The Cape lays claim to an abundance of indigenous ingredients that only a short list of chefs utilize in diverse and innovative ways. From foraged native wintergreen to oysters plucked from Waquoit Bay, we stepped behind the scenes to get the inside scoop on local chefs’ favorite ingredients and the dishes they inspire.By Jacquelyn Mysliwiec | Photography bY Dan Cutrona
Brandon Baltzley & Laura Higgins
“In a nutshell, we wound up at The 41-70 because Laura was born and raised here and we grew tired of the city grind after working in New York, Chicago and Boston for nine years,” says Baltzley, whose experience ranges from working in Michelin-starred kitchens in New York City and Chicago to opening his own local-centric restaurant in Michigan City, Ind.
Higgins, who graduated at the top of her class at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa, Calif., was the former sous chef at Trenchermen, a notable modern-American restaurant in Chicago. Two years later, she returned to the East Coast where she worked as executive sous chef of Ribelle and where she first met Baltzley. Today, the pair runs the kitchen at The 41-70 (formerly Phusion Grille). Their menu offers a fresh take on local flavors—from Portuguese cuisine to the Cape’s signature seaside clam shacks.
Secret local ingredient: Wintergreen
The story behind the aromatic plant: “It has such a unique flavor and a heavily documented history dating back to indigenous tribes,” explains Baltzley. “It’s a plant specific to New England, and we pick it daily across the street from our home in Waquoit, near Collins Bog. In our opinion, it’s the best tasting berry in all of New England. We use this in both savory and sweet applications.”
Inspired dish: Crudo featuring halibut, cranberry curd made with Collins Bog cranberries, roasted pumpkin and wintergreen.
71 Water St.,
Executive chef and manager since the start, Mikolazyk has lured in a return crowd of diners to Quick’s Hole Tavern, hungry for her inspired dishes that showcase local land and sea finds. Her years at Johnson & Wales gave her the experience and proper techniques to match her already-developed flavor palate. The daughter of a fisherman, she has a particular bias toward the ocean. Today, Mikolazyk honors her roots by offering an array of fresh local seafood at the restaurant, prepared in both classic ways, like tried-and-true fried clams, and more original takes like her spin on a lobster roll.
The story behind the classic local catch: “My dad was a commercial fisherman out of areas in Little Compton and Tiverton, R.I., where I grew up,” says Mikolazyk. “I went out with him in the boat a lot and I used to band the lobsters for him. He had close to 600 lobster traps.”
“My mother was the cook, though, and I was her assistant in the kitchen. Since we always had an abundance of seafood in our house—lobster, cod, scallops—that’s what I came most accustomed to cooking. That’s the reason I always have swordfish, scallops and cod on the menu.”
Featured dish: Seared cod topped with a smoky tomato jam, served with warm potato salad with chorizo and green beans.
29 Railroad Ave.,
“I was the executive chef at The Golf Club in Falmouth for five years before leaving and opening up C Salt,” says Philips, who recently reconnected with the newly branded private golf club and is now running the kitchen at The Golf Course Grille (in addition to his ownership and executive chef role at C Salt.) Philips’ signature style at both locations is a fusion of American, Asian and European flavors.
Secret local ingredient: Oysters
The story behind the briny bivalves: “We’re lucky to have so many great beds in the area—Washburn Island, Snug Harbor, West Falmouth, Cotuit and Wellfleet. They need very little work—you pop them open, put a hint of citrus on top, and serve them up on ice in a nice presentation. But we feature them in all different ways—raw, roasted, fried. Working with oysters has become a passion for me as a chef.”
“When I can, I go pick them up from our oyster purveyors personally. I have even gone out on the boats with some of them. We have a great relationship with the folks at Washburn Island Oysters out of Waquoit Bay in East Falmouth. Owner Todd Stressenger has been nice enough to take all of my chefs, and anyone else who wanted to go, on their harvesting boats. You get an even greater appreciation for the oysters when you get to meet the growers and see the process.”
Featured dish: Choose from a selection of fresh raw oysters and compare and contrast different tastes and finishes. Try them plain, with a yuzu mignonette or with lemon and Bloody Mary cocktail sauce.
75 Davis Straits, Falmouth
Leading the back of the house at Osteria La Civetta since 2010, Pozzati warms the kitchen with his personality and hearty Italian cooking. He’s as authentic as it gets, sharing family food traditions with diners at the eatery. Pozzati grew up in Ferrara, located in northern Italy near Cento, where owners Sara Toselli and Andrea Poggi are from. After working in the kitchen in Italy from age 14 to 26 and completing his culinary education there, Pozzati moved to Barcelona, Spain, where he cooked for four years before settling on Cape Cod, in 2010, to join la famiglia at Osteria La Civetta.
Secret local ingredient: Butternut squash
The story behind the tasty gourd: “There is a traditional dish from our area called cappellacci,” says Pozzati. “It’s basically homemade pasta stuffed with butternut squash. Every single Sunday lunch, since I remember, the cappellacci was always on the table. I used to watch my grandma prepare it when I was little. I remember standing in the chair, stealing the pasta. That’s how I got the passion—it’s in my blood.”
“When I tried the local butternut squash here, it was the closest in taste to the squash I grew up eating in Italy. The owners introduced me to a guy who delivered to the local farmers market each week. He had exactly the flavor I was looking for in the squash that I wanted to use for my tortelloni dish, which is similar to the cappellacci. Now, I get five bushels of squash delivered directly to the restaurant each week when it’s in season and I make enough puree to freeze so I can serve it year-round.”
Featured Dish: Homemade tortelloni stuffed with local butternut squash.
133 Main St.,
Husband-and-wife kitchen team Gates and Kate Rickard received their culinary degrees together, studying and working overseas before returning to the States in Boston, where they landed pastry chef positions, got married and had their first child. From there, they moved to Martha’s Vineyard and opened a bakery with over 60 wholesale accounts for their homemade bread. Once they became a family of five, with three young children, they hopped off the island to find a new home in Falmouth, where they opened Bear in Boots in 2014.
Inspired by their travels to Brussels, London and Rome, Chef Gates and Kate, who is an avid gardener, bring a combination of global and local flavors to the table. Pairing traditional culinary techniques with locally sourced ingredients, including Kate’s greenhouse-grown vegetables and herbs, Gates and the rest of the kitchen staff prepare everything in-house from scratch—from butchering their own meats to making their own pasta, condiments, bread and even ice cream.
Secret local ingredient: Heirloom tomatoes grown in the restaurant’s greenhouse.
The story behind the juicy red fruit: “I purchase my seeds from Baker Creek Seed Co., a family-run business that harvests seeds from across the globe. They’re often not included in the mass production of our food supply. That’s why many of the varieties of fruits and veggies I grow are not known by the average consumer. During the summer months, we include things I have grown in the greenhouse—and the tomatoes are always a huge hit. We have a zebra tomato (more tart), black tomato (intense) and a red tomato (robust), which is the star of a variety of seasonal dishes.”
Featured dish: Caprese salad, featuring several types of tomatoes grown in the restaurant’s greenhouse, homemade cheese, house-cured meats and greenhouse-grown basil.
285 Main St., Falmouth