Best of Boston All-Stars: What’s New at Legal Sea Foods

This iconic seafood chain fills us in on their new lobster roll, the 2015 Oyster Festival, and more.

Welcome to Best of Boston All-Stars, where we revisit longtime Best of Boston favorites to find out what’s new.

Legal Sea Foods Butter-Poached-Lobster Roll

Legal Sea Foods Butter-Poached-Lobster Roll / Courtesy photo

Dating back to the opening of their original Cambridge market in 1950, Legal has become synonymous with New England cuisine. Generations of Bostonians have grown up on their clam chowder and lobster rolls. And generations of Boston magazine writers have been raving about their seafood skills—starting in 1979, when we were handing out awards for Best Scrod. In 1982, we quipped, “Even if it weren’t right around the corner from the office, we’d be ready to put Legal into the Hall of Fame.”

And considering that we’ve given them at least a dozen awards over the years, we think they’ve officially made it.

But even though this venerable restaurant chain has five decades of experience under its belt, they’re not afraid to switch things up. For starters, earlier this summer, they even overhauled to their iconic lobster roll, introducing a new butter-poached variety.

“Our lobster roll is our long-standing number-one best-selling entrée, so you might think we’d be absolutely crazy to change it…but we did a few months ago,” says Rich Vellante, Legal’s executive chef and executive VP of restaurants. “We tweaked it and also switched to a lanky frank bun, and we recently introduced a warm, butter poached option. It takes nine hours to make the lobster butter, but it’s worth it.”

And to those who would argue that you can’t mess with perfection, know that the important part’s still the same: “Our lobster rolls include the tail, knuckle and claw meat—it’s the meat you’d get from a 1 ¼ lb lobster,” says Vellante. “Utilizing the whole lobster is a real point of difference.”

Over the years, Legal’s calamari tentacles have stretched all over New England—and even as far as Georgia—to encompass more than 30 locations total. Recently, the original flagship locations have been joined by such incarnations as their experimental “test” kitchen LTK, the Seaport’s towering three-floor Legal Harborside, bespoke eatery Legal on the Mystic over in Assembly Square, and Charlestown’s 4,400-square foot Legal Oysteria.

“Sunday Brunch at Legal Oysteria is the best kept secret in Boston,” says Vellante.

Later this fall and winter, the Italian-inspired Legal Oysteria will be hosting a truffle dinner and a wine dinner with Vina Artadi. Legal Sea Foods in Park Square also will host a series of wine dinners, featuring vintners from Spottswoode, Cloudy Bay, Sonoma-Cutrer, and more.

But first, there’s Legal’s seventh annual Oyster Festival, back by popular demand. From September 17 to October 14, all Legal locations will feature a special oyster-themed menu and events. “There’s nothing better than slurping oysters outside,” says Vellante.

Legal Sea Foods, multiple locations,