Rhode Island – 19244 Miles Driven.
I’ve eaten at a few restaurants that pride themselves on promoting farm to table dining, not too many that offer pond to plate, and none that do both. That changed when I visited Matunuck Oyster Bar.
By the age of 12 years old, Rhode Island local Perry Raso was already digging for littleneck clams, and growing up he carried on catching seafood. A bachelors and masters degree in aquaculture and fisheries followed, where he learnt how to grow oysters and spent time in Cape Verde exploring how growing seafood can help feed people in developing markets. In 2002 Perry leased an acre of land in Potters Pond. That acre is now seven; a farm that produces and sells over a million oysters each year.
Matunuck Oyster Bar that overlooks Perry’s oyster farm opened in 2007, and is widely recognised as being one of the finest oyster bars in the country.
Perry was kind enough to show me around the docks where some of his team were scooping oyster seeds into bags destined for the water, and using an interesting looking tumbling machine to sort the grown oysters into sizes. I also got a tour of Perry’s nearby pioneering organic vegetable farm, that grows greens and herbs to be used in the restaurant and to be sold at local farmers markets.
As for the food itself, well it really was a seafood treat. If the ingredients are not from Perry’s own farms, they’ll be sourced as locally as possible. There’s a raw bar where you can choose from various shellfish, or you can opt for classic seafood dishes prepared by head chef Jeff Cruff. I had to try some of the fresh Matunuck oysters on the half shell, and you really can’t beat eating oysters while overlooking the place they were grown. I decided to mix it up a little with my choice of shellfish, and ordered myself a pint of lightly fried whole belly clams. They were unbelievable, so very sweet and so very good, and I’m not sure I’ve every knowingly tried to eat a whole pint of clams before, and it was a struggle, but there was absolutely no way I was going to leave any of them behind.
You don’t have to spend long in Perry’s company to appreciate just how passionate he is about the work that he does, whether it’s exploring greener techniques to grow vegetables, developing sustainable aquaculture, or running a very successful restaurant. Beautiful setting, great food, inspiring story; I can’t wait to go back.
Matunuck Oyster Bar is located at; 629 Succotash Rd, South Kingstown, RI 02879. Telephone; +1 (401) 783-4202.