There isn’t a bad seat in the new Tuscan Sea Grill in Newburyport, with the Merrimack River sitting in serene focus from every vantagepoint. Renovations on the former Black Cow space created an airy ode to the waterfront, from white shiplap on the vaulted ceiling to a clear roof over the patio, all combining to fill the space with light.
“It’s the most beautiful restaurant I’ve ever been a part of,” says General Manager Cory Heagarty. “I don’t even feel like I’m going to work.”
It’s been a long time coming—the Black Cow moved to a new location more than two years ago, leaving this waterfront jewel empty, and speculation has run high about what might take its place. When Tuscan Brands, the powerhouse restaurant and market group owned by Joe Faro, made the commitment, Heagarty says the company, well-known for the three Tuscan Kitchen locations in Boston, Burlington, and Salem, New Hampshire, decided to create something specific to this special spot, perched on the edge of the river.
“We wanted to give respect to Newburyport and meld it with the Tuscan concept,” Heagarty says, noting that the restaurant offers the same commitment to artisanal food, with many raw ingredients imported directly from Italy, but combined with a heavy emphasis on local seafood.
Perhaps no dish reflects this marriage better than the Lobster Pizza. It starts with the airy toothsome dough, made with the imported double-zero flour the company is known for, baked in a copper oven that is the focal point of the new open kitchen. But from there, it takes a hard turn into New England—the pie is topped with Vermont cheddar cheese, roasted corn, and a generous amount of tender, perfectly cooked claw and knuckle meat. Seafood is found throughout the menu—in a delectable Paella, and of course, with house-made pasta.
In addition to being bright and welcoming, the airy 6,000-sqare-foot building has plenty of room for the new realities of restaurants. Socially distanced tables are easy to have both indoors and out. Heagarty says that as safety is paramount, for now not every table will be for seating, but rather to keep the space from feeling empty.
As lovely as the new concept is, don’t expect to see Tuscan Sea Grill popping up all over New England. Heagarty says plans for the brand’s future include identifying what fits in each community, and using that to craft a special Tuscan Brands-style experience.
Tuscan Sea Grill will be open every day for lunch and dinner, and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
Monday – Thursday: 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday: 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
38R Merrimac Street, Newburyport, 978.465.2211, tuscanseagrillbar.com