It’s August. We’re all busy. We all feel overworked and overtired. And we probably are, but in the spirit of “there’s always a bigger fish,” let’s consider this: at least four new restaurants have opened on Martha’s Vineyard in the past few weeks.
Anyone who has worked in food service — especially here, especially in summer — knows that the restaurant business is notoriously taxing. Long hours spent on tired feet in hot kitchens are already a hassle, but imagine doing it all from scratch in the busiest month of the year. Our brave friends at these new restaurants are marching fearlessly into August, reviving old haunts and adding new hotspots to the Island restaurant scene, maternally serving up food to strangers, some of whom have faces only a mother could love — and attitudes to match.
Truthfully, our servers and managers, hosts and cooks deserve culinary medals of honor. So take some time from your busy schedule and enjoy these newly opened spots. And don’t forget to tip your servers, and send compliments to the chef.
Isola: Back in the day (if you consider the 90s back in the day) Isola was the name of a Martha’s Vineyard restaurant owned by Todd and Olivia English, Glenn Close, Michael J. Fox, and Boston Bruins great Cam Neely. As of July 25, 2014, Isola (it’s Italian for island) is the name of the restaurant in Edgartown’s Post Office Square where Lattanzi’s used to be, owned by the Sullo family and featuring chef Max Eagan, all of Rocco’s fame. By day, Isola’s store front serves organic coffee, baked goods, pizza slices, and other lunch options. “I wanted to do a lot of raw foods,” said Gabrielle Sullo, manager of the store front. Healthy treat options, like the “amazeballs” are naturally dairy, sugar, grain, and gluten-free. When the bell tolls 5:30, the bar and restaurant open up for drinks and tasty Italian style entrées. “We’re getting busier as the word gets out,” said Gabrielle. “We’re definitely getting a lot of local business.”
Takeout window now open from 11 am to 7 pm. Bar and restaurant open for dinner every night from 5:30 to 10 pm. 774-549-9428.
No offense to Pirate Jack’s Burger Shack, which used to grace this location on Oak Bluffs Avenue, but a peanut butter slathered bacon burger with fries isn’t exactly proper beach take-out. Pirate Jack’s replacement, Bee Dee’s, specializes in lighter fare, especially healthy to-go options such as salads, wraps, and paninis. The coolest part is they now deliver via tricycle to The Inkwell and Oak Bluffs Town Beach (Pay Beach), so sun soakers don’t even have to get off their sandy beach bums for lunch (order online at beedeesmv.com, or use their delivery app).
“We’ve had a lot of enthusiastic response about the delivery,” said co-owner Barbara Ciccolini. “It’s something Oak Bluffs has needed for a while. We were longtime visitors to the Island, and we always had that argument about who was going to go to town to get food. We also wanted to fill that void of food that was fresh and not always fried.”
Create-your-own sandwich options are available for omnivores, herbivores, vegana-vores, and glutenfree-a-vores, as well as flavorful salad combinations that can be rolled into a wrap. It’s not all rabbit food though: sweet-toothed O.B. dwellers can try a sweet panini on sweet bread or pound cake, filled with a combination of chocolate, bananas, sweet preserves, and topped with vanilla bean ice cream and housemade sweet sauces such as caramel. Bee Dee’s is friendly to Islanders and vacationers alike, offering a 10 percent discount with an Oak Bluffs hotel room key, and 10 percent Wednesdays for Island employees.
Now serving lunch and dinner from 11 am to 9:30 pm. Breakfast available at 7:30 am Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. 508-338-2220; beedeesmv.com.
Fishbones: This prime piece of real estate on Oak Bluffs Harbor was bought out by Santoro Hospitality Group, owners of The Lookout Tavern, earlier this year, and strollers along the harbor have been anxiously awaiting its revival.
Though the name and logo of the waterfront bar and grill haven’t changed, manager Lisa Hawkes says the new Fishbones has updated it all. Not just the building, but chef Justin Stenuis has helped reinvent the menu with a Caribbean twist on seafood. Items such as coconut shrimp and blackened mahi mahi with mango salsa made their debut at Fishbones for the July 26 season opening.
“It was hard finding staffing in the middle of the summer, and we wanted to complete the new kitchen and the new menu,” said Ms. Hawkes of the late-season opening. “But we wanted to make sure if we were going to do this, we were doing it right.”
Now serving lunch and dinner from 11 am to 10:30 pm (bar until 11). 508-696-8227; fishbonesgrille.com.
After a brief hiatus, Jimmy Sea’s returned on July 17 under new ownership, but with the same old beloved experience of eating pasta straight from a pan bigger than your head.
Chef Scotty, who has been with Jimmy Seas for almost 20 years, is still manning the kitchen. Specializing in seafood and Italian flavors, Jimmy Sea’s offers linguini, scampi, and ravioli dishes with shrimp, lobster, beef, chicken, and more with tomato, pesto, and cream bases.
They’ve also hopped on the gluten-free bandwagon with some of their pastas, and new this year, they are offering house special pastas every night. “It got busy instantly,” said manager Olga Brown. “But our crew caught on right away, and it’s been a pretty smooth start.”
Now open for dinner from 5 pm to 10 pm. 508-687-9702; jimmyseaspanpasta.com.