A whole lot of restaurants in the North End specialize in dry pasta with red sauce, veal cutlets in 14 different flavors, and out-of-season Caprese salads. Couple this with the fact that the majority of the lobster eaten in the world is overcooked and rubbery and you understand my hesitation to order a lobster special in the North End. But La Brace is far from your typical North End restaurant, and their grilled lobster is far from your typical crustacean.
The dinner menu at La Brace not only has no dry pasta in sight, but has only one veal chop on offer (what? No saltimbocca? No piccata?): a massive, perfectly grilled double-cut chop of the highest quality ($29), which I’d enjoyed on a previous visit. This time, I took the waitress’s recommendation and ordered the grilled lobster. It’s a risk ordering lobster that’s been exposed to the intense heat of a grill — past experiences have left me nursing sore jaw muscles — but here the risk pays off.
A warm salad of paper-thin shaved fennel, arugula, cubes of salty sopressata, and pan-fried potatoes that stayed crisp even when dressed were the base beneath the large half lobster. Served in its shell, split down the middle with the claw meat removed lazy-man-style, the tender and buttery lobster was barely kissed by the smoky flavor of the grill. Though the accompaniments change seasonally, this time the richness of the lobster and the saltiness of the sopressata were perfectly offset by a purée of peaches, like summer in a sauce.
Available often for $19 to $24 (depending on lobster size) at La Brace, 76 Salem Street, in Boston. Call 617.523.8820.