Photo courtesy of Abbott’s Lobster In the Rough
Lobster rolls are often associated with Maine, but Connecticut has its own version of this coastal delicacy. Instead of being served cold and coated with mayo, the Connecticut lobster roll is prepared hot and covered in melted butter.
In the Nutmeg State, try this lobster roll at seafood shacks or local restaurants. Open seasonally or year-round, and some being BYOB, these establishments are found along different parts of Connecticut’s shoreline, from within Fairfield and New Haven counties to along the I-95 corridor.
Photo courtesy of Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale
Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale – Madison and Westbrook
Established by brothers Lenny and Joe Goldberg, this eatery started in Madison as a drive-in clam stand in 1979. They’ve also been running a second location in Westbrook since May 1986.
Their hot buttered lobster roll is nicely placed in a toasty buttered New England-style hot dog bun. Other menu choices involve broiled shellfish or fresh fish meals, fried seafood orders (clam strips, whole clams and sea scallops, among other selections) and fish and chips.
About a five-minute drive to Hammonasset State Park, Lenny & Joe’s in Madison also has a Charity Carousel. Adorned with wooden carved animals, including a double lobster chariot, hippopotamus, lion and seal, ticket sales from rides go to local charities.
Photo courtesy of Donahue’s Clam Castle
Donahue’s Clam Castle – Madison
For over six decades, Donahue’s Clam Castle located along the Connecticut shoreline has remained a local favorite.
Co-owned by siblings Dave, Chris and Pat Donahue since 2014 – the family also runs the next-door Donahue’s Madison Beach Grill – this “castle” has many lobster options.
Their lobster grilled cheese is packed with sharp cheddar and fontina cheeses and tomato on white or wheat bread and with coleslaw and pickles. Their jumbo six-ounce lobster roll comes out warmed, sweet buttered and with a lemon wedge; the lobster slider is a smaller version. Plus, their New England-style bread rolls are supplied directly by Lupi Marchigiano Bakery in New Haven.
Golden fried seafood selections are plentiful. Tacos are served either with cod or scallops and adorned with pico de gallo, cilantro, cabbage slaw and lime crema. There’s also a shrimp taco, with pickled red onions, cabbage slaw and chimichurri sauce.
Photo courtesy of Abbott’s Lobster In the Rough
Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough – Noank
Located at the mouth of the Mystic River, Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough remains a popular draw with its waterside dining, with outdoor picnic tables complimented by dockside views.
Abbott’s Famous Hot Lobster Roll consists of a quarter pound of lobster meat adorned with melted creamery butter on a toasted bun. Or try the twice-the-size OMG Hot Lobster Roll and the LOL Hot Lobster Roll, with one full-pound of fresh lobster meat.
Other selections include steamers, stuffed clams, clam chowder, seafood dinners, crab rolls and tuna salad rolls. Chicken and ribs are also available.
Check out Costello’s Clam Shack, which is Abbott’s sister restaurant also on Pearl Street, or head to downtown Mystic for Abbott’s Outpost which just opened in June.
Photo courtesy of Guilford Lobster Pound
Guilford Lobster Pound – Guilford
Situated on Guilford Harbor, this family-run business is owned by Captain Bart Mansi and operated with his wife, Janice, and daughter, Erica. A longtime lobster fisherman, Mansi makes his catches aboard his 42-foot lobster boat, “Erica Page.”
Along with a four-ounce hot lobster roll, Guilford Lobster Pound’s menu includes a lobster grilled cheese, a clear broth clam chowder, hot dogs aka “sea dogs,” Georgia hots, coleslaw and potato salad.
Their deckside location provides different viewpoints of the Connecticut shoreline, with Falkner Island to the south, Grass Island to the east and protected salt marshes to the west.
Photo courtesy of Ford’s Lobster
Ford’s Lobster – Noank
“Mystic Pizza” fans might recognize this place from the film, but this restaurant originally was a gas dock and bait and tackle shop in the 1950s. A retail lobster shack was added on two decades after.
When Kristian Nyman purchased the business in 2005, he and his wife, Kerri, bought a hot dog cart five years later to serve lobster rolls and entice prospective customers.
Nowadays, Ford’s Lobster has indoor dining and take-out menus. Along with a lobster roll that can be buttery hot or cold with mayo, this crustacean comes in other presentations – a BLT, a risotto and a mac and cheese, and as part of an avocado grilled cheese.
Then there’s the Bisque Bomb sandwich, a half-pound of fresh picked lobster served hot and topped with lobster bisque.
Photo courtesy of Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock
Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock – New London
This New London institution consists of an outdoor restaurant with a walk-up window for placing orders and then waiting at your picnic table amid the dockside seating area.
The Captain Scott’s menu board lists New England and Rhode Island clam chowders and lobster bisques, seafood sandwiches and dinners, burgers and hot dogs. Their hot lobster roll is available as a small or large portion with coleslaw. Tip: add on a side of clam fritters.
Photo courtesy of The Lobster Shack
The Lobster Shack – Westport
In opening The Lobster Shack in 2016, Bill Rizzuto drew upon his work experiences. Before owning Rizzuto’s Oyster Bar & Restaurant in Westport and Rizzuto’s Restaurant & Bar in West Hartford, he grew up on Long Island and spent his summers as a mate on a charter fishing boat in Montauk.
The lobster roll selection encompasses Maine and Connecticut styles on a butter-toasted brioche bun. The warm Connecticut-style version is matched up against a Maine-styled chilled lobster roll and a Maine BLT.
Build your own lobster roll with add-ons ranging from bacon to avocado; a gluten-free roll is also available. Fish and chips, salads, a Shack burger and jumbo lump crab cake sandwich round out the options.
Photo courtesy of Liv’s Shack Old Saybrook
Liv’s Shack – Old Saybrook
Begun as a weekend stand at Connecticut farmers’ markets and the Durham Fair, Liv’s Shack has become a seasonal spot at Old Saybrook’s Harbor One Marina. Opened in 2014 by John Brescio, owner and executive chef at Liv’s Oyster Bar, also in Old Saybrook, this marina venue has hot buttered lobster rolls, hot dogs and hamburgers.
Liv’s Dockside Grill, a fellow lobster spot at the Clinton Marina, has both quarter-pound and half-pound hot buttered lobster rolls; a lobster grilled cheese with American and cheddar; and the “Shack Attack,” a combo of even quarter pounds of lobster and hamburger.
Photo courtesy of Overton’s Seafood
Overton’s – Norwalk
This dockside restaurant overlooking the Norwalk Harbor has remained a city staple for six decades. Along with their buttered hot lobster roll, Overton’s is popular for its fried seafood selections; among them, fried clams and fried shrimp.
Their on-premise ice cream shop offers dessert choices including soft serve or hard ice cream, a banana split or a sundae.
Photo courtesy of Lobster Landing
Lobster Landing – Clinton
Don’t let the rustic appearance of this beloved seafood shack along Long Island Sound fool you.
The same goes with the short menu, as patrons flock to Lobster Landing for their hot lobster roll that’s given a squeeze of lemon. Add on their New England clam chowder as well.
Non-seafood eaters can order a sweet Italian sausage and peppers and onions on a toasted roll, or try a hot dog.