Noca vs. Chestnut Fine Foods & Provisions: Lobster Roll Rumble
Alissa Irei The lobster roll at Noca.
Normal people eat on vacation. Around here, we go on vacation to eat. And while we love our desert home, we're not above booking a ticket to the coast just to get our hands on some decent seafood. The good news: With a handful of Valley menus offering fresh lobster rolls, we can now get shellfish without stepping foot on a plane. We threw a couple of local rolls in the ring to see which is the better bet.
In This Corner: Noca
The Setup: This Biltmore restaurant at 32nd Street and Camelback Road began serving dinner again in February, after 22-year-old executive chef Adam Brown took the helm. (Noca halted dinner service last year after bidding farewell to former executive chef Claudio Urciuoli.) The lobster roll is available only on Wednesday nights.
The Good: In the past, the Noca lobster roll has featured chopped lobster tossed in aioli and celery root, but on the night we went, the new chef was debuting a totally fresh twist on an old favorite -- lucky us. Brown's "lobster club" paired succulent, béarnaise-drenched lobster meat with hunks of salty, super-tender pork belly -- an unlikely marriage, perhaps, but a happy one. The lettuce and marinated tomatoes were flavorful and crisp and the buttery bread was browned to crunchy perfection.
The Bad: The sandwich was packed with choice lobster, but the roll itself was on the small side, especially compared to ones you'll find in the Northeast.