Saturday, February 17, 2024

Mussel Beach Pumps Up Delray

If you want to show off your tight butt and washboard abs, go to Muscle Beach. If you want to throw down a few dozen plump, succulent bivalves, go toMussel Beach (501 E. Atlantic Ave., 561/921-6464).

This slick new purveyor of Mytilus edulis takes over the downtown space once home to Rotelli, with Rotelli CEO Joseph Bilotti and partner Mark Mezzancello at the helm.

The design, by local architect Steve Siebert, features a tile-backed open kitchen and hardwood floors, with the outside dominated by vivid blue-and-white awnings that shelter a handful of sidewalk tables.

The menu, by chef Aaron Bender, late of Galuppi’s in Pompano Beach, features Prince Edward Island mussels in all their meaty, briny glory, served in 1½-pound portions in big wooden buckets. They come in more than a dozen different guises, from classic Mariniere (shallots, garlic, white wine and butter) and Fra Diavolo (tomatoes, olive oil, basil, garlic, red pepper) to slightly more adventurous preparations like Thai (curry, coconut, lemongrass, garlic, ginger,  jalapenos) and South of the Border (chipotle, chorizo, caramelized onions, squid, lime).

There’s a small roster of other items too, from apps and salads to sammies and burgers to scallops with artichoke risotto and honey-glazed chicken. Prices are modest, with mussels costing from $16 to $18 and most entrees hovering within a dollar or two of $20.

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