PORTSMOUTH(NH): Francesca Fernald has been cooking in the kitchen at Geno’s Chowder and Sandwich Shop for decades, and she treats everybody like family – @AceFoodNews


#AceFoodNews – July.22: Phantom Gourmet: Geno’s Chowder & Sandwich Shop In Portsmouth

It happens to be home – literally the house she grew up in. Back in 1965 her mom converted their home into a spot the locals would frequent for coffee and conversation.

Now you’ll always find Francesca stirring, scooping, stuffing and slicing from behind the counter of this Portsmouth, New Hampshire institution.

“I’m kind of a one person show. I’ve got to see what’s going on, and it allows me to wave over the counter and say hi to people. I enjoy their company and I like to see them coming.”

Located on the back channel of the Piscataqua River, this local favorite has a deck for dining alfresco and a cozy interior that makes you feel like you’re at home.

“It’s very casual. I like to keep the old New England feel,” Francesca said. “It’s almost like going to a general store. You come in; you get a bite to eat; you get the gossip of the town; just good company and comradery, and good food.”

So Phantom settled into the scene in search of THE PERFECT MEAL.

A lobster roll at Geno’s is a must. Since Francesca’s dad was a lifelong commercial fisherman, this is a sandwich her family has been shucking and stuffing for generations.

“We serve three sizes of lobster rolls. I make them all to order,” Francesca explained. “I don’t mix the mayonnaise ahead. You could have it plain; you could have it with mayonnaise; you could have it with butter you could have both. Pretty much any way you like it.”

Jumbo Lobster Roll at Geno's Chowder and Sandwich Shop (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

Jumbo Lobster Roll at Geno’s Chowder and Sandwich Shop (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“They all come in the same toasted hot dog bun. We put it on the grill, toast it up. You get a nice leaf of lettuce on there. The small lobster roll is two ounces of lobster meat. The middle one is three and a half ounces of lobster meat, and then the jumbo one is five and a half ounces of lobster meat.”

For the ultimate Geno’s experience, order the special, which features a cup of one of their chowders served alongside the Jumbo Lobster roll. The famous chowders are all made according to old family recipes, so ordering at least a cup is definitely a requirement.

“These are New England chowders. They’re the same recipes my mom had when she started. They’re brothy and they’re thin. There’s no thickener in them,” Francesca described.

And there’s no big commitment, because Francesca lets you sample them all before you select.

Lobster Stew at Geno's Chowder and Sandwich Shop (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

Lobster Stew at Geno’s Chowder and Sandwich Shop (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

After you’ve sampled, you may want a good old Clam Chowder made with fresh shucked clams, or the Fish Chowder loaded up with cod and haddock plucked from the waters outside and spiked with potatoes and onions. There’s an Oyster Stew made with whole oysters, milk and butter, and a luxurious Lobster Stew.

“There’s something magical about garlic and butter and white wine and shallots to start something off,” Francesca said. “Then you add lobster meat to it, and it’s done.”

Beyond that, the menu offers everything from Stuffed Quahogs for less than $2, to Salmon Burgers and Crabmeat Salad. But don’t fill up on too much, because Francesca’s homemade desserts are not to be missed. There’s the dense and decadent Raspberry Blackout Brownies, or the moist Carrot Cake smothered with a cream cheese frosting. But nothing beats Francesca’s tried and true recipe for Blueberry Pie.

Blueberry Pie at Geno's Chowder and Sandwich Shop (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

Blueberry Pie at Geno’s Chowder and Sandwich Shop (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

A Jumbo Lobster Roll, the Lobster Stew, and a slice of Blueberry Pie make for the PERFECT MEAL at Geno’s Chowder & Sandwich Shop.

You can find Geno’s at 177 Mechanic Street in Portsmouth, and online at genoschowder.com.

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