Oysters Bar and Grille
An Ocean of Flavor - Oysters Bar and Grille delivers fine cuisine made from scratch
Husband and wife culinary team Joe and Megan Emma started dreaming of opening their own restaurant after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, New York. Recently, with the help of Joe’s father Ron Emma of Ron Emma Restaurant Group, they were able to make their dream a reality by opening Oysters Bar and Grille in Pembroke.
The new restaurant combines different aspects of the couple’s favorite restaurant features with an atmosphere that reflects the South Shore’s relaxed, coastal feel and a menu that changes four times a year. Executive Chef Joe designed the from-scratch menu, which features creative seafood dishes, and with a name like Oysters you can guess what their number one “must have” menu item was.
Inside the restaurant, a bright entryway unfolds to a dining room with steel blue walls decorated by abstract nautical and earthy artwork. Polished black tables are set with pastel blue linen napkins folded into a pocket and stuffed with polished silverware.
On my visit to the restaurant, I nestled in at a long sofa bench that accompanies the front row of tables. I could see across to the kitchen window where Joe works six nights a week, creating beautiful dishes like roasted beet salad, baked crusted cod, and a house-made pomegranate raspberry sorbet served in a chilled martini glass.
In the bar area, which is separated from the dining room by a shoulder height wall, ocean green colored walls complement the sandy swirled granite topped bar. Five different varieties of fresh oysters are written in chalk on a large blackboard. The selection changes daily and is offered for a dollar an oyster on weekdays from 4 – 5 p.m. (my kind of happy hour!). The board also lists items on the bar menu, such as lamb sliders, oysters Rockefeller, fried and baked clams, and salmon cakes dressed with arugula and horseradish aioli (all offered in the dining room as well). The components of each dish, including sauces, dressings, broths, and pastas are made from scratch and fresh bread is baked daily to be served at each table alongside a plate of olive oil and white bean puree for dipping.
The first thing my dinner companion and I ordered after indulging in the soft warm bread was a glass of Prosecco with a few raw oysters and Rockefellers. What better than oysters and champagne? The raw oysters we chose were from Blue Point, Connecticut and boy were they zesty and delicious (served with a side of horseradish, cocktail sauce, and mignonette sauce). Sautéed spinach was laid over a perfectly baked oyster Rockefeller appetizer, with a surprising crispy Parmesan cheese topping.
The Emmas are always coming up with new ideas to incorporate oceanic treats into the menu; Oyster Po’ Boys and vodka and tequila oyster shooters have become popular bar snacks. Common combinations like scallops and bacon get a creative spin by serving the seared scallops with a bacon beurre blanc sauce and bacon pieces.
For an entrée, the New England Bouillabaisse was calling and arrived more beautifully plated than I could have imagined. Giant shrimp (with the heads still on) sat atop a mixture of large sea scallops and clams, swimming in a saffron fennel broth. The flavors of the broth were spot on—not too overpowering or salty to blow out the flavors of the seafood. Two slices of baguette were served on the dish as well for dipping, each with a spread of saffron rouille.
Beside seafood options, the menu boasts exquisite salads, homemade pasta dishes and hearty meat entrees like a hanger steak or braised pork shank. My dinner date ordered a lamb special. The serving size was perfect and so was the medium-rare cooked lamb, sliced and placed over a potato rosti. We finished our meal with an order of the coffee and donuts (a must try). A handful of freshly fried donut holes are rolled and sugar and served in a wire basket along with a coffee mug filled with house-made espresso ice cream. I am excited to come back and see what fun new creations pop up on the menu throughout the summer.