Full disclosure: the entry discussing Sanette Groenewald’s Karoo Kafe will be inherently biased, because it’s consistently been among our favorite restaurants here since it opened in 2002. (That’s not the editorial “us”; that’s me and my husband Scott.) How often in any American town can you get casual South African food prepared by a chef who had her own restaurant in Cape Town for two years? And get it at reasonable prices, in an inviting and imaginative little dining room, with friendly, pleasant service? More pictures and history»
Angels’ Landing (West buildings) | Café Dinara
Three buildings spill down to the waterfront from behind 353 Commercial Street. There is a little commercial unit on the square that has seen one coffee shop open after another in recent years. In this picture, taken in 2008, it was Cicchetti’s Espresso Bar, proferring “coffees and tiny nibbles.” That didn’t last long. By 2010, it was Mayorga’s Coffee Shop. Also gone. As of 2011, it was the Café Dinara. More pictures and history»
The Angela of Angel’s Landing was no angel — certainly not in the eyes of America’s photojournalists or its political left wing. She was Angela Calomiris (1916-1995), the daughter of Greek immigrants and a member of the celebrated Photo League in New York City. On 26 April 1949, she stunned her colleagues when she appeared at the trial of 11 Communists accused of plotting to overthrow the government and disclosed that she’d been an undercover agent of the F.B.I. since 1942. More pictures and history»
The nature of this charming cul-de-sac inspired the name of the Mews Restaurant and Café, which opened here in 1961 as the Inn at the Mews and remained until 1993. It then moved to 429 Commercial Street while keeping its name, which is now somewhat hard to understand at first glance since the current restaurant property looks nothing like a mews. The restaurant was established by Nicholas “Nicky” Wells (d 1985), a real estate developer, and his wife, the artist Ray Martan Wells (1908-2011). They are the namesakes of Nicky’s Park and of the Ray and Nicky Wells Conservation Area. More pictures and history»
Pepe’s Wharf may be the loveliest and most inviting of all of Provincetown’s little waterside shopping and dining enclaves — the Mews, Angels’ Landing, Designers’ Dock — thanks to its entrance portal, multiple levels, lush plantings and numerous corners, around which the passageway down to the restaurant and the beach keeps unfolding. It was developed in 1966 by Nils W. Berg (d 1994) and Eva (Kaye) Berg (1920-2009), just four years after Nicholas and Ray Wells had developed the Mews, at 359 Commercial Street. And the property is still in the hands of the Berg family, almost a half century later. “Pepe,” incidentally, seems to have been the nickname of the Bergs’ son Nils (b ±1955). More pictures and history»
No offense intended to the popular Wired Puppy coffee house, but the most interesting view of 379 Commercial Street is from the beach side, where a long, low former fish house can be seen (pictured above). Leno P. Dutra, who had a fueling station nearby at 359R Commercial Street, ran his taxi service from this address in the 1930s. In the mid 1950s, it was an Italian restaurant known as Sorrento. Perhaps not enough customers returned to Sorrento because, by the early 1960s, it had become La Cucina del Re (the King’s Kitchen). More pictures and history»
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The larger, harborside building on this property was once the Vinton Studios. Opened in 1913, these “were the first studios for general rent in Provincetown,” Ross Moffett wrote in Art in Narrow Streets (1964). They were also the home of two very significant figures on the Provincetown cultural scene: Mary Grove Bacon Bicknell (d 1968), organizer of the Wharf Players Theater at 83 Commercial Street (obituary in the Scrapbooks of Althea Boxell), and her husband, William Harry Warren Bicknell (1860-1947), a noted etcher who was — The Advocate said astutely — “especially noteworthy for his fluent lines, his rare use of white spaces and his economy of unessential detail.” (Biographical sketch at Gallery Ehva.) More pictures and history»
“Captain Lavender’s Deck” at the Waterford is not some sort of coy code to entice gay patrons. No, this property once was home to Captain Lavender — in fact, the Captains Lavender: Robert M. Lavender (1847-1928) and Stephen S. Lavender (1852-1910), who appears to have been Robert’s younger uncle. (Stephen’s much older brother, Capt. Joseph A. Lavender, was Robert’s father. Joseph was lost at sea in 1870.) The family came from Nova Scotia, as did Robert’s wife, Louisa J. (1847-1920), herself a remarkable woman. More pictures and history»
Technically, 392 Commercial Street doesn’t exist any longer. It’s part of a unified parcel with 386 Commercial Street. But it is such a distinctively individual building — as it was originally — that it gets its own entry; at least enough of one to note that it served as an adjunct to the Gray Inn, run from 1931 to 1946 by David L. Allen, then after 1946 by Jere Snader. It has also played an annex role for the successors to Gray, including the Ocean’s Inn, the Commons and the Waterford. Other commercial tenants included Polly’s Powder Puff in the late 1930s.
In what seems to be a perfect spot for a cozy restaurant with a great view, several establishments have come and gone in recent decades. In 1979, Zoltan and Juliet Gluck, and their son, David, opened a restaurant here. Gluck’s gallery and home was across the street at 398 Commercial. Dodie’s Diner — “full of family photos, old toys, 1950s bric-a-brac,” The Boston Globe said approvingly — opened in 1993. It was followed by the Little Fluke Café, which was in business for five years. Devon Ruesch, who was a partner in the Little Fluke, opened the current restaurant in May 2007.
It seems sometimes that the owners of just about every stately Provincetown house claim it was built for a whaling captain. In the case of 404 Commercial Street, a monumental Greek Revival structure that would not look wholly out of place in Charleston or Savannah, the claim is not hard to believe. Diners have known it as the Southern Mansion, Landmark, Chester, Bistro 404 and Dalla Cucina. More pictures and history»
The Mews has, for many years, been one of Provincetown’s grown-up restaurants. Established in 1961 by Nicholas “Nicky” Wells and Ray Martan Wells at 359 Commercial Street, it is now under the general management of Ron Robin and has been here since 1993. It occupies a site that has been a haven of hospitality for nearly 80 years. Lucille (Crawley) Donahue’s Everbreeze Club (or Everbreeze Restaurant, or both), which operated here from 1935 to 1980, was — in its early days — a self-contained little summer resort: “Swim, breakfast, lunch, play and tea at the Everbreeze,” said a 1937 ad. “Free tea readings every afternoon. Attractive bath houses with showers. Suits rented. Games and beach chairs at your disposal.” More history and pictures»
The Flagship, with its renowned and utterly improbable dory bar, is one of those cherished institutions that’s missed even by people who never knew it. Built and used at first by the artist E. Ambrose Webster (pictured at left) as an instructional studio, it was for many years the place to dine and drink in the East End. Its history is interwoven with that of the Beachcombers next door, at 465A Commercial. Part pier shed, part foundry, part wharf, part studio, it’s hard to tell where the Flagship leaves off and where the Beachcombers begin. For a time in the 1930s, the Flagship catered the Beachcomber dinners, making the distinction between them even tougher to discern. But the spirit of the Flagship endures, though it’s a private home now. And as long as there’s a dory bar in place, there will always be a Flagship.
Dining at Fanizzi’s, which you can do year-round, feels very much like dining at sea. Without the constant rolling. At high tide, the main room seems to be surrounded by water. Though the windows are ample, the dimensions of the space are compact; as snugly efficient as if constructed for seaworthiness. And as the restaurant’s Web site reminds visitors, storms can arise that make the location seem all too nautical. A location as good as this — in what was almost certainly the old sail loft at Whorf’s Wharf — had attracted restaurateurs for years before Paul B. Fanizzi bought it in 2001. More pictures and history»
Capt. Warren Crawley, skipper of the trapboat Harbor Bar II, and his wife, Priscilla Crawley, operated Priscilla’s Restaurant and Snack Bar on the town line in the 1950s. David L. Mayo recalled Mrs. Crawley in this delightful anecdote he shared with me in 2012: “Our handyman at East Harbor Cottages, Tech Slade, used to bring me here for lunch as a treat now and again. Priscilla was quite a large woman who always wore a huge housedress and had interesting warts on her face. She always shocked me when passing me with my dessert ice cream cone, licking the perimeter carefully before handing it to me. Tech never reported that activity to my mother.” More history»
It is something of a wonder that Napi’s is “only” approaching its 40th anniversary, in 2015, since it’s one of those institutions so interwoven with town life that it would be hard to imagine Provincetown without it. And like the best such institutions, Napi’s is sui generis — it would be hard to imagine this restaurant anywhere else; not with its wildly sculptural brick wall by Conrad Malicoat and its cold-air duct embellished with an Arctic scene by Jackson Lambert. Napi’s is the product of a personal vision that’s imaginative, free-flowing, aesthetic, resourceful, somewhat ornery, more than a little bit eccentric and deeply rooted in the town. The impresario in this case is the peppery, garrulous Anton “Napi” Van Dereck Haunstrup (b 1932), pictured here, who runs the restaurant with his wife, Helen (Schmidt) Van Dereck Haunstrup (b 1940). More pictures and history»
On Valentine’s Day 2013, Provincetown lost part of its heart with the death, at 91, of Ciriaco G. “Ciro” Cozzi (b 1921), one of the leading figures in the art colony’s post-war renaissance. It was not his paintings that placed him in the pantheon. It was the Italian restaurant that he and Salvatore Del Deo opened in 1954 in a house on Kiley Court. Cozzi bought the building in 1953 because — with three small children in tow — he couldn’t find anyone who’d rent to him. His new property came with a dirt-floor cellar that cried out for a money-generating use. So Ciro & Sal’s was born, as an informal dining spot for fishermen and artists. In time, it became the place to see and be seen. Norman Mailer, for instance, was a longtime regular. “Some of the best Italian cooking I’ve enjoyed,” he said in 1987, “hearty, traditional and yet full of the surprises of truly rare dishes.” And that was Cozzi’s goal, said Matt Tudor, a chef who trained under him and recalled Cozzi declaring: “Every dish should be saltimbocca — jump into the mouth.” More pictures and history»
Grand Central Café
Just about anywhere else in town, this long-lived establishment (b 1968) would stand out plainly, with its three gilded dolphins gamboling over the elegant carved guilloche front door. But everything on this tiny street plays second fiddle to the A-House, 4-6 Masonic Place. At least the owner and manager of the Grand Central, April Cabral-Pitzner, can comfort herself in the fact that she also owns the A-House. In the mid-’70s, at the height of the Fern Bar era in America dining, the Grand Central’s décor was praised as “warm and romantic, featuring slate floor, hand-hewn beams and rough plaster, combined with local handicrafts.” • Historic District Survey • Assessor’s Online Database ¶ Posted 2013-03-15
Many things come to restaurateurs’ lips when their patrons tell them they can’t afford to pay. Most, however, do not say, “Damn it to hell, you don’t need any money to eat in my place.” But that is just what Nellie Marshall Barnes (±1874-1937) told the starving young artists who were among her favorite customers, as were fishermen and boatmen. Though her restaurant and boarding house was a bit of a hike from the piers, it was just a tumble out of the lumber loft for the artists who were working in their studios at F. A. Days & Sons, 24 Pearl Street, or a quick scramble through a couple of back yards — at least one with a hen house — for those at 4 Brewster Street. “She thought artists were wonderful and Charles Hawthorne was god,” Nat Halper wrote for The Provincetown Advocate in 1952. Hawthorne returned the favor by painting Barnes’s portrait in 1919, shown at left in a poor newspaper reproduction. (It is in the collection of the University of Minnesota.) More pictures and history»
Nelson’s (43 Race Point Road Condominium)
That’s not formally the name of this commercial complex on the way to the Back Shore, but it’s a safe bet that more people know it as Nelson’s than as 43 Race Point Road, thanks to the longtime presence of the Nelson family and their riding stable and school, bicycle shop, bait and tackle shop and market.
Clifton A. Nelson (d 1982) and his wife, Katharine Nelson, bought a large tract, including the stable, in 1948. Fifteen years later, operating as Nelsons Riding Stable, they began offering trail rides out into the dunes. They were joined in the business by their daughter, Charlotte (Nelson) Rogel. Though Nelson’s Bait and Tackle is now owned and run by Richard B. Wood, it has kept the family name, as well as the inviting feel of a shop from generations ago, where bright wooden lures can still be found amid more up-to-date equipment and yellowing photos prove fish tales true. A dense little grove of fishing rods stands in the middle.
This guilty pleasure stand may have a transient look to it, but in fact it’s one of the town’s “legacy” dining spots, going on 40 years in 2013. Why, Mojo’s has been around longer even than Napi’s. It has been called a hot dog stand, a clam shack and a fry joint. The single-spaced, double-column, two-page menu runs to well over 100 items, but I usually stop at the jalapeño fries, which can sustain me for about 15 hours without need of another meal. More pictures and history
Philip N. “Phil” Baiona (Bayon) must have paged through The Provincetown Advocate of 5 June 1952 with a mix of triumph and terror. Inside, the paper was reporting the “huge success” of opening night at the Weathering Heights Club, where Baiona — proprietor of the 12 Carver Street bar in Boston — was beginning his second season as manager, owner and chief attraction. The top story on the front page, however, sounded an ominous note: “Selectmen Clamp Down on Gay Spots With New Regulations to Curb Evils.” That crusade — to rid the town of homosexuals — would color almost every year of Baiona’s tenure at Weathering Heights, through the 1960s. Baiona turned out to be too much, too soon for the fundamentally conservative folk of Provincetown, and Weathering Heights was made a scapegoat of the people’s inchoate fears that their values and their livelihoods were under simultaneous assault by a bunch of “fairies” from Boston and New York. More pictures and history»
Not your typical commercial real-estate synergy: an epicurean diner and an appliance sales and service center. But this is Provincetown, where some of the unlikeliest bedfellows can be found. “Chach” is the nickname of Viola Donyle Briseno (b 1960), pictured here, who opened this restaurant in 2005 with Sharon L. Bowes (b 1959) in a space that was once the renowned Donut Shop. The property has been owned since 1984 by Michael S. Trovato (b 1955), who is the “Son” in “Joe & Son,” which also operates out of Wellfleet. The “Joe” is Joseph Trovato (b ±1924), a veteran of Land’s End Marine Supply, who established his own appliance servicing business in 1961. Michael bought this parcel in 1984 from the Costa family, operators of the Provincetown Golf Range, 73-89 Shank Painter Road. More pictures and history»
What you call this drive-in speaks to how long you’ve known Provincetown. If you think of it as Mac’s Market — an arm of Mac and Alex Hay’s ever-growing seafood empire — welcome, newcomer. If you think of it as Townsend’s — the short-lived second act of Chris Townsend’s well-loved Fishermen’s Wharf shack — you’ve been around. If you think of it as Clem & Ursie’s — a wildly popular spot run by Clem and Deb Silva — you’re approaching veteran status. But if you think of it as Dairy Land — Matt Costa’s roadside joint so memorably portrayed by Joel Meyerowitz — you’re a native. Or a silver-haired washashore.