kitchens, including No. 9 Park. He recently revisited Boston and made a stop in southern Maine. Here, he shares his New England summer food highlights.
“I love the old feel of Massachusetts diners. They are usually family run, generation after generation. I never go home without a visit to Agawam Diner (above). It’s an amazing old-school diner in Rowley, Massachusetts, 10 minutes from where I grew up. I usually get the meatloaf with mashed potatoes, followed by homemade banana cream pie for dessert.” 166 Newburyport Tpke., Rowley, MA, (978) 948-7780
“Woodmans in Essex, Massachusetts is another absolute favorite. It’s right on the ‘watah’ and it’s my go-to spot for steamers and fried clams … and oh yeah, onion rings too.” 121 Main St., Essex, MA, (978) 768-6057
“Barnacle Billy’s in Ogunquit, Maine specializes in Maine lobster. I usually get clam chowder to start then a two-pound steamed ‘lobstah’ and really go to town. This place is right in an area called Perkins Cove, which is quite touristy but very beautiful. After dinner walk to Perkins Cove Candies and load up on salt water taffy and gummy fish.” (207) 646-5575, barnbilly.com; 103 Oarweed Rd., Ogunquit, ME, (207) 646-7243, perkinscovecandies.com
“Glenn’s Restaurant & Cool Bar was one of the many spots I worked growing up. It was originally called Glenn’s Galley. I started dish washing there in the summer of 1988. Glenn, the owner, was a great cook with an old school temper. He used to whip sizzle platters at my head—luckily none of them connected. Once we even stole beer from him and got caught. I love going back, brings back lots of great memories.” 44 Merrimac St., Newburyport, MA, (978) 465-3811, glennsrestaurant.com
“I like to buy meat from Savenor’s Market in Boston. I learned how to butcher whole animals there back in 1998. Ron Savenor is awesome. This is a family-owned and -operated place and they sell great product.” 160 Charles St., Boston, MA, (617) 723-6328, savenorsmarket.com
“For seafood I really like New Deal, a third-generation run fish market. They have amazing salt cod from Portugal, along with an amazing selection of Atlantic and European fish. The fish here is usually sashimi quality too. Carl, the current proprietor, is a great guy who will chat your ear off. It’s mindboggling how much he knows about seafood.” 622 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA, (617) 876-8227, newdealfishmarket.com
“I am a huge fan of anything Boston chef Ken Oringer does. He owns seven restaurants and they are all unique. My favorite is called Toro, where his chef partner Jamie Bissonette creates some traditional and not so traditional tapas. The place is super high energy, loads of fun, and wicked delicious.” 1704 Washington St., Boston, MA, (617) 536-4300, toro-restaurant.com
“Skip Bennett, the owner of Island Creek Oyster Farm in Duxbury, Massachusetts, takes his oysters very seriously and it comes through in the flavor and texture. They are amazing oysters. I actually use their oysters at the Fifth Floor in San Francisco. Island Creek also has its own oyster bar in Kenmore Square, Boston.” 296 Parks St., Duxbury, MA, (617) 532-5300 islandcreekoysters.com
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