Trending Now: Heroes in a Half Shell
Even if you’re a bivalve beginner, chances are you’ve slurped a Wellfleet or an Island Creek. But as more producers pop up around New England—and our oyster palates continue to expand—demand for variety has swelled at local restaurants. Here, Rich Vellante, executive chef at Legal Sea Foods, breaks down the five oysters to know right now, all of which appear regularly this summer at Legal Harborside—and soon at the company’s new Italian-style seafood spot, Legal Oysteria, which is slated to open this month in Charlestown.
Damariscotta River, Maine
The brackish water of the midcoast Maine river gives this bigger bivalve its butteriness and soft brininess—all told, it’s a “perfect oyster,” Vellante says.
Duxbury Bay’s tidal variations, cold temperatures, and salinity produce balanced oysters year round.
Saltwater and freshwater estuaries come together in Cotuit Bay, where the tidal changes and marshland help purify and feed the namesake oysters, leaving them with mineral, vegetal notes.
The sturdy shells and deep cups of these salty-sweet bivalves come from careful tumbling and handling by Dave Ryan and his team, who farm both Nantucket Sound and Cape Cod Bay.
Grown in swift currents that sandblast the shells white, these rich, meaty oysters from a variety of small producers are briny with a sweet finish.
With its abundant creeks, algae, and space for fresh- and saltwater interaction, Barnstable Harbor “is just magical for oysters,” says Island Creek’s Dana Hale. Of the dedicated growers there producing buttery bivalves with big cups, standout varieties include Moon Shoals, Spring Creeks, and Beach Points.
Hungry for more?
Check out our complete “Seafood Lover’s Guide.”