Four separate dining areas with their own cozy fireplaces abound at this comfortable family restaurant. Try the shrimp scampi, the crab cakes or the baked stuffed shrimp, but don`t let the name deceive you; there are plenty of menu selections to satisfy even the pickiest land-dweller. Longevity and consistency are words that best describe the Saybrook Fish House, a restaurant that has endured since 1984 under the same three owners who have spent their careers satisfying the appetites of seafood enthusiasts in Connecticut.
Joe Addonizio, Tom Petrizzo and John Willard were involved in the startup of several seafood restaurants along the Connecticut shoreline in the 1970s and early 1980s before bringing their craft inland to Canton 26 years ago. The partnership works because it ignores the latest trends in the restaurant business, according to Addonizio, who lives in Southbury.
A really good fish house is something that can exist and thrive without giving in to the trends of the day, he said. Some places are really hot for five or six years and then people want something else. But with seafood, there isn’t a reason to change much. In addition to the owners, the staff has been around a long time too, particularly the chefs, John Scopino and Steve Morel Duboil, who have been with the restaurant for 20 and 14 years, respectively. They have a green light to be creative, whether it`s with daily specials or new twists on traditional entrees.
The restaurant`s relaxed, informal setting features two dining areas, dining in the bar, and a dining room for private gatherings. There are booths and tables, all covered by the restaurant`s signature brown craft paper tablecloths. Shakers of sea salt and glass jars of crayons stand on each table, the crayons available for drawing on the tablecloths. Fish nets and other signs of the sea decorate the wood walled interior, which has two stone fireplaces kept ablaze during the winter. While most patrons come from neighboring towns, Addonizio said, some make the restaurant a destination, traveling from the shoreline, east of the Connecticut River and even New York. It`s a great atmosphere with good people and good food for your money, said Tony Neri of Harwinton, who was having a late lunch with a group of golfing friends on Tuesday. That’s why we keep coming back.
About 80 percent of the menu is seafood, all of it fresh and closely inspected before being allowed into the restaurant, Addonizio said. Entrees include sole, scrod, blackened catfish, salmon, scallops, baked stuffed shrimp, bouillabaisse, seafood combo, crab cakes and king crab. The bouillabaisse, a popular dish, is doused with saffron broth and garlic sauce and served over pasta. Another big draw is the Poseidon Adventure, a collection of fish and shellfish over pasta, broth and garlic sauce. It includes crab legs and a lobster tail and, as its name indicates, makes for some adventurous eating.
There`s a selection of seafood with pasta and a choice of fried fish cooked in healthy oils. Entrees, ranging from $15 to $26, are generous in portion and include salad and bread and a choice of potato or glutenfree organic shortgrain rice sauteed with vegetables. A large selection of appetizers at $12 and under is available, as are soups and salads ($12 and under) and burgers and sandwiches ($16 and under). If seafood isn’t your fancy, chicken, pasta, ribs and steak dishes can be had for $23 and under.
Chefs Scopino and Morel Duboil are willing to create dishes to meet the dietary needs of diners, too. The lunch menu includes many of the same entrees but at lower prices, while the dining area in the bar offers a lighterfare menu called the bayside. Those with room left after their dinners can try New York style cheesecake, key lime pie, triple layer mousse cake, carrot cake, snickers pie and chocolate mud pie. Prices are $4.50 and $5.
WHAT TO DRINK
The full-service bar offers bottled beer, eight tap beers, wine, hard liquor and soda.
Reservations recommended on Fridays, Saturdays and holidays.
All major credit cards accepted.
Has a children’s menu.
Can accommodate private functions for up to 100.
WHEN TO GO
Open for lunch Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Open for dinner Monday through Thursday, 4 to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4 to 10:30 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 8 p.m.
460 Albany Turnpike 06019