Writing about food on this Island doesn’t just mean writing about the hip new restaurants in town, but also focusing on the longstanding, traditional establishments that have been part of the Island’s fabric for decades. That’s why my visit to the Square Rigger was overdue. I’d eaten there before, but this time I wanted to meet the people behind the food.
Dana Rezendes and his sister Jenny are currently manning the restaurant that their parents, Doreen and Tony, have owned for the past 20 years. Dana is the executive chef, while Jenny runs the front of the house like a smooth sailing ship. The restaurant feels like a classic Cape Cod home with an overall decor of nautical vibes and tchotchkes reminiscent of bygone times. It’s nostalgia at its finest.
“The Rigger,” as most locals call it, is best known for its Rigger Lobsters. I know they have some great steak dishes and pastas, but when I go to the Square Rigger, I go with one thing in mind: lobster.
Locally sourced from Menemsha Fish House, these lobsters are prepared daily. My favorite is the Grilled Lobster Extra Stuffed ($49). Go big or go home, right? This lobster is split and grilled to perfection, the meat left in the shell but then stuffed with extra claw meat, and served with charred lemons and an herbed lemon butter that’s slathered all over the crustacean. The meat is sweet and tender, but what gets me every time is how they make it so incredibly flavorful. It’s served with two side dishes — I always go for the rice and baked potato because I can’t stay away from carbs for more than an hour at a time. Oh, and meals always come with a salad and your choice of housemade dressing.
The classic Baked Stuffed Lobster ($35) is a lobster and breadcrumb stuffing brightened up with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Another offering is the classically Steamed Lobster ($34) served with drawn butter. Ever had Lobster Newburg ($37)? This classic American seafood dish is made from lobster, butter, cream, cognac, and sherry, all served over puff pastry — a traditional dish invented by Ben Wenberg, a sea captain in the fruit trade between Cuba and New York who demonstrated the dish in 1876 at Delmonico’s Restaurant in NYC on one of his onshore stays. It became quite famous, but after a trivial fight between Wenberg and Delmonico, the name was changed to Newberg and stuck.
Maybe I got a little ahead of myself talking about the lobsters before even mentioning that the Square Rigger has a full bar and plenty of appetizers. You should start your meal off with their Local Clams Casino ($13). These little gems are topped with a seasoned breadcrumb mixture that is crisp and tasty, the ideal way to kick off your meal. For dessert, try a Lemon Ice Box Cake that’s refreshing, light yet creamy, and the perfect way to finish up a lobster dinner.
The Square Rigger is located on 225 Vineyard Haven Road, Edgartown, and open daily for dinner starting at 5:30 pm. For reservations, call 508-627-9968. _