A Day at the Beach

When it comes to second homes, there’s the fantasy (sunsets! weekend guests!) and then there’s the reality (another house to clean! weekend guests!).

For restaurateur Gary Sullivan, co-owner of the South End’s Rocca, and his husband, attorney Mark Young, buying a 500-square-foot Cape getaway in a former motel complex in Truro seemed like a practical compromise, trading extra space for water views. But the couple soon found that it offered the perfect solution to the second-home dilemma: a place small enough to maintain easily, with an ample deck that allows them to host friends for afternoons on the beach, followed by celebratory dinners. The couple completely gutted the space, popping up the ceilings to their full 12-foot height, rebuilding walls, and painting the rooms in beach colors of pale blue, green, and sand (Sullivan initially trained as an architect). The layout brings the focus to the large doors that lead out to the deck, and the sea beyond, which, on the day of this summer party, was a gathering spot for several guests.

“My 22 years in the restaurant industry have always been focused on operations, so people are surprised that I really have this passion for cooking,” Sullivan says. He likes preparing multiple courses, but keeps his menus simple. “I’ve learned to chop quickly so that I’m out on the beach by the afternoon,” he says.

Like most of Sullivan’s menus, this one, developed with help from Rocca chef Tom Fosnot, includes a number of dishes that can be made ahead of time and served cold or at room temperature: a chilled fennel-citrus salad with shrimp; lamb bruschetta; and a peach crostata. Only the grilled clams need last-minute cooking, and those take just a few minutes to prepare. It’s relaxed and easy, just like a day at the beach.

Grilled Clams with Pancetta
When grilling clams, Sullivan uses a special shellfish grate to keep the shells from tipping over. You can also put the clams directly on the grill—just be careful to arrange them so they sit securely between the bars.

2 dozen fresh littleneck clams, scrubbed
and cleaned
4 oz. pancetta (or bacon), finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 lemon, cut lengthwise into wedges

Preheat grill to high. In a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, cook pancetta, stirring often, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low, add garlic, and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 1 minute more. Remove from heat and add olive oil, plus pepper to taste. Set aside.

Arrange clams on grill. Close lid. Cook until clams open, 2 to 4 minutes (after 4 > minutes, discard any unopened clams—they might not be fresh).

Using tongs, transfer clams to a serving tray, being careful to preserve as much juice as possible. Drizzle each clam with pancetta mixture, then top with a squeeze of fresh lemon and the chopped parsley. Serve with remaining lemon wedges. Serves 6.