Worth Knowing: A piece of Boston's North End is now open in Woodstock - seriously - GREAT new restaurant
I have no idea how I could have NOT known about a fabulous new restaurant that opened in Woodstock nearly a month ago. I mean I am flabbergasted that I hadn't heard a peep about it until this week. So I am writing to share this most excellent news with you. Hopefully we can all start supporting the Upper Valley's newest and best fish restaurant.
What is the North End of Boston famous for? You know the answer. In addition to being home to Boston's earliest residential neighborhood, the North End is well known and loved for its Italian food. There's an Italian restaurant that's been in the North End for over 50 years, and that restaurant is The Daily Catch.
Born to Italian immigrants and raised in the North End, Paul Freddura dreamed of owning his own business. He'd learned about seafood on the docks and fish houses of Boston. He saw an opportunity when he realized he could make money selling fried calamari instead of fried clams. You see clams were expensive, and he could buy squid for 15 cents a pound and then a sell a box of fried calamari for $3.50. Paul's entrepreneurial scheme was working, so in 1973 he opened up a tiny storefront on Hanover Street in the North End called The Daily Catch. Customers could come to buy fresh seafood or eat raw clams or fried fish offerings - including calamari.
Fried Calamari at The Daily Catch in Woodstock
Six years later, Paul met Maria Lombardo. Maria had grown up in Upstate New York and had come from a restaurant family. She'd moved to Boston to study architecture, but Paul had other plans for her. And Maria clearly liked those plans. So she joined him at The Daily Catch and worked with him to market their fried calamari and other offerings at fairs and festivals along the east coast.
Paul and Maria got married in 1983 and began building their family that eventually included 7 - SEVEN! - sons: Maximilian, Basil, Theo, Sage, Sebastian, Louis and Dominic.
Paul and Maria have been running The Daily Catch in its original North End location since then, and have also added locations at the Boston Seaport and in Brookline, Massachusetts. They continue to offer their famous fried calamari, but they also offer Sicilian-style dishes made with New England’s freshest fish and shellfish prepared with imported olive oils, pasta and vinegar.
In 2017, the Fredduras opened a seafood processing and food production facility to function as commissary to its restaurant locations and to seafood wholesalers.
All seven Freddura boys have pitched in at the family's business over the years, starting at a very young age when they'd bus tables and occasionally man the fry station. And today all of the sons work for the family business. One son is the business's wine expert, another runs the fish pier operation, another handles all of the information technology and operations, and so on.
In September 2018 the family opened their fourth and most recent location at 61 Central Street in Woodstock, Vermont.
Inside The Daily Catch
And this is where I sat down with Chef Kristen Zagranski late on Friday afternoon. She told me that Maria had always loved the town of Woodstock and dreamed of having an inland location there. Okay, works for me. Chef Kristen also told me a little bit about her background. She's been a chef for nearly 30 years, starting in Mount Holyoke, Massachusetts in the late 1980's. She went to culinary school in Oregon and has worked as a chef in Colorado, New Mexico, Washington and Alaska.
Chef Kristen views her job at The Daily Catch as taking the freshest seafood and other ingredients possible and serving them to her diners using the simple but tried and true recipes developed by The Daily Catch over the last 50 years. The seafood is delivered two - sometimes three - times a week from the company's fishing pier. When Basil (the son operating the processing facility at the pier) gets something special - like Halibut or oysters - he'll call Chef Kristen and ask her if she wants it. The restaurant's lobster crabcakes, black pasta (squid ink) and red sauce are all made at the processing facility. Kristen makes the white sauce on site in Woodstock, using cherry stone clams she's shucked into a strainer, saving and straining the juice, pasteurizing the juice and straining it again. The Daily Catch buys its produce from local company Black River Produce and sources chicken (the one non-fisea” item on the menu) from a New England farm.
Chef Kristen Zagranski
So what's on this menu? Trust me, a lot.
When I sat down with Kristen she insisted on sharing a couple of her favorite appetizers with me. There was fried calamari of course, and it was the freshest, most delicious fried calamari I've ever tried. And then there were the Clams Casino that were so stuffed with tender clam meat (yes, I just described clam meat as tender) that I asked her if each Clam Casino contained meat from 5 cherrystones.
Proving that the answer was no, Kristen shucked a cherrystone and handed the half shell containing an enormous ocean-fresh clam to me with a lemon. I promise you that if you like calamari and clams, you will be beyond delighted by The Daily Catch.
What else is on the menu? Oh things like the Calamari Meatballs (made from squid that's seasoned and simmered in tomato sauce), the Shrimp and Scallop Linguini (sauteed in garlic butter with broccoli and served over linguine with olive oil), Monkfish Marsala (monkfish medallions simmered with mushrooms in a marsala wine-butter sauce), selections of broiled fish (scrod, scallops, haddock, swordfish or tuna), Fish & Chips, Mussels Siciliano (with fennel, onion, fresh herbs, lemon and wine) and the famous Black Pasta served with your choice of Aglio Olio, Puttanesca or Alfredo sauce. Specials on Friday included Vegan Chickpea Stew, Tempura Monkfish and Lobster Crabcakes with Tarragon Aioli. Yes, of course there are salads and plenty of other things (like dessert) on the menu, but you'll need to go look for yourself.
The Specials board on Friday
Finally, The Daily Catch in Woodstock offers more than 60 different red and white wines on the extensive wine list, with many available by the glass.
The Upper Valley's newest and best fish restaurant is open on Sunday from 12:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Tuesday and Wednesday from 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm, Thursday from 2:00 pm - 9:00 pm, Friday from 2:00 pm - 10:00 pm and Saturday from 12:00 pm - 10:00 pm. I strongly suggest that you go try it now. Don't miss the fried calamari.
Proprietors Maria and Paul Freddura with their 7 sons
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