There are times when you just deserve a bowl of pure indulgence. At that moment, you should head directly to Decklyn’s in Gloucester to order the lobster carbonara—a decadent mix of parmesan cheese and blistered cherry tomatoes, topped with chunks of lobster, crisps of house-made bacon, and a soft-poached egg. Break the yolk and toss it with the al dente rigatoni—ribbed to catch the sauce—and be happy you live on the North Shore.
Thoughtful handling of classic New England seafood is a hallmark of this waterfront spot. As at sister restaurant C.K. Pearl in Essex, diners find a mix of well-executed favorites like clam chowder and baked haddock, alongside surprises like that lobster dish and mussels with an Asian flair.
Like the lobster carbonara, the mussels will be familiar to fans of C.K. Pearl. Diners often request the recipe, but that’s a secret. Just know that the bivalves, bathed in a red curry coconut cream sauce, have a gentle kick of heat and are dotted with kernels of fresh corn and cilantro. You’ll want a spoon—or maybe some extra bread—to soak up every drop of the broth.
Of course, a spoon is critical for Decklyn’s “Clam Chowda.” It’s a good consistency, thick enough to support the garnish of fried clams and crispy potato chunks resting on top. The dish gets a nice smokiness from generous chunks of house-cured pork belly.
That’s not the only classic getting an upgrade. The old school Fisherman’s Platter looks familiar, with scallops, clams, oysters, and haddock all lightly breaded, moist, and fresh. But the side of house-made “tarta’” sauce is a sophisticated take on the classic, blended smooth and made with mayo, pickles, capers, vinegar, chopped herbs, and lemon zest.
It’s no wonder local seafood is handled so deftly. Executive chef Ben Insuik moved from the kitchen at C.K. Pearl to helm the new Gloucester endeavor. Before that, Insuik, a native of Andover, worked at Salt Kitchen and Rum Bar in Ipswich. Owner Patrick Shea grew up in Essex, working in his family’s restaurant, then attended culinary school and worked his way through some of Boston’s top restaurants before returning to the North Shore. Decklyn’s is named for his youngest daughter. (Insiders will know that the C.K. in C.K. Pearl stands for his two older daughters, Copley and Kennlee.)
The combination of the two chefs brings a blend of casual and sophisticated that makes Decklyn’s flexible enough for a regular weeknight meal of burgers or fish tacos, or a splash-out. The cozy window-lined dining room, formerly Captain Carlo’s restaurant, offers Gloucester marina views while a vast deck brings the party (follow Decklyn’s social media—there might be live music), and large sliding doors erase the division between the two whenever the weather is nice.
As in any Massachusetts seaside restaurant, steak tips are on the menu for those looking for meat. But weekends bring a special treat for carnivores: A rotating selection of barbeque plates arrives on the menu Fridays and stays until Sunday night or until they run out. Items might include brisket slow-cooked for up to 14 hours, or maybe ribs painted with a house-made BBQ sauce that mixes the style of the Carolinas and Texas, combining sweet ketchup with the tang of the vinegary version.
The drinks list includes a selection of local beers, and a thoughtful wine list, making it easy to swing from weeknight drinks to a special occasion. Cocktails have a beachy vibe that’s perfect for sipping on the deck.
Need a bit more indulgence? The rotating selection of desserts will likely always include the house-made skillet cookie, a chocolate chip cookie baked to ooey-gooey perfection in a personal-size cast-iron pan. The scoop of Richardson’s Moosetracks ice cream on top, along with whipped cream and powdered sugar, might just be gilding the lily. But that’s okay—sharing feels good too.
31 Harbor Loop, Gloucester, 978-283-6342, decklyns.com