Sometimes, I love someplace or something so much, I don’t want to write about it. I want to keep it all to myself, but that’s not who I am. 19 Raw Oyster Bar is celebrating its second Summer season, and it’s bigger and better than ever, and really hitting its stride.
Bigger? Well, the renovated patio seating doubles the restaurant and affords you great seats for people watching on Church Street in the Village of Edgartown. Let’s not forget the porch seating too. I must admit that this is one of my favorite places for tourist watching. Quite the scene on most days.
Better? There was so much to enjoy last year, but experience and growth definitely pays off. There are even more oysters to choose from, the largest selection on the Martha’s Vineyard. There were 12 when we went, and chef/owner Joe Monteiro wants to have 19 oysters to choose from come Summer.
Seriously…over a dozen types. If you like oysters, you’ll be in heaven, offering varieties from Maine, Massachusetts, New York 19 Raw is where it’s at. An added bonus to the selection are the Great Gun oysters, a small batch farm in Long Island. Joe is particularly fond of these bivalves. It took him a year to make them possible for the restaurant. 19 Raw is the only place in Massachusetts you can get these delicious briney beauties. They are darn good.
I am also a big fan of the Pemaquid from Maine — clean and fresh. We also tried the Squish from Plymouth Bay, the Puffer Petites from Wellfleet, the Aunt Dotties from Duxbury, and the the Bay View from Dennis. Hey, when at an oyster bar, one should indulge and be a little adventurous.
Having met a number of oyster farmers on Martha’s Vineyard and enjoying them immensely myself, it was such a treat, that my lunch date, Dina, had never had an oyster in her life. She went through each variety with me like a champ, trying to relate to my descriptions of the meat and brine. It was a lot of fun and some of the expletives were hilarious, making for a memorable lunch. Good news – she’s not allergic and we may have a new oyster fan.
More Than Shellfish
The menu at 19 Raw has so many options, not all seafood. There is definitely more variety. You can get a filet, duck, sausage, or salads, because not everyone is excited about seafood. However, I am. I’ve had the Tune Poke, the Day Boat Scallop Crudo, and Oyster Po Boy before, and wanted to try something new and exciting.
Joe suggested the Charred Octopus. Poor Dina, she had never eaten octopus either. What a culinary adventure we were taking her on.
The octopus is perfectly grilled, served with potatoes, chorizo, capers, paprika brine, bottarga and black garlic. If you haven’t had black garlic, it’s so yummy. It’s a little sweeter than it’s cousin. This dish is on my top 10 for the Summer. Though the season has just started, this stole my palate. It was so savory and flavorful. I could eat this at least once a week. YUM!
We also had the the Lobster Salad. It’s a perfect Summer bite. Beautiful greens, lobster, watermelon, gorgonzola, and a housemade creamy lemon vinaigrette. On a Summer day, this hits the spot.
We also had the house Caesar Salad. Here was my payback for having Dina try new things. I have never had an anchovy, and of course, 19 Raw’s Caesar Salad has white anchovies. I ate it. I will most likely not eat anchovies anytime again soon, but it was fun to try something new. Of course the salad, a classic was delicious.
As you can imagine, we were so full. So next time, I will need to try the Sriracha Fries, the King Crab Fried Rice, the Spicy Taco Lobsters. I always love having reasons to go back to a restaurant sooner rather than later.
I Can’t Forget….
Cocktails and such! Though small in size, 19 Raw has quite the wine list. It’s really quite impressive. There’s draft beer, of course you’ll find a selection of Wash Ashore, since Joe is one of the owners, and there are a number of specialty cocktails.
Pre-meal, I had the Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade, Mitcher’s Bourbon, blackberries and lemon curd. It was light, super refreshing and delicious. Another great thing for a hot day. Next time I will need to try the Tashmoo Sangria or Lime N the Coconut. There are a lot of craft cocktails to choose from.
In addition to great food, 19 Raw has that vibe that makes you feel at home, part of the scene. The staff is great, Joe is so personable, it’s hard to leave. Our lunch was over three hours. That’s crazy. Somehow, we lost track of all time and were completely wrapped up in the experience. An incredible experience, again. 19 Raw, I wish you were in my neighborhood! As your t-shirts say, you are “shucking amazing”!
If you’re really luck, you might see Maya Mae — Joe’s dog and the mascot for Maya Mae IPA. She’s a sweetheart, though beware of drool.
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Author’s Note: When sitting on the patio, see if you can spot the Vineyard!