Kittery Brings a Taste of the Beach to Carroll Gardens

A sea worthy clam shack

Many New Yorkers cherish memories of New England seacoast vacations. And a visit to a lobster pound, clam shack, or oyster bar poised by the water or on a dock is often one of those favorite sensory snapshots. The food isn't complicated—fried or boiled seafood, french fries, mayonnaisey coleslaw—but the taste is enhanced by the proximity of lapping waves and the smell of surf, and it provides a lasting lesson in the virtues of plainness and freshness.

While the city has always had its seafood palaces such as the Grand Central Oyster Bar, and homegrown clam shacks like Randazzo's in Sheepshead Bay, it wasn't until Pearl Oyster Bar opened in Greenwich Village in 1997 that an approximation of the intimate seaside spot became a trope of modern urban restaurateuring. It was followed by perhaps two dozen other places—and soon you could get a lobster roll from a café, truck, or food event in many New York neighborhoods.

So it doesn't come as much of a surprise to see Kittery—named for a coastal town in Maine—open in Carroll Gardens not far from the Gowanus Canal, which gives it a kind of maritime credibility, though the wafting breezes bring a smell not quite so salutary. A paved courtyard lies beyond a gate; before you stands a white clapboard structure like something out of a Jamie Wyeth painting, with windows that will be flung open to dispense oceanic snacks in warmer months. Inside, the nautical decorations are wisely kept to a minimum, though whitewashed walls with blue trim prevail. The result is a feeling of uncluttered spaciousness, almost conjuring a beach vista.

Not everything is great at Kittery, but the things that matter are. Served on the usual split buttered bun, the lobster roll is beautiful. It's not overstuffed, but not overpriced either ($19), considering that it comes with generous servings of purple slaw, pickle spears, and homemade potato chips so good they're worth ordering on their own. Experimentalists might even try stuffing the chips right into the sandwich for extra crunch and salinity. There are praiseworthy fried clam rolls, too, but it's better to migrate to the seafood platters for that sainted creature—a Brooklyn obsession since the first Canarsie Indian pulled one out of Jamaica Bay.

The clam platter ($19) features entire bivalves (not just strips) fried crisp in flour and cornmeal. They're so profuse and rich you can nudge them one by one onto your dining companions' plates and still have plenty for yourself. The irregularly cut fries, with little bits of crisp skin here and there, are admirable, too, but what threatens to upstage everything else is the wonderful tartar sauce—its effect enhanced by a substantial wallop of raw garlic.

You might be tempted to sample the omnibus fry plate ($28)—squid, shrimp, little swatches of lobster, and fish fillet done in a rather sodden beer batter—but with clams this good, it's hard for the other stuff to keep up. The New England clam chowder is unimpeachable, with neither too much bacon nor too much cream, allowing the shellfish, with its hint of an almost romantic bitterness, to shine. This being at least nominally still an Italian neighborhood, there are stuffed clams, too (seven for $14). Rather than bombing them with garlic and crumbs in the Sicilian fashion, Kittery does the recipe one better by luxuriantly mounding the open clams with fennel-flavored Italian sausage. It's a convincingly delicious idea.

Scallops make an appearance on the appetizer menu, bathed in citrus and flecked with hot chiles as a ceviche. This really doesn't belong on a seaside menu anyplace nearby except the Hamptons, but the minced scallops are tart and refreshing, though the quantity is meager for the $12 price. There are full-blown entrées, too, but really, these are beyond the purview of the traditional Down East seafood shanty. The lobster stew ($26) is passable, but massive quantities of vegetables and a curried cream broth make the lobster meat rather hard to find.

More than half of the eight main courses are turf rather than surf—steaks, chops, and chicken. One evening, having finally tired of creatures that cling, float, and swim, my friends and I became curious about the grilled half-chicken ($18). The size of the bird and mountain of herby stuffing was impressive, but the bird was damp and tasted reheated. It posed the obvious question: Who but a landlubber, despising every breath of bracing sea air, would order chicken in a seafood joint?

 
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Rosanna Tartaglia
Rosanna Tartaglia

Almost 5,000 Palestinian prisoners - 235 children - are held in 27 Israeli jails and detention centres. More than 100 have been in prison for more than 20 years. About 200 are "administrative detainees", prisoners held without charge, including 14 elected members of the Palestinian legislature. Nearly all the Palestinian families have experienced the jailing of a relative. Of Laila Issawi's eight children, six – including a daughter – have spent time in prison, and a seventh was shot dead aged 16 by Israeli soldiers. Laila Issawi, 65, spent six months in prison in the 1970s accused of "supporting terrorism" after treating wounded militants as a nurse. Samer Issawi, the prisoner on prolonged hunger strike for an unfair and motivated trial, is not a “terrorist” but a patriot against the occupation, the violences, the Israeli expropriations of the Palestinian land and life. Hear his words, aimed at the Israelis, but of universal value: “I am Samer Issawi the young “Arboush” man according to your military terms, the Jerusalemite, whom you arrested without charge, except for leaving Jerusalem to the suburbs of Jerusalem. I, whom will be tried twice for a charge without charge, because it is the military that rules in your country, and the intelligence apparatus that decides, and all other components of Israeli society ever have to do is sit in a trench and hide in the fort that keeps what is called a purity of identity - to avoid the explosion of my suspicious bones.” Can this man be a “terrorist”? Listen to him again: “Intellectuals, writers, lawyers and journalists, associations, and civil society activists, I invite you to visit me, to see a skeleton tied to his hospital bed, and around him three exhausted jailers. I haven't heard a single one of you intervene and try to silence the voice of the growing death as all of you have turned into gravediggers, wearing military uniforms: the judge, writer, intellectual, media, merchant, academic, poet. I am unable to believe that an entire society has turned into the jailers of my death and life, to the protectors of the settlers who are pursuing my dreams." You men of culture – you can you suffer this? Listen to his voice, mobilize a world campaign for the liberation of Samer Issawi and of all the Palestinian political prisoners: “Listen to my voice, the voice of our time and yours! Liberate yourselves of the excess of greedy power! Do not remain prisoners of military camps and the iron doors that have shut your minds! I am not waiting for a jailer to release me, I’m waiting for you to be released from my memory”.

Luisa Costalbano
Luisa Costalbano

Almost 5,000 Palestinian prisoners - 235 children - are held in 27 Israeli jails and detention centres. More than 100 have been in prison for more than 20 years. About 200 are "administrative detainees", prisoners held without charge, including 14 elected members of the Palestinian legislature. Nearly all the Palestinian families have experienced the jailing of a relative. Of Laila Issawi's eight children, six – including a daughter – have spent time in prison, and a seventh was shot dead aged 16 by Israeli soldiers. Laila Issawi, 65, spent six months in prison in the 1970s accused of "supporting terrorism" after treating wounded militants as a nurse. Samer Issawi, the prisoner on prolonged hunger strike for an unfair and motivated trial, is not a “terrorist” but a patriot against the occupation, the violences, the Israeli expropriations of the Palestinian land and life. Hear his words, aimed at the Israelis, but of universal value: “I am Samer Issawi the young “Arboush” man according to your military terms, the Jerusalemite, whom you arrested without charge, except for leaving Jerusalem to the suburbs of Jerusalem. I, whom will be tried twice for a charge without charge, because it is the military that rules in your country, and the intelligence apparatus that decides, and all other components of Israeli society ever have to do is sit in a trench and hide in the fort that keeps what is called a purity of identity - to avoid the explosion of my suspicious bones.” Can this man be a “terrorist”? Listen to him again: “Intellectuals, writers, lawyers and journalists, associations, and civil society activists, I invite you to visit me, to see a skeleton tied to his hospital bed, and around him three exhausted jailers. I haven't heard a single one of you intervene and try to silence the voice of the growing death as all of you have turned into gravediggers, wearing military uniforms: the judge, writer, intellectual, media, merchant, academic, poet. I am unable to believe that an entire society has turned into the jailers of my death and life, to the protectors of the settlers who are pursuing my dreams." You men of culture – you can you suffer this? Listen to his voice, mobilize a world campaign for the liberation of Samer Issawi and of all the Palestinian political prisoners: “Listen to my voice, the voice of our time and yours! Liberate yourselves of the excess of greedy power! Do not remain prisoners of military camps and the iron doors that have shut your minds! I am not waiting for a jailer to release me, I’m waiting for you to be released from my memory”.

Salvatore Maio
Salvatore Maio

Almost 5,000 Palestinian prisoners - 235 children - are held in 27 Israeli jails and detention centres. More than 100 have been in prison for more than 20 years. About 200 are "administrative detainees", prisoners held without charge, including 14 elected members of the Palestinian legislature. Nearly all the Palestinian families have experienced the jailing of a relative. Of Laila Issawi's eight children, six – including a daughter – have spent time in prison, and a seventh was shot dead aged 16 by Israeli soldiers. Laila Issawi, 65, spent six months in prison in the 1970s accused of "supporting terrorism" after treating wounded militants as a nurse. Samer Issawi, the prisoner on prolonged hunger strike for an unfair and motivated trial, is not a “terrorist” but a patriot against the occupation, the violences, the Israeli expropriations of the Palestinian land and life. Hear his words, aimed at the Israelis, but of universal value: “I am Samer Issawi the young “Arboush” man according to your military terms, the Jerusalemite, whom you arrested without charge, except for leaving Jerusalem to the suburbs of Jerusalem. I, whom will be tried twice for a charge without charge, because it is the military that rules in your country, and the intelligence apparatus that decides, and all other components of Israeli society ever have to do is sit in a trench and hide in the fort that keeps what is called a purity of identity - to avoid the explosion of my suspicious bones.” Can this man be a “terrorist”? Listen to him again: “Intellectuals, writers, lawyers and journalists, associations, and civil society activists, I invite you to visit me, to see a skeleton tied to his hospital bed, and around him three exhausted jailers. I haven't heard a single one of you intervene and try to silence the voice of the growing death as all of you have turned into gravediggers, wearing military uniforms: the judge, writer, intellectual, media, merchant, academic, poet. I am unable to believe that an entire society has turned into the jailers of my death and life, to the protectors of the settlers who are pursuing my dreams." You men of culture – you can you suffer this? Listen to his voice, mobilize a world campaign for the liberation of Samer Issawi and of all the Palestinian political prisoners: “Listen to my voice, the voice of our time and yours! Liberate yourselves of the excess of greedy power! Do not remain prisoners of military camps and the iron doors that have shut your minds! I am not waiting for a jailer to release me, I’m waiting for you to be released from my memory”.

Angela Devito
Angela Devito

Almost 5,000 Palestinian prisoners - 235 children - are held in 27 Israeli jails and detention centres. More than 100 have been in prison for more than 20 years. About 200 are "administrative detainees", prisoners held without charge, including 14 elected members of the Palestinian legislature. Nearly all the Palestinian families have experienced the jailing of a relative. Of Laila Issawi's eight children, six – including a daughter – have spent time in prison, and a seventh was shot dead aged 16 by Israeli soldiers. Laila Issawi, 65, spent six months in prison in the 1970s accused of "supporting terrorism" after treating wounded militants as a nurse. Samer Issawi, the prisoner on prolonged hunger strike for an unfair and motivated trial, is not a “terrorist” but a patriot against the occupation, the violences, the Israeli expropriations of the Palestinian land and life. Hear his words, aimed at the Israelis, but of universal value: “I am Samer Issawi the young “Arboush” man according to your military terms, the Jerusalemite, whom you arrested without charge, except for leaving Jerusalem to the suburbs of Jerusalem. I, whom will be tried twice for a charge without charge, because it is the military that rules in your country, and the intelligence apparatus that decides, and all other components of Israeli society ever have to do is sit in a trench and hide in the fort that keeps what is called a purity of identity - to avoid the explosion of my suspicious bones.” Can this man be a “terrorist”? Listen to him again: “Intellectuals, writers, lawyers and journalists, associations, and civil society activists, I invite you to visit me, to see a skeleton tied to his hospital bed, and around him three exhausted jailers. I haven't heard a single one of you intervene and try to silence the voice of the growing death as all of you have turned into gravediggers, wearing military uniforms: the judge, writer, intellectual, media, merchant, academic, poet. I am unable to believe that an entire society has turned into the jailers of my death and life, to the protectors of the settlers who are pursuing my dreams." You men of culture – you can you suffer this? Listen to his voice, mobilize a world campaign for the liberation of Samer Issawi and of all the Palestinian political prisoners: “Listen to my voice, the voice of our time and yours! Liberate yourselves of the excess of greedy power! Do not remain prisoners of military camps and the iron doors that have shut your minds! I am not waiting for a jailer to release me, I’m waiting for you to be released from my memory”.

Jay72
Jay72

That looks about as much like an authentic downeast lob roll as an old shoe does. Sietsema you never cease to disappoint.

 
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