Order this... Shrimp oreganata at The National

Fri, 06/17/2016 - 11:30am

The National Hotel is a fine reminder of Block Island’s long history of tourism. Sitting up over the Old Harbor and Water Street (the main street), this grand hotel has a long, shady porch for dining (serving three meals a day), where guests enjoy the fresh sea air and action on the harbor.   

Shrimp Oreganata on The National’s dinner menu is a great choice for every seafood lover. Top chef Anthony Melele said, “It’s one of our best menu choices — lobster pasta is another — and it’s healthy, not fried.” It has been on the menu every year because it’s so popular.

The shrimp in this dish are lightly topped with an in-house crumb mixture of panko, crushed Ritz crackers, Parmesan cheese, oregano and garlic, and baked in a sea salt, savory butter and white wine. They ring a creamy risotto rice made with mascarpone cheese, asparagus and tomatoes. It’s all a nice balance of crunchy and savory that complements but does not overpower the shrimp. 

Melele started as a server and worked his way up to chef. “I’ve been in this restaurant 18 years and never seen a staff like this. I love working here,” he said. Melele said he has plenty on the kitchen crew, many who come from Johnson & Wales and have been with him for several years. "Thirty people can show up without reservations and we can accommodate them,” he added.

A raw bar introduced last year will be expanded this year in July and August. Another attraction is the garden behind the building complete with fire pits for cool nights. S’mores are on the menu. — Becky Ballard and Ruth Perfido  

For more information about The National, visit blockislandhotels.com.