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Why The CabbyShack in Plymouth, Massachusetts Will Make You Love Waterfront Dining in New England

Outdoor water views at the CabbyShack, restaurant Plymouth, Mass.

Outdoor dining at The Cabby Shack. Photo source: CabbyShack web site.

Story and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz. Article created on 12/10/17.

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Something feels so right about The CabbyShack in Plymouth, Mass., and it goes far beyond the outstanding seafood, drinks selection, festive atmosphere, and outdoor and indoor seating water views.

In one corner of the nautical-theme restaurant with a fun, tropical island theme, long-time employee Ali Reynolds and her daughter Jen wrap gifts, making one wonder if the restaurant is also a community goodwill center.  In a sense, it is as the gifts are going towards an event a local church to support local foster children.

A woman and her young children arrive at the restaurant and immediately are welcomed with hugs from CabbyShack owner Cabby Brini and several employees. The scene looks like long-lost families reconnecting with emotion, smiles and local conversation anchoring this beautiful moment that warms up the cold December day. Turns out the woman -- Lindsey Ricardo -- worked at The CabbyShack during her school years. That waitressing job stuck in Ricardo's mind as a special experience and she couldn't wait to come back to say "Hello."

"I worked there starting in high school and loved it," said Ricardo. "We were like family.  Cabby was like a father figure to me. And the food was delicious!"

Cabby Brini shares a warm moment with current and former staff at The CabbyShack in Plymouth Harbor, Mass.
CabbyShack owner Cabby Brini with current and former employees (not including the kids, of course!).

"It's great working for Cabby," said Ali. "He cares so much about everyone and could probably do every job in the building. He worked those jobs at one time or another, so he can identify with each employee. So many people have worked here and became close. I wish we had started a yearbook because there have been so many connections. Cabby has created something special here."

Brini started from scratch The CabbyShack's lovable mix of a surprisingly creative menu and a tropical-island-style party atmosphere right by the water at scenic, historic Plymouth Harbor. The delicious food, ice cold beer and creative drinks selection, a down-to-earth efficient local staff that you'd typically find in a diner, an authentic sense of community and the live entertainment are just part of the fabric that makes The CabbyShack so special. 

Cabby, however, has actually accomplished something so much more important than just a restaurant by ultimately creating his own life from scratch.

Without his personal drive and love of Plymouth and its people, CabbyShack would not be here and Cabby might have chosen a path in life far less meaningful. It's like that classic line from the 1946 Frank Capra movie classic, "It's a Wonderful Life": "Each man's life touches so many other lives."

Cabby grew up in Plymouth as one of seven children raised by a hard working single mom. A 1986 Plymouth-Carver High School graduate, Cabby initially found outlets as a standout athlete in football, basketball and baseball and, at 13, becoming employed at restaurants where he pretty much eventually worked virtually every job possible. Cabby's industrious nature, at a young age, kept him focused and out of trouble. He attended UMass Amherst in Amherst, Mass., but soon found himself at a crossroads, however.

"I realized I was not a great student," said Brini. "I needed to do something with my life and working in restaurants gave me that direction."

He worked primarily at the Colonial Restaurant and Run of the Mill Tavern in Plymouth (both closed) before becoming a partner at Cornerstone's Pub & Grill in Carver from 1998 to 2002.

Being magnetized to the sea and the restaurant industry brought Cabby to the former Souza's Fish Market at Plymouth Harbor where he had a vision seemingly as expansive as the sea: renovate the building with large additions and change the concept, making it a full-service, waterfront restaurant. After extensive work, CabbyShack opened in 2003 with, at first, some resistance from locals opposing the real palm trees and bright colors, but, ultimately, Cabby found himself with a receptive local and tourist base.

Today, CabbyShack employs 263 employees and averages about 10,000 customers a week while making about 500 gallons a week of its signature New England clam chowder, or "Clam Chowdah," as they call it. That clam chowder is regarded as one of the best in New England -- chock full of clams with an ultra-thick, perfectly-seasoned base within a bread bowl. In the best sense, It tastes unlike any other clam chowder we've tried in New England. Celebrity chef Guy Fieri, of The Food Network, agrees, calling the CabbyShack clam chowder one of his favorites on an episode of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives." The Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate - Guilty Pleasures" also featured The CabbyShack's Clam Chowdah, stating,"It is awesome...
What sets them apart is they make it (fresh) every day."

New England clam chowder from The CabbyShack in Plymouth, Mass.
Cabby's "World Famous Clam Chowdah" is to die for -- delicious!

In addition to the delicious chowder, the pound-and-a quarter boiled lobster, the three-and-a-half pound Big Man's Lobster, huge lobster rolls on buttered rolls, and the amazing Captain's Platter with haddock, whole belly clams, scallops. shrimp, onion rings and French fries all serve as outstanding introductions to the greatness of CabbyShack's food selections...

Lobster at The CabbyShack in Plymouth MA
Seafood and drinks at The CabbyShack. Photo source: CabbyShack web site.

Captain's fried seafood platter at the CabbyShack in Plymouth, Mass.
Captain's Platter from The CabbyShack.

Going far beyond being just a likable tourist destination, The CabbyShack clearly goes the extra mile to create comfort foods that exceed the routine and pedestrian. Local Chef Rob Bono, who once earned a James Beard Foundation scholarship to attend culinary school in Norway, arrived at The CabbyShack about three years ago, and helped make an already fine menu that much better.

"He is a great chef without the ego," said Cabby. "We met through a mutual friend, and everything kind of clicked. I am so glad he is here."

Brini and Bono come across like a culinary version of Lennon and McCartney by pushing the limits of its restaurant genre, being creative by changing the menu three times a year, and sometimes disagreeing until something good -- in the form of yummy food -- comes out of those conflicts. In the long run, Cabby and Bono make sure that all walks of life with varied preferences in food, are all happy with the menu selections. While much of the seafood does come right off the boat in nearby New Bedford, Mass., -- and brought in to The CabbyShack seven days a week -- Brini and Bono have a dedication to creating all types of food fresh and flavorful.

"You don't have to like seafood to enjoy the CabbyShack," said Cabby. "We have steaks, pasta, flatbreads, pizza, just about everything. We do it all well. Not just the seafood."

The braised boneless short ribs has a mouthwatering effect with the tender meat braised a whole day and served in a maderia demi glaze. It is the best short rib dish I have ever tasted, and that includes some well-regarded restaurants in the Boston area.

Braised boneless short ribs with asparagus and real mashed potatoes from The CabbyShack in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Delicious!
Braised boneless short ribs from The CabbyShack.

Chef Bono's creative flair literally jumps off many of the plates, including the unusual but truly delicious banana leaf haddock. This haddock filet in banana leaf and coconut butter is served with lemongrass shrimp, long grain rice and an edamame saute.

Banana leaf haddock with coconut butter, lemongradd shrimp, long grain rice and an edamame saute from The CabbyShack in Plymouth, Massachusetts.. Wow!
Banana leaf haddock from The CabbyShack.

One of the most pleasant surprises at The CabbyShack: the flatbread and bar-style pizzas. The grilled flatbread pizza has that thin crispy crust, and the right mix of cheese, tomato and lighter toppings that add up to something you'd taste at the best flatbread restaurant destinations. Case-in-point: this wonderful Shrimp Scampi flatbread with sauteed shrimp, parmesan, spinach, tomato, fresh mozzarella and garlic spread.

From the CabbyShack in Plymouth MA; flatbread pizza with sauteed shrimp, parmesan, spinach, tomato, fresh mozzarella and garlic spread.
Shrimp Scampi flatbread.

A little secret about CabbyShack's bar-style pizza that virtually no one know about: The recipe has connections to the legendary Lynwood Cafe in Randolph, Mass. For those of you not familiar with the Lynwood, this famous, hole-in-the-wall pizza joint has been around since 1949 and, along with places like Santarpio's (Boston), Regina Pizzeria (Boston), the Venus Cafe (Whitman) and Town Spa (Stoughton), is generally regarded as having some of the best pizza in the Boston area.

"I learned about the recipe from a former employee at the Lynwood," said Cabby. "I was pumping gas and started a conversation with someone there, who, it turns out worked at the Lynwood. I worked with him the create that taste people know at the Lynwood."

Cabby and company, however, have put a twist on the traditional bar-style pizza with creations of their own. The Clam Bake Pizza is topped with clam chowder, cheese and bacon. The CabbyShack Special features diced tomatoes, bacon and feta cheese. The "Nachyo" pizza applies a corn tortilla, refried beans, beef chili and cheddar cheese to a hand=stretched pizza dough topped with shredded lettuce, tomato salsa and sour cream. The Applewood bacon and scallop is a white pizza with cheddar cheese, Applewood bacon, sweet scallops, scallion and Aioli. If not into specialty pizzas, you can build your own with around 30 topping options.

Viewing the menu reveals many other one-of-a-kind dishes and comfort food classics. On one hand, there's mac and cheese, burgers, fried calamari (fabulous!), stuffed quahogs, crab cakes, boneless chicken tenders, paninis and salads. On the other, there's a stuffed pretzel with bacon, smoked mozzarella and jalapenos, habanero lime mesquite chicken thighs, and a tremendous boursin chicken BLT. This masterpiece features tender grilled chicken, Applewood bacon, garlic aioli, boursin, arugula, tomato and shaved onions on a buttery, crusty Italian-style bread.

From The CabbyShack in Plymouth, Mass.: Boursin chicken BLT with grilled chicken, applewood bacon, garlic aioli, boursin, arugula, toamto and shaved onion.
Boursin chicken BLT from The Cabbyshack.

The drinks list stands as a main attraction, also, including many creatively-made cocktails that wouldn't seem out of place at a tiki bar, 18 draft beers and 11 craft beers.

On its own, the food would be enough to make a visit to The CabbyShack worthwhile.  The fact that CabbyShack is a waterfront restaurant with outdoor seating -- and located in one of New England's greatest travel destinations -- puts the overall experience over the top. The rooftop deck seating offers commanding views of Plymouth Harbor, while the indoor seating in the dining room and bar features more water views (editor's note: the outdoor deck water views are superior) and a light and breezy feel that perfectly combines a party atmosphere that is also family-friendly. In the summer, there's even a sand area with entertainment, and plenty of fun and games (like the Limbo, tug of war, etc.)!

"It feels like you are on vacation here," said Cabby. "I have always enjoyed places like Aruba and wanted to bring that kind of atmosphere to The CabbyShack."

Dining room and bar at the lively, fun CabbyShack restaurant in Plymouth MA.
Dining room and bar at The CabbyShack.

 Cabby is a hometown-boy-made-good by sticking close to his working class and geographical roots -- very close. He said, half jokingly, that it virtually "tore him apart" when he commuted to his job at Cornerstone's just minutes away in Carver. The hard work and resolve that has saturated his heart, mind and soul throughout his blessed life translates well to a positive influence on his children, Niko, 14, and Enzo, 12, who are thriving academically in school. A Plymouth Hall of Fame Class of 2015 inductee who was once named a Citizen of the year at the Plymouth Hometown Thanksgiving Parade, Cabby has humbly channeled his successful business and the accolades to giving back at every chance to those in need.

"There's no feeling like working in your hometown and giving back," said Cabby.

For fellow neighbors and CabbyShack staff, Cabby is like family. And, fortunately, for locals and travelers looking for a restaurant that serves fabulous seafood and beyond at a lively, family-friendly waterfront location, you'd be hard-pressed to find a place as good and with such broad appeal in New England as The CabbyShack.

CabbyShack is located at 30 Town Wharf, Plymouth MA. Tel. 508-746-5354. Web site: http://www.cabbyshack.com. Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook/thecabbyshack. The CabbyShack is open year-round.

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Explore Massachusetts travel! Read the Massachusetts Town Greens book -- Discover New England's first travel attractions: town commons. Includes chapters on Plymouth and nearby Cohasset, Whitman, East Bridgewater, Bridgewater and Falmouth!


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