Thursday, July 24, 2014

PTown's Best Lobster Roll, Chapter One

There's some pretty stiff competition for best lobster roll in Provincetown, with some surprising differences between some of them, and the title of "best" is pretty subjective.
It may take four or five installments to taste our way around the town on a quest for the best. We'll start our odyssey with five of them, each served with a side dish, and three of these are among the largest lobster rolls in PTown. Here we go…

Pepe's serves a tasty, BIG lobster roll and excellent fries.
The lobster roll at Pepe's Wharf
is nearly the biggest in town, weighing in at 5 1/2 ounces of choice lobster meat, mostly the claws and knuckles, dressed in a tiny bit of lemon aioli and just a hint of Old Bay seasoning, and it's delicious, with a slightly different flavor than any other in town. No lettuce, just a sprig of parsley, on a roll that's been toasted a bit in the oven.
It's served with a lemon wedge and a mound of fries that have been barely dusted in a bit of flour, making them extra crispy on the outside with insides that kind of melt in your mouth. They're finished with a sprinkle of kosher salt, and are some of the best fries in PTown.
This plate filled me up, which doesn't always happen with the average lobster roll, which generally has 4 ounces of lobster, so at $21, this is a strong contender for the title of best lobster roll, at a good price for a filling meal. Open seasonally for lunch and dinner at 371 Commercial Street, Pepe's Wharf has table service indoors and out, on two decks right at the edge of magnificent Provincetown Harbor.

The Canteen's lobster roll on brioche bun, with slaw and pickle.
The Canteen makes their lobster roll with 4 ounces of impeccably fresh lobster meat mixed with a little mayo and a bit of chopped celery, served on a brioche roll, sprinkled with fresh chives snipped from their garden. It's served alongside their herby Asian slaw and a house made pickle spear. They'll also serve it hot, just the naked lobster meat drizzled with butter.
You can taste how fresh the lobster is. At the height of the summer, The Canteen has been known to have live lobsters delivered to them twice a day, steaming and shucking a batch in time to keep up with demand for this popular plate, which will cost you $18.99. Many folks name this one as their favorite lobster roll. Read my first blog about The Canteen on their opening day last year. The Canteen is a walk-up, counter service restaurant with seating indoors and out, with a new deck looking out over the harbor, open seasonally 11 AM till about 11 PM daily at 225 Commercial Street.

Mac's lobster roll has the barest little bit of dressing so far.
Mac's makes their cold lobster roll with 4 ounces of hand picked lobster dressed with barely any lemon aioli, a little shallot and a little celery. It's served on a crisp lettuce leaf in a hot dog style brioche roll, which you can have toasted or not. This is one of the least dressed lobster rolls found in Provincetown, and sooo fresh. It comes with a lemon wedge, a pickle spear, and a pile of their medium-thin, crispy fries for $19, and it filled me up.

At $27, this is still not the costliest lobster roll in PTown.
Mac's also makes a hot version of their lobster roll, with a whopping 6 ounces of lobster sautéed in garlic butter with lemon and parsley. It comes with that huge pile of fries and will set you back $27, not quite the most expensive lobster roll in town.
Mac's has a firm policy of buying as much of their seafood as possible from small, independent, local fishermen who each practice sustainable methods of harvesting the catch, so they're likely to spend a little more to bring you seafood of this quality and conscience.
Mac's is found at 85 Shank Painter Road, with table service indoors and out, and a busy takeout window as well. I got each of these orders to go. Mac's has plenty of free parking, open daily for lunch and dinner all summer.

Vorelli's great lobster roll is big, and a bargain at $18.95.
Vorelli's makes their excellent lobster roll with 5 ounces of lobster chunks tossed with a lemon infused mayo. It's served on crisp lettuce leaves in a big fluffy roll that's been toasted in the oven, with a pickle spear and a bag of chips for $18.95.
This sandwich has 25% more lobster than the average 4 ounce serving, and somehow more flavor than others I've tried. The texture of the bun is also part of the reason that this is among my favorite lobster rolls in PTown. Vorelli's is located in a charming, historic building at 226 Commercial Street, open daily for lunch and dinner in season.

So there's the first chapter in our search for PTown's best Lobster roll. Next week we'll visit The Red Shack, which serves lobster rolls five different ways. Call TheYearRounder at 424•23P•TOWN, or e-mail me at with your favorites, so I can try each one for future chapters. Soon we'll also make the rounds for PTown's best breakfast sandwiches, so call, textl or e-mail with your faves.


  1. no way, you did not include Red Shack (? lobster shack) on the pier? wow............ that is the best............. the curry is to die for. i tried them all. bar none. the best, 34 yr spent in ptown.............................. visitor every summer .

    1. Thanks for reading my blog! Did you notice that each of these lobster rolls was served with a side dish, in a sit-down restaurant? This is a five part series comparing similar dishes side-by-side, in each post. Since everyone has a different idea of what makes a great lobster roll (hot with butter, cold with just a kiss of mayo, or saucy with spices added, to name a few…) we'll taste our way around the town on these pages, naming ingredients and showing photos of each one tried, to help everyone find the style they prefer. I mentioned that next week we'd visit the Red Shack, a walk-up counter service spot (no side dishes included) and try each of their five great lobster rolls. Hope you'll join us in future posts, tasting about 30 great PTown lobster rolls, with no two alike

  2. Pepes? p.s. overpriced. and "non eventful'.............white roll. not grilled. boring lobster. hope you have chefs doing this former chef, no way Pepes. tourist trap. sorry..........i am one pea in a giant pea pod......LOL

    1. Wow! We're not here to trash someone else's favorite, and surely a former chef knows that people have a wide variety of personal tastes, which is the point of this series of articles about this most venerable crustacean. Your taste seems to run to the spicy side, given your first comment above, while others might say that it's a crime to spike lobster with strong spices, obliterating it's delicate flavor. That's why I'm tasting, describing and photographing different lobster rolls all over town.
      It's not fair to compare Pepe's lobster roll with the five choices at the Red Shack, since they are entirely different types of restaurants, which is why they're not compared here, side-by side, but in different articles. And each provides a great lobster roll depending on the type of experience you're expecting there.
      Pepe's does cost a few dollars more, as it should. You get 37.5% more lobster, unadulterated (for the purist,) on a huge mound of really good fires, served at your table by an attentive waitstaff, all while you're seated just inches from the water, enjoying the breeze and your ringside view over one of the world's loveliest harbors.
      That's a very different experience from grabbing your food to go, eating it while making your way through the crowds on Commercial Street, or jostling for a seat on the bench at Lopes Square. Each can be a great escapade, with different flavors and dining styles, and both should be experienced while in PTown. Again, read all about The Red Shack's choices in my post on July 30th, 2014. And thanks again for reading my blog!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. OK, kids, I love to hear from you, but I reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments, like those having nothing remotely to do with the topic at hand, or those which push a particular religious view in an attempt to save our mortal souls, or those seeking to sell us all something, or those that are just mean-spirited rants.
      Feel free to disagree with me, or with comments by others, making sure to respect all of our differences and unique qualities. Intolerance will not be tolerated. (wink!)
      And, again, PLEASE, no calls to repentance and the "only true way to Heaven." My heart can't take the strain.

  4. Vorelli's is the best lobster roll I have ever eaten.

    1. It's one of my favorites, too, for all the reasons I mentioned above. As soon as I can get there, It'll be my first lobster roll of the season. Vorelli's is now open for lunch, and soon will be open for dinner as well. Thanks for your comment. I keep track of recommendations of readers and pass them on. My mission remains, as always, to help us all find and share the very best of Provincetown. Cheers!

  5. Replies
    1. OK, this comment turned up last night, and to me, with all the numbers and repetitive phrases, the first thing I think of is Internet promotional services for hire, or maybe porn. If this young lady is trying to tell us about her favorite PTown lobster roll, I'd love to know about it.
      I hesitate to delete it because it hasn't yet offended my delicate sensibilities, since I can't read it. What language is this? Vietnamese, maybe? Can anyone help me out with a translation?

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  7. Thanks, Olivier, for reading my blog. We're here to share favorite Provincetown restaurants, shops, galleries, recreation, photo ops, and anything else related to all the great experiences that people find here in PTown. Have you visited this remarkable little town at the very tip of Cape Cod? Do you have a favorite lobster roll here? Do you need suggestions for lodging or transportation?
    By the way, your link above leads leads to Chinese food in Phoenix, not to pizza, while the topic at hand still remains: great lobster rolls in PTown. And, I'm still looking for someone to translate the previous comment, if you can help.

  8. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info. gas grills below $300

  9. Thanks for reading, Genious Person, glad you found useful information here. Your link leads to a useful article as well, but it's not related to this post. I'd rather hear about your favorite PTown lobster roll, or about the type you're looking for, so I can help you find it among about 65 different lobster rolls in town, with no two quite alike. That's the point of this series on lobster rolls.

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