06/16/20 12:41pm

Surf & Turf Rockaway Style at Whit’s End

Soft shell crabs beached atop cheesy grits.

Like many of us I’m struggling with balancing social distancing and the onset of summer fun in these strange times, but that didn’t keep me from taking a ride to Rockaway Beach. My buddy and I stayed off the sand for this trip. Instead, we paid a visit to Whit’s End, a gourmet outpost by the sea that’s been masquerading as a pizzeria, since 2013.

Whitney Aycock, a chef perhaps best known in the press for speaking and cooking his mind, turns out some amazing pies, including a salciccia e vongole that rivals the clam pizza at New Haven’s Zuppardi’s. Instead of that pie, we had a surf and turf of a different sort cobbled together from the non-pizza side of the menu.

First up was “quick ass ceviche,” made with seabass and pineapple among other things. Next, came two soft shell crabs beached atop Georgia stone ground grits bolstered by smoked cheese. The whole affair was topped with bits of salty porchetta, peanuts cooked in brown butter, and chive buds.

Pig butt Bolognese with golden raisins and burrata.

I’ve never had a pasta at Aycock’s restaurant, but I’m sure glad we tried his pig butt Bolognese. There was so much sauce I wasn’t sure where the Bolognese ended and the rigatoni began. Under the pork rich tomato sauce enhanced by golden raisins, oregano, and thin slices of garlic lay several packages filled with flowering chives and ricotta. Just in case there wasn’t enough cheese, a white dollop of burrata perched atop the red landscape.

It was an incredibly satisfying meal, one that would have been best followed by a long stroll and a nap on the beach, and best eaten more slowly. It left me longing for normalcy, but gave me hope for better times and a summer tan.

Whit’s End, 97-02 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Far Rockaway, 718- 945-4100

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