This was the first lobster roll after completing my book on the subject. I felt totally lobstered out and figured I needed a good solid break from lobster writing, but a trip to Rabia’s in Boston refreshed and inspired me to get back on the wagon. After a rather disappointing trip to the Boston Flower Show (I was at the Philly Flower Show the weekend before, so my standards were high) we decided it was time for some linner (lunch-dinner). I dragged Ken and my pals Mark and Lu to my new favorite spot in the North End, Neptune Oyster, only to find that they were working on a 3 hour wait. It was the Saturday before St Patricks Day in Boston, so understandable, but not doable if you’re hungry. So, we headed two doors up to Rabia’s, it looked to be a crowd pleaser, no wait, large seafood and Italian menu and a roomy dining room, not easy to find roomy spaces in the North End. I really hesitated on ordering this lobster roll. I hadn’t brought any of my gear, scale and such, and I had Neptune on my mind and felt that anything else was bound to be disappointing. But, our waiter told me that they cook and pick the lobsters in house. Impressive, Neptune doesn’t even do that, there isn’t much space in the North End as I mentioned. So, I had to give it a try. They had four options, butter, mayo, bisque with mozzarella and one other I can’t remember. I decided against butter since that is Neptune’s standout and went with the unique lobster bisque and mozzarella option. The waiter described it as the most “soggy” option, not enticing but I went with it anyway, In retrospect, I think he must have meant “has the most topping” and used the wrong descriptor.
When it arrived, I was thoroughly impressed by the looks of it. It was quite large, I didn’t have my scale, so I couldn’t say exactly. The bun was the texture and flavor of an Italian bread and the shape was more like a sub roll. The bun had been warmed, but I couldn’t tell if it was grilled, there was no evidence of crispness and I frankly don’t think grilling would have worked here. The meat was tossed in a thick bisque and sprinkled with what I would call more of a mozzarella garnish than anything, very minimal. The bisque was thick enough and the bun hearty enough to prove the waiter wrong. Throughout the eating experience, I experienced no sogginess. That is quite a feat for any hot lobster roll, they all usually break down on the bottom, spilling the meat out. The first bite really blew me away. This lobster meat was incredibly tender and delicious, huge chunks of tail and claw. I will admit, they need work on their lobster picking skills, I got several inner claw shards. I felt like I should have been upset about it, but I actually found it strangely impressive because it was direct evidence that they do indeed pick in house. You don’t find shell shards in frozen meat. I have always been a believer that a lobster bisque roll should be done far more frequently. I often order it with my roll to create it on my own, but I have only ever encountered one other and it wasn’t quite my vision. This was exactly my vision, everything a lobster bisque lobster roll was meant to be. Tender meat, hearty but light bun and a super flavorful bisque that had the texture to stick to the meat, not soak the bun.
I really had trouble containing my excitement and trying to share my joy with the table without sharing bites. I wanted this whole thing for myself. I still can hardly believe that the perfect hot buttered lobster roll (Neptune) is only two doors down from the perfect and most elusive, bisque lobster roll. I’m certain I will be back to Rabia’s many times for this work of lobster perfection. I have found in my travels that I am always very skeptical of lobster rolls in very close proximity to wildly popular lobster rolls with long waits. But, every time, they have thoroughly impressed me. There is a reason they can stay in business next to such a hot spot. So, next time you’re too hungry to wait for Neptune (though I do highly recommend you wait at some point) head to Rabia’s and prepare to be wowed that there is no wait for this amazing roll.
Visited March 2014