MATUNUCK OYSTER BAR
Perry Raso grew to love shellfish as a boy in Rhode Island. He made pin money digging clams. He too eventually ended up at URI and received his graduate degree majoring in aquaculture and pathology science. He started farming ten years after Bob did and profited from Bob’s early pioneering experiences. Perry leased 1.3 acres of Potter Pond in 2002 and marketed his oysters at farmer’s markets around the State. His oysters were given the brand name “Matunuck Oysters.” The name came from the Narragansett Indian word for “look out.”
The dock that Perry used to load his oyster boat was on the banks of a property near his farm. When the building tenant for the property closed his business, Perry had a chance to realize his own vision: “simple food, fairly priced, fresh products, making sure everybody leaves happy.” He moved in and added deck so that people could enjoy the view outside while they enjoyed the oysters – fresh from a two minute boat ride to the pond farm. Customers can also take a boat ride and visit the nearby farm. The Matunuck Oyster Bar was born. Boom…Perry soon had a raging success n his hands.
The restaurant was so popular Perry hired someone to manage the farm so he could concentrate his efforts on the restaurant. He also hired two chefs to really hone in on the mastery of preparing seafood of all sorts – as well a the shellfish. Then he hired a restaurant manager and enlarged the restaurant. Matunuck is open every day. They also serve the produce of the other local Rhode Island oysters. They are shuckin’ maybe 1000 oysters a day, even in the dead of Winter, when I visited.
If you have been to Matunuck Oyster Bar, you have met Perry. He visits every table to make sure customers are satisfied with what they consume. He shakes their hand. He thanks them for their patronage. As a former student of Mike Rice, he is also a politician in his own way – in a good way.
Perry is also true to his Rhode Island roots as a young boy. He wants you to taste the local clams as well as the oysters. He plants a garden and raises his own seasonal veggies. Like Bob, he has created a model that other oyster farmers can choose to follow. There is no shorter distance from farm to plate than the road his oysters follow. But the key is they are pristine little gems that taste wonderful. It all makes powerful economic sense.
As if to cement the marriage to his education and his past, Perry also occasionally offers Moonstone oysters – from the farm that Bob originally founded. Bob frequently dines in the restaurant and loves to shuck oysters at the bar when things get busy.
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