Which came first: the restaurant or the lobster roll? That’s the question that seemed to be on everyone’s minds this week, after a series of inflammatory comments by Neptune Oyster Chef Michael Serpa. Unhappy that neighboring restaurant Pauli’s is offering a new 1.5-lb lobster roll dubbed the USS Lobstitution on its menu, Serpa took to Twitter, calling the North End a “joke” and saying that its restaurants were “sad” and lacked creativity and originality.
Now, you’d be sorely mistaken if you think Pauli’s $49.99 lobster roll with a gimmicky nickname is competition to Serpa’s masterful lobster roll at Neptune, and Pauli’s themselves seem to agree, tweeting simply:
— Pauli’s North End (@PaulisBoston) July 8, 2013
Still, after the tweets drew considerable attention from local media, diners and North End residents, Serpa released a statement further defending his comments.
In more than 1,000 words, Serpa expresses his discontent with North End restaurants trying to mimick dishes that have brought him success at Neptune. He writes:
Instead of noticing that a restaurant down the street is busy and popular and knocking off a dish they are known for, maybe think “Why is that place busy?” Because they decided to do something distinct that no one else in the neighborhood was doing and are passionate about what we do at Neptune…
…I was called miserable, elitist, and petty for no apparent reason by someone who doesn’t know me at all? Perhaps a bit snarky I could agree with, but after watching Salem Street have place after place start doing lobster rolls and/or oysters and another spot in the North End revamp itself into an oyster bar very much in the Neptune vein, I can say I’m pretty tired of the lack of originality in what places are doing. If you can’t make it doing what you do, try to do something better than knocking off what someone else is working hard to make work.
Fair enough, but can a lobster roll truly be knocked off? This is New England after all.
For Serpa, though, it may be less about the lobster roll and more about crappy restaurants (and ideas) in general.
Thanks all who support innovative and original ideas (restaurants or otherwise) in The North End and the rest of Boston as well.
— michael serpa (@michaelserpa) July 9, 2013
Is that where Lobstergate 2013 ends? Does Serpa have grounds to stand on, or is he just ranting for no reason? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.