I always keep a keen eye out for new restaurants by simply walking or driving around the city’s neighborhoods. A while ago, I happened upon Ralic’s on South, which features seafood. I visited the website and decided to make a visit.
It has been especially cold and windy, so the breath of warm air that greeted us was most welcome. Ralic’s is a large space with 180 seats and numerous televisions on which to enjoy March Madness. Two women were sipping wine and enjoying appetizers at the bar when Edward and I arrived. Since the dining room was empty, we joined them.
They were regulars as were two men who slid onto bar stools for draft beers and assorted happy hour appetizer specials, which we did not notice until one of the gentlemen pointed them out to us. This was most kind.
The man in charge of the kitchen is executive chef John Anninos. We were told he used to be a commercial fisherman, which is a difficult job I appreciate.
The menu was simple, large and straightforward. There were no gimmicks or trendy dishes. This suited me fine.
A Bluecoat martini ($10) and Rob Roy ($9.50) were icy cold and expertly prepared. The price was right, too. We began with two happy hour appetizers.
Fried calamari ($5 or $9.50 regular price) consisted of a large mound of piping-hot, tender bay squid dusted in seasoned flour and flash fried to a golden brown. The squid was crisp and tasty. We especially liked the inclusion of hot peppers, which added a small kick because, thank goodness, Anninos had a light hand.
Mussels ($5 or $8.50 regular price) can be ordered in a red, white or cream sauce. I cannot think of any restaurant that charges such a modest price for a good-sized portion of farm-raised mollusks bathed in a light white wine sauce with garlic and fresh herbs. They were free of grit and sand. A basket of warm bread arrived just in time for us to finish off the sauce.
I have eaten New England clam chowder all over the city and in Boston. The bartender told us Anninos adds carrots to his version ($6.50). I have never seen this, but tried it. He was much too heavy handed here. The soup was the right consistency but was too sweet. A server saw I was not eating the soup and removed it from the bill.
The Manhattan version ($6.50) fared better. It was chock full of clams, vegetables and the right touch of tomato. Some restaurants add a dash of cream, but Anninos prepares it straight.
Edward orders a fried seafood combination whenever he can. It takes him straight back to his childhood when he and his family spent Sunday evenings at Fisher’s Restaurant on Broad Street. This version ($27.50) made a fine presentation. The platter was brimming with shrimp, calamari, scallops and flounder. Each fish was done just right and not a bit overcooked. The problem was they lacked flavor. The coating on our calamari appetizer was nicely seasoned, but here we could not even detect a hair of salt. The pepper mill arrived and pepped things up a bit. Extra tartar sauce appeared almost as soon as we requested it. Since the platter was so generous, we toted some flounder and shrimp home to enjoy the next night at which time I seasoned it and warmed it up in the oven. It was simply delicious.
Broiled stuffed shrimp ($17.50) smacks of the 1950s and ’60s. When carefully prepared, it can be a most satisfying dish. I received about five midsize shrimp topped with bits of crabmeat and simply broiled. They also required a bit of seasoning, but arrived on a pool of butter sauce that added a bit of depth and moistness. The side of sautéed spinach needed some garlic and herbs.
The wine list is currently undergoing a revision. We wanted to share a glass of white wine that would drink well with our entrées and chose a sauvignon blanc from New Zealand ($8). Like the cocktails, it was priced just right.
Two tips of the toque to Ralic’s on South.
119 South St.
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