The Studio (REOPENED--NEW REVIEW TO COME)
51 Rocky Neck Avenue, Gloucester, MA 01930
Cape Ann is a great place to be if you're a seafood lover, and an even better place to be if you're both a seafood lover and an art lover. At the tip of the rocky strip of land are Gloucester and Rockport, with downtown Gloucester being known in part for its waterfront seafood restaurants and the center of Rockport being known in part for its many art galleries. And there is a tiny peninsula in East Gloucester that may not be as well known to tourists, yet it features both; indeed, the Rocky Neck section of this seafaring city has a handful of eateries mixed in with the many galleries found in this historic art colony. And one of these restaurants is a spacious spot called The Studio that has water views, an array of seafood dishes, summery drinks, live entertainment, and one of the largest outdoor decks on the entire North Shore of Massachusetts.
Like most of the other businesses in Rocky Neck, The Studio is located right on the water, facing East Main Street and the beautiful homes tucked into the low hills that make up East Gloucester. The restaurant itself is basically a three-tiered spot with the area by the entrance including a bar on the left and a section for entertainment on the right, the middle area including a large but cozy dining section with huge windows overlooking the water, and the back section (downward via a ramp) being the aforementioned outdoor deck, which also has a small cabana bar tucked away to the left. The deck doesn't have a ton of shade, though umbrellas at the tables do help a bit, depending on the time of day. Because Smith's Cove (the waterway between Rocky Neck and East Gloucester) is so narrow, the deck at The Studio gives the illusion that you are on a boat in the middle of Gloucester Harbor, making for some pretty amazing scenery, especially late in the day as the sun starts to drop.
While The Studio is mainly a seafood restaurant, its menu could also be classified as classic American as well, as not everything on its menu comes from the ocean. Appetizers include some delicious crab cakes with lots of meat and very little filler, tender and fresh calamari, and both oysters and mussels as well as clam chowder and lobster bisque. Entrees run the gamut from a juicy and substantial burger to a hearty baked haddock plate to pan-seared scallops with a creamy pesto, along with steak dishes, pasta plates, and both boiled lobster and baked stuffed lobster. Speaking of lobster, one of the most interesting items at The Studio is the lobster quesadilla plate. This dish, which has a lot of high-quality lobster meat (including a good amount of claw meat) is only on special--though it apparently is available much of the time--and is considered an appetizer though it is large enough to be made into a meal. Alcoholic beverages at The Studio include an array of beers as well as drinks that you would expect to find at a waterside restaurant, such as a "lava flow" that includes among its ingredients rum, coconut, and strawberries. Prices at The Studio are mostly reasonable, especially considering the views you get with your food.
While The Studio may not quite be in the class of some of the best seafood restaurants in the downtown area of Gloucester (or the center of Rockport, for that matter--Roy Moore Lobster Co. immediately comes to mind there), if you love art, water views, and solid seafood dishes, a trip to the galleries of Rocky Neck followed by a meal at The Studio certainly makes for a very fun day.
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