Oysters: Heroes on a Half Shell

These salty treats slide down so good...


I remember the first time I looked at an oyster on the half shell. In fact, it may have been looking at me. You realize they are alive when you eat them, right? I gently added a bit of cocktail sauce, a squeeze of lemon, opened my mouth and let it slide on down. To my (grateful) surprise, it stayed down, and I actually liked it. So, I had another, and another. And before I knew it, I had scarfed down a half dozen, all on my own.

This seems to be the overwhelming response to the booming oyster industry in South County. As more salt ponds fill with oysters, we have more to eat,and that is a very good thing. More and more raw bars and buck a shuck options are popping up, and hopefully, South County can keep up with the demand. We’ve got a taste for oysters, and it’s not going anywhere. Here are some places you can go to to get your fill of these salty, savory and slightly sweet treats.

At the Greenwich Bay Oyster Bar, they have Buck a Shuck every Sunday through Thursday from 3-5pm. You can get five fresh oysters for $5. If that doesn’t make your mouth water, I don’t know what will. In fact, I’m pretty sure I have $10 to drop on that sweet deal. And if oysters on the half shell aren’t your thing, dig into their Fried Oyster Appetizer ($12.95) or their Oyster Po’ Boy ($18.95).

If you’re a little further south, head over to Matunuck Oyster Bar where you can get Matunuck Oysters grown in Potter Pond (Perry Raso’s own oyster farm) for $1.85 each or get the Grilled Oysters ($11.95), where you get six grilled Matunuck oysters with some parsley and lemon. Whether you want them straight from the pond or fresh off the grill, among other delicious dishes, you will find something that whets your appetite.

Over in Westerly there’s a hidden gem called The Sea Goose Grill & Raw Bar. They have Ninigret Cup Oysters from Charlestown Pond for $2.25. Or, go for broke and dig into the Oyster Poor Boy ($14). It even comes with fries and cole slaw. It’s a nice Rhode Island twist on the classic New Orleans dish.

Since we’re already in Westerly, might as well stop by Bridge Restaurant & Bar. They have a raw bar that is simple and straight forward. The oyster selection is written on a blackboard and will reflect type and price. Live a little and see what they have in store for you from day to day.

Guess who else has Buck a Shuck? George’s of Galilee. Every Monday through Friday from 3-5pm, get oysters for a buck! Need more oyster goodness? Try one of their Oyster Shooters with cocktail sauce and lemon for $3 or add some Absolut Peppar Vodka for an additional $4.

Wanna try a new joint? Head to the Salt Marsh Pub & Raw Bar, the newest addition to Cap’n Jacks. As their name would suggest, they do indeed have a raw bar. Slurp down a Moonstone oyster with Cap’n Jack’s rum mignonette, cocktail sauce and lemon for $2 each. Gazing over a salt marsh as you eat oysters that were literally grown down the road may be a #southcountymoment.

Sometimes you want the comfort of a long-time favorite, I’m talking about The Wilcox Tavern. When they reopen on May 22, ask your server for the local variety of the day Oysters on the Half Shell and they will serve it up to you for $2.25 each. Or get a small plate of Roasted Oysters ($12) with Walrus & Carpenter oysters, sriracha-chorizo butter and coarse sea salt all topped with a cilantro-lime marinade.

Head back over to East Greenwich for Blu on the Water’s third season. It reopens on May 1 and now is the time to try their raw bar. They have local oysters priced daily that are the perfect accompaniment to the relaxing view over the harbor.

When I think about eating oysters, I think about the water. I want to be as close to the water as possible when I slurp down these little suckers. This is what’s great about noshing at Trio. They have a raw bar where you can get East Coast Oysters for $2.75 each and they are accompanied by a mignonette, cocktail sauce and lemon. Or, you can start your meal with Oysters Rockefeller ($12.95) where they take local oysters and complement them with spinach, pancetta, anisette and fontina cheese.

Let’s say you are in Jamestown and need your bivalve fix. Not to worry. Jamestown Fish has you covered. Their Oysters & Clams ($15) feature three wild oysters and three local littlenecks served on the half shell with mignonette and Keith’s cocktail sauce. (Thanks Keith!) And all this is within eyeshot of Narragansett Bay.

Even landlubbers can get their fill of oysters. Especially at North Kingstown’s Carriage Inn and Saloon. For $1.75 they serve up Oysters on the Half Shell with cocktail sauce, lemon and a mignonette. Or try their Oysters Casino ($12) that features local oysters shucked on the half shell and topped with panko breadcrumbs, a lemon pepper compound better and pecan-smoked bacon. Is your mouth watering yet?

For a low-key, cozy and inviting environment with no fuss, check out The Mariner Grille. They’ve got Raw Oysters (get them quick!) for $2.25 each or give their Fried Oysters ($12) with a chipotle remoulade a second glance.

However, if you really want to treat yourself to an overall luxurious experience, head to the Ocean House at Watch Hill for their restaurant Seasons. With panoramic views of the water and award winning chefs, this is surely a treat. Because the menu changes with the seasons, an example of their extravagant dining experience is exemplified with their take on Matunuck Oysters, where four are served with citrus, caviar, crème fraiche and sorrel ($17). You can thank us later.

If one thing is clear, it’s that oysters aren’t going anywhere. From the farmers that grow them to the happy diners that pop them in their mouth, it’s a treat for everyone. The farmers, while they are of course providing a good, are clearing up our coastal waters, as these little filter feeders filter gallon after gallon. And we as consumers can actually choose which oysters we develop preferences for. Because believe it or not, oysters grown in Potter Pond have a different flavor profile than those grown in Point Judith Pond or Ninigret Pond. There is always an emphasis on eating local. But now you can eat local while eating something that you know is good for the environment. It’s not like I really needed a reason to eat oysters, but now I have a reason to feel even better about it.