Seafood that's worth a jaunt
by Johnette Rodriguez
629 Succotash Road, East Matunuck, 789-2864
Open daily, 2-10 p.m.
Major credit cards
Sidewalk access, bathrooms not accessible
Summertime visitors come to South County for the surf and the sand, but they
stick around for a good cup o' chowdah, a few "stuffies" and a cold beer at the
end of the day. A newcomer to the seafood scene, Fish Stories offers all three
and much, much more.
Just up the road from East Matunuck State Beach, Fish Stories is perched on
the edge of Potter Pond, with glorious views of the water and wildlife from the
dining room's back tables. On a recent outing with friends, we took in the
whole range of summer life at the shore: kids scrambling down the bank to cast
fishing lines; a guy in a wet suit boarding his Jet-ski; a graceful white egret
walking along the rocks where the sun was starting to sink.
The stories unfolding outside our window, along with new stories from our
out-of-town friends, made it hard for us to focus on the menu. But when we did,
we were pleased to see far more than fish and chips. In fact, there is no fish
and chips at Fish Stories, nor fried seafood of any kind. The seafood is either
grilled (with a choice of four marinades), baked (with or without stuffing) or
sauteed (in white or red sauces).
Reading the menu more closely, we quickly detected the Portuguese and Italian
influences in Fish Stories' kitchen: snail salad marinated in garlic, oil and
vinegar; olives and peppers simmered in the sauces; even eggplant parmesan or
meatballs over linguine for those who don't want seafood. We started off with
clams zuppa ($5.95), littlenecks in red or white sauce (we chose white), and
sauteed calamari ($5.95). The littlenecks were tasty, with plenty of garlic in
the sauce (great for dipping our bread), but our attention was quickly diverted
by the deliciously tender squid rings in a thick tomatoey sauce. This, too, had
plenty of garlic, along with hot pepper rings and black olives.
There were varying appetites around the table, so two of our party chose from
the salad column: grilled tuna salad ($8.95) and jerk shrimp salad ($9.95). The
latter featured six jumbo shrimp grilled with jerk spices, served over fresh
mesclun greens. Bill enjoyed the shrimp and salad, and we all had a nibble of
our friend's tuna -- grilled and then chilled and dressed with a perky lemon
I was in a try-everything mood, and the seafood cioppino ($12.95), with clams,
mussels, scallops and shrimp, offered me that opportunity. I was somewhat
anxious about the linguine and red sauce, because of my ineptness at swirling
linguine into bite-sized portions without splattering myself with sauce, but I
persevered, with the aid of strategically positioned extra napkins.
The sauce was tasty, with a hot pepper nip to it, and the scallops were cooked
just right. The clams, mussels and shrimp, however, seemed a little over-cooked
to my taste.
The fourth member of our party, moving as far away as possible from hot spices
and/or garlic, chose stuffed flounder ($10.95). He liked the chunks of real
crabmeat in the stuffing and the creamy lobster sauce on top. But unfortunately
for him (a windfall for the rest of us), his red bliss potato slices were
pan-fried with garlic. He did like his mixed summer vegetables, zucchini and
Most desserts at Fish Stories are not house-made, so we opted for the one that
was: strawberry shortcake ($4.50). The pound-cake under the strawberries was
delicious, and the strawberries had been marinated in balsamic vinegar, which
mysteriously brought out their sweetness. An unusual and thoroughly successful
variation on this dessert.
Despite its name, Fish Stories also offers three chicken dishes; a porterhouse
steak; a selection of burgers; a veggie pocket; meatball or sausage "grindas"
and grilled Saugys. There are a dozen wines, a fistful of beers and a few
unusual beverages, such as hard lemonade and "twisted tea."
The dining room at Fish Stories is filled with light from the many windows on
two sides, the light blue decor makes you feel as if you're snorkeling
underwater and our waitress was as cheerful as the walls. The Asquino family,
who for years owned a popular East Providence restaurant called Asquino's, has
put its best foot forward in South County. Fish Stories is bound to generate
some stories of its own.