The 10 Best Lobster Rolls in Connecticut
Connecticut’s ties to the lobster roll run deep and delicious. It was here at some point in the 1920s that Harry Perry, owner of Perry’s in Milford, first made a warm lobster roll for a regular customer named Ted Hales. (While “first in food” claims are notoriously difficult to verify, this one has far more consensus than most, with no disputes we are aware of.) In the decades since this culinary discovery, other New England states may have become better known for lobster rolls (we’re looking at you, Maine), but Connecticut has more than held its own with places like Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough, Lobster Landing and Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock consistently making Best of New England lists. Below are some of our favorite lobster roll spots in Connecticut. Did your favorite make the list? Let us know.
Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale
86 Boston Post Road, Westbrook, 860-669-0767
1301 Boston Post Road, Madison, 203-245-7289
501 Long Wharf Drive, New Haven, 203-691-6619
Long beloved by Connecticut families, Lenny & Joe’s has been serving up a wide variety of freshly fried and broiled seafood since 1979. There’s plenty to choose from here, but the lobster roll has always been a best-seller. Since opening its doors, the small local chain has served more than 1.3 million rolls, and it’s always been done the same way, proving the old adage true — if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Lenny & Joe’s lobster roll features 4 ounces of 100 percent Atlantic lobster meat (primarily tails and claws) served hot with clarified butter and a lemon wedge. Upon request you can also get your lobster roll served cold with a touch of mayonnaise and lemon (shown here). The roll comes in at $15.99.
Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock
80 Hamilton St., New London 860-439-1741, captscotts.com
Since Perry “invented” the hot lobster roll nearly a century ago, the debate has raged as to which is better — serving it hot (with drawn butter) or cold (with mayo). Captain Scott’s offers it both ways, and by the crowds that gather every summer at this classic lobster shack overlooking Shaw’s Harbor in New London, it’s clear they’ve mastered both versions. Both versions feature chunks of fresh lobster meat served on soft split buns. It is $12.99 for a small (about the size of a hot dog bun) and $15.99 for a large (a bigger hot dog bun filled with lobster). Captain Scott’s is takeout only and open seasonally, April through October. You may have to brave long lines at this perennial lobster roll favorite, but those crowds are another testament as to why this place is worth checking out.
S&P Oyster Co.
1 Holmes St., Mystic 860-536-2674, sp-oyster.com
This restaurant, located in a historic and beautiful building overlooking the Mystic River, has garnered praise and accolades for its inventive interpretations of classic seafood and meat dishes. The lobster roll is no exception. It is delightfully different than others across the state because chef Edgar Cobena infuses his South American flair into the traditional New England dish. The roll is served cold with 5 ounces of hand-picked tail and claw meat tossed with lemon, mayonnaise, celery, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and baby arugula. The rich roll is accompanied by crispy yucca fries for $25.
520 Sniffens Lane, Stratford 203-378-5999, knappslanding.comNestled beside the mouth of the Housatonic River and Long Island Sound, this landmark seafood restaurant serves a variety of popular dishes including fish and chips, stuffed shrimp, mussels, scallops gorgonzola and, of course, lobster rolls. For the sizable lobster roll, tail and claw meat is poached in butter, then served in a soft bun. The sandwich costs $22.99, but there’s no skimping on this 5½- to 6-ounce beast of a sandwich. Enjoy your meal with inside or outside waterside dining. Opened in 1997, there’s a reason Knapp’s Landing has lasted as long as it has.
Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough
117 Pearl St., Noank 860-536-7719, abbottslobster.com
Abbott’s hot lobster rolls are unique in several ways. For starters, the cooking method: the lobsters are steamed in decades-old, cast-iron vaults to seal in the flavor. Next, there are not one, not two, but three sizes — the original with a quarter-pound of meat ($17.95), the “OMG” with 7 ounces ($24.95) and the “LOL” (lots of lobster) with a full pound ($49.95). (Most seafood joints offer only one size.) The LOL is a sight to behold, with its towering stack held together with a supersized toothpick. Finally, while the traditional lobster roll is contained in a hot dog-style bun, Abbott’s opts for variety — a sesame-seed hamburger bun for the original, a hot dog bun for the OMG and a freshly baked boule for the monstrous LOL. All rolls are buttered and toasted. For those who prefer a “cooler” lobster experience, there is a cold roll, this time in the more familiar split-top hot dog bun and steeped in Abbott’s house dressing.
Can’t make it out to Abbott’s waterfront location on the Mystic River? Order one of its new-this-season hot lobster roll kits, with every ingredient needed to make them at home. They can be ordered online and shipped, or picked up at the restaurant, which shutters for the season on Columbus Day. Prices range from $58 for four kits (four lobster rolls) to $139 for 10 kits. Prices do not include shipping.
The Restaurant at Rowayton Seafood
89 Rowayton Ave., Rowayton 203-866-4488, rowaytonseafood.comThe heart and soul of this waterside restaurant is the Rowayton Seafood Market, which is tucked alongside the restaurant in an old fishing shack. It is the sea-to-table quality of ingredients from this market that executive chef Christopher Deist says sets the restaurant’s lobster rolls apart from the competition. “We take pride in sourcing the best, freshest product,” he says. Try the restaurant’s standard lobster roll served with celery, mayo, lemon and romaine on a buttered brioche roll, or go for the Rowayton Lobster Roll — hot lobster meat poached in butter, seasoned with Old Bay and lemon. The price changes based on the market price of lobster, but the rolls always contain a quarter-pound to 5 ounces of lobster. If you don’t mind a break from the strict lobster roll format, go for the lobster grilled cheese, Maine lobster with melted white cheddar served on wheat toast. Though not listed on the dinner menu, the lobster rolls are available upon request.
152 Commerce St., Clinton, 860-669-2005, facebook.com/LobsterLandingLLCA tiny, red and white shack at the end of a Clinton side street has been serving up what it calls “the best lobster roll in New England” for decades. Lobster Landing’s roll ($16) is simple but delicious — a quarter-pound of claw and tail meat on a toasted sub roll lightly garnished with lemon and melted butter. The meat is fresh and tender; it melts in your mouth along with the butter, which is flavorful but not overpowering. Enjoy your lobster roll (or sweet Italian sausage, hot dogs and Gelato Giuliana-brand frozen treats) on a wooden deck overlooking Long Island Sound.
Guilford Lobster Pound
505A Whitfield St., Guilford 203-453-6122, guilfordlobsterpound.com
Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the hot lobster roll is a relatively recent addition at this working lobster pound, only coming onboard in 2008. But as one of Connecticut’s few remaining full-time lobstermen, owner Bart Mansi knows a thing or two about lobster. Out on the boat just about every day, Mansi combines his own catch, which he tanks in 38-degree saltwater, with a selection of Maine lobsters to make his quarter-pound rolls. They contain only fresh tail, claw and knuckle meat, all cooked in butter. No spongy leg pieces found here. Nor will you find any cold lobster rolls. For $17, grab a roll and have a seat on the Guilford Harbor deck looking out to Falkner Island to the south, Grass Island to the east and the protected Salt Marsh, with its birds, deer and other fauna, to the west. During the summer the Pound is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. While you’re there, also try the unique clear-broth chowder, made with fresh clams and a combination of Italian seasonings, all crafted by Mansi’s wife Janice.
7 Indian Neck Ave., Branford 203-483-8414, lobstershackct.com
The Lobster Shack in Branford is all about simplicity. There are only six main items on the menu — grilled clams, chowder, bisque, Longhini sausage with peppers and onions, Hummel Bros. hot dogs and, of course, as the name suggests, lobster rolls. And there’s gelato for dessert. It was the dream of Nick Crismale, who wanted to open a seasonal food stand that offered up the freshest seafood caught on his boats, and his wife Arlene came aboard to run the business. The Shack’s lobster roll comes in two sizes: The regular hot roll is $16.95 and includes a quarter-pound of fresh meat with lemon and butter on a toasted bun, while the “Whaler” Lobster Roll has a half-pound of meat for $32. The Lobster Shack is cash only.
7 Seas Restaurant & Pub
16 New Haven Ave., Milford 203-877-7327Famous for its lightly battered fish and chips, it’s also worth a trip to Milford — the reputed birthplace of the hot buttered lobster roll — for this sandwich. Using Rockport lobster from Maine, the Smith family sautées knuckle and claw meat in butter before dropping a little over 6 ounces into a grilled hot dog bun buttered on both sides. At $22.95 it’s pricey, but the meat portion is hefty, along with thick-cut fries and coleslaw. “The Double” is simply two lobster rolls, dashing dreams of a gigantic single roll, but who’s going to quibble with two heaping rolls? Cold lobster rolls are not served here. Located downtown, you can pick out 7 Seas with its green painted exterior draped with ivy. Now in its 51st year, 7 Seas is Milford’s oldest continuously operating eatery. Inside, it’s the definition of a casual neighborhood restaurant, and has been the hangout of the likes of Paul Newman and sports radio host Dan Patrick.
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