The Lobster House in Cape May New Jersey is a classic seafood restaurant. Lunch and dinner in five dining rooms and a full bar is available seven days a week. The Lobster House is located on an active commercial fishing fleet pier in Cape May Harbor. In the warmer months you can eat out on the pier. They also have a take-out shop and a fresh fish market.
A drawing my sister Nicki made of the Fisherman’s Wharf
Excerpt from Memories of the Fisherman’s Wharf
I grew up in a seafood restaurant. My family owned The Fisherman’s Wharf on Mott Street in Manhattan’s Little Italy from the mid-1940s to 1958. . . The offerings were mostly seafood but there was also steak and chicken, as well as some Italian-American dishes like spaghetti and meatballs. I loved shrimp, and the deep-fried breaded gamberetto with lots of ketchup was my favorite. The shrimp and rice special was pretty good too. Only, I’d have to pick out all of the pieces of celery before I ate it—I didn’t eat any green food back then except pickles. . .
. . . they usually started with a few drinks and dinner in one of the local restaurants; Sweet’s, Carmine’s, or Sloppy Louie’s, now all long gone. . .
. . . Anyone could walk out on the pier where they docked, although no one did unless they were in the seafood business. The pier smelled of sea water and fish, and while the fish couldn’t have been fresher, it still smelled, especially in summer. . .
. . . the piles of clams and oysters heaped like stones. What seemed like sea monsters to me were the giant, decapitated swordfish, sliced crosswise to show the quality of the steaks, the heads on display, their swords pointing at the customers. Always enthralled with crabs, I loved chasing the escapees skittering sideways down the street. . .
. . . The longshoreman worked all night, so instead of scrambled eggs or pancakes, they’d eat a hearty meal of roast beef and turkey with fried potatoes and hot cherry peppers. Everyone drank coffee, steins of beer, and shots of whiskey. I’d have a Coke but otherwise ate everything they did. The cook would tell my father, “The kid’s got a good appetite.”
. . . For some of the clam dishes, Michele often used large chowder clams he’d chop into small pieces, and that’s what led to the problem in the cellar. The clams were kept on ice and covered with damp burlap to keep them alive and fresh. Sometimes when clams are out of water, the shells begin to open. . .
. . . I wasn’t to go near the lobsters which had much stronger claws than the crabs. They came packed in seaweed and ice, in open-sided crates, with wooden pegs wedged into the joint at the base of their claws so they couldn’t open them.
“Pero,” Michele said, “some-a time, the peg, she slip out.”
Michele hardly had to warn me. The lobsters’ fierce looks were enough to keep me away. . .
Kitchen 21 is a new addition to Coney Island. Not typically what you’d expect but I think it will be a good fit. It’s in a landmarked Spanish Revival building on the Boardwalk that opened as a Childs Restaurant in the 1923. In contrast to the exterior, the interior is done in a modern industrial style.
It has a Café for take-out, the Parachute Bar with a great selection of beers on tap, the Community Clam Bar for seafood, the Test Kitchen with food by guest chefs and a rooftop bar. When we were there the crowd was made up of tourists, hipsters and enough Coney Island regulars to keep it real.
The service was attentive and friendly. We had fried calamari served on a bed of arugula with a sprinkling of balsamic, then lobster rolls done just right.
After lunch we went to the roof for a drink – bright and breezy with a view of the Boardwalk, beach and the old Parachute Jump.
I grew up going to Coney Island and Kitchen 21 is not something that I would have ever expected. I hope they do well because I intend to go back.
Kitchen 21 in on the Coney Island Boardwalk at the foot of W. 21st Street.
For Italians, the celebration on the Eve is more elaborate than Christmas Day. It a seafood dinner because until not too long ago it was a religious ‘day of abstinence.’ Some people call it the Feast of the Seven Fishes. I never counted but I think we have it covered.