Crudo

Island Creek Oyster Bar

We’ve got nothing against clam chowder. But when Boston seafood is at its best, we're inclined to eschew cooking and dousing in cream; sometimes fish needs little more than a bit of oil and citrus. When our crudo craving peaks, these are the spots we turn to.

The extensive raw bar menu at Row 34 in Fort Point has a dedicated crudo and ceviche section of its own. All choices are winners, but we particularly enjoy the Tuna Crudo with black garlic and avocado—its fatty vegetable serves as the perfect foil to raw seafood. Another standout combo is the Scallop Ceviche served with sweet potato chips: the perfect union of acid and salt.

Crudo is held to high esteem at Saltie Girl, the tiny, walk-in-only Back Bay outpost focused on tinned and raw seafood. The menu itself is an embarrassment of raw riches: Five varieties are served, including a yellowtail with pickled cranberry and shiso and a decadent sea urchin with quail egg yolk and rice caviar. Brought a friend who’s still iffy on raw? Give them a nudge in the right direction with a plate of fatty Torched Salmon Belly with tahini and sushi rice.

By all means, start your meal at Island Creek Oyster Bar with a dozen oysters—whether from the restaurant’s farm or another, the bivalves here are worth a splurge. Once you’ve had your fill, turn your attention to ICOB’s other raw delights, particularly a Salmon Crudo enlivened by lime, cucumber, and a burst of Calabrian chili, and the Smoked Scallop Ceviche featuring brown butter, radish, and caviar.

Lobster rolls may rule the roost at The North End’s pint-sized Neptune Oyster, but those who neglect the oft-changing raw seafood offerings—particularly the Dayboat Scallop Crudo with spicy piri piri oil and fleur de sel—do so at their own peril. As always, you’re going to want to plan ahead and put your name in early.

Michael Serpa’s Back Bay restaurant Select Oyster Bar is one of the best raw seafood destinations in the city, and crudos fit with its fresh, colorful ethos. While tasty specials are frequently offered, it’s hard to get unstuck from the Faroe Islands Salmon Crudo, dressed simply with lime, togarashi, and pistachio oil. The familiar flavors of salmon plus nut-buttery dressing make this a great gateway crudo for the uninitiated.

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