Where to Go for the Freshest, Fanciest Crudo in Boston

By Eric Twardzik
03/25/2022

We’ve got nothing against clam chowder, obviously. But when Boston seafood is at its best, we're inclined to forego cooking altogether (let alone dousing in cream). The Italians and Spaniards call it crudo—which simply means “raw”—and it proves fresh fish needs little more than a bit of oil and citrus. No European lineage is necessary to prepare seafood this way, as evidenced by a crudo offering or two on the menus at many of Boston’s best restaurants. But for those moments when we want a selection of crudo that’s well-balanced and creative, we turn to these eight spots for the best crudo in Boston.

Select Oyster Bar

Chef Michael Serpa’s first Back Bay restaurant is one of the best raw seafood destinations in the city: Crudo helps define the fresh, colorful ethos at Select Oyster Bar. While tasty specials are offered frequently, it’s hard to skip the menu-favorite Faroe Islands Salmon Crudo. This simple delight begins with beautifully marbled fish that’s dressed simply with lime, togarashi, and pistachio oil. The familiar flavors of salmon with a nut-buttery accent make this a great gateway crudo for the uninitiated. (If you really love it, like we do, try making Serpa’s recipe at home: It’s included in our digital cookbook, Dining In Boston.)

Crudo from Saltie Girl

Crudo is held in high esteem at Saltie Girl, a popular restaurant whose focus on tinned and raw seafood has made it a favorite among the sea of Back Bay restaurants. The large menu includes  four dressed-up crudo, from caviar-gilded Day Boat Scallops with lime and avocado, to Yellowtail with grapes, pickled kohlrabi, pomelo, and shiso. Brought a friend who’s still iffy on the raw stuff? Give them a nudge in the right direction by ordering up a luxurious plate of King Salmon dusted with pistachios, drizzled in avocado oil, and accented with the bright crunch of cucumber. It’s a study in balance with a firm, flavorful fish that dives right into what crudo should be.

Ivory Pearl

Brookline’s new-ish raw bar Ivory Pearl puts fresh fish front-and-center, and that includes choices from a trio of creative crudo. Here, mild Hamachi is paired with yuzu, apple, and Fresno. Bold Bluefin Tuna matches with a sesame mojo sauce, pickled mushroom, and a fluffy sung for texture. Torched Salmon is brought to earth with beet, cucumber, and toasted almond. Whichever dish is your choice—why not all three?—there will surely be an imaginative cocktail on offer for a proper pairing: Ivory Pearl comes to us from the folks responsible for top-shelf spots Blossom Bar and The Baldwin Bar.

Most folks who find themselves at the North End’s pint-sized Neptune Oyster are probably there for lobster rolls. We support that—but would also advise anybody to not overlook the daily selection of raw seafood offerings. Depending on the season, there might be petite and sweet Nantucket Bay Scallops simply dressed with fleur de sel and coins of Persian cucumber; or bright-red Bluefin Tuna with fiery piri piri pepitas and buttery slices of Castelvetrano olive. Creatively composed crudo is part of the magic of this iconic Boston restaurant—and certainly partially why you’ll want to plan ahead and put your name in early to get seats at this no-reservations spot.

Eventide Fenway

Eventide Boston Oysters

This counter-service space on Boylston Street is quite different from most other raw bars in Boston, not to mention other Fenway Park pregaming spots. Eventide Fenway—a sleek, industrial outpost of a Portland, Maine favorite—dishes up craft beer and wine, expertly shucked oysters, and a worth-the-hype Brown Butter Lobster Roll like it’s the coolest cafeteria ever. The seafood selection is rounded out with crudo, such as Yellowfin Tuna with a Japanese tare (sauce) and peppery ginger, scallion, and radish. The experience is a home run.

On the raw bar menu at Row 34, there’s a section dedicated to seasonal and signature crudo. All of the choices are winners, but we particularly enjoy the Tuna Crudo with black garlic and avocado—the luscious, fatty vegetable serves as the perfect foil to the rich fish and bracing sauce. This must-try Row 34 dish is on the menus at all three locations, and counting—Fort Point, Burlington, Portsmouth, N.H., and a Cambridge branch coming in fall 2022—while other crudo presentations vary from kitchen to kitchen. Whether there’s Salmon Crudo decorated with apple, lime, and a ginger mezcal-agua or a dash of miso, jalapeño, and scallion, you can expect fresh fish expertly sliced by this team of seafood pros.

Waypoint

Credit: Galdones Photography

When in Harvard Square and craving crudo, check out Waypoint, a seafood-focused spot from the culinary minds behind Alden & Harlow. The restaurant offers four crudos accented with vibrant accoutrements—think: Hiramasa with roasted miso-apple butter and spicy pickled raisin, and Ora King salmon with beet, horseradish, dill and cured egg yolk. To complete your meal, take your pick from Waypoint’s bountiful selection of pastas and pizzas. 

Bar Mezzana

Salmon Crudo - Bar Mezzana
Salmon Crudo - Bar Mezzana

In keeping with this airy South End restaurant’s “Coastal Italian” leanings, Bar Mezzana has made crudo something of a mission statement. Deceptively simple-looking preparations of raw seafood truly channel the sensibilities of seaside Italy (though the spritzes don’t hurt, either). The menu features a half-dozen crudo options at any given time, including the European sea bass Lubina with carrot, ginger, and lime; Scottish Salmon with dainty dollops of Thai basil pesto; and Hiramasa with horseradish and lemon, made extra-luxe with an optional addition of caviar.

Updated by Jacqueline Cain

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