THE BEGINNING OF A TRADITION
“We started oyster night a couple of years ago to try something new and different when the economy was in a slump, and demand for it has grown each since then,” says Mark Arcobasso, owner and chef at Domenico’s Italian Restaurant & Lounge, located in Jefferson City. The restaurant hosts the event five or six times a year (mainly between the months of September and April) or the months with “r” in them — otherwise known as official oyster season. The one-night event, which has been mainly driven through Facebook posts and word of mouth, now brings a cult of local fans and visiting legislators into the restaurant for a night full of fun and flavor.
When asked what the secret of his success is, Arcobasso says it’s simple: “We just start with good oysters.” Fresh medium-sized Chesapeake Bay Blue Point Oysters are what he’s referring to; they’re commonly described as mild, pleasantly salty and meaty.
“They’re typically cleaner and fill the shell,” the chef says. And locals notice, consuming nearly 800 freshly shucked oysters — all in one night.
“It’s always first come, first serve,” Arcobasso says. “And we sell out, every time.”
Whether you’re a serious oyster-lover or just curious to see how they taste, Domenico’s offers up plenty of options. For starters, Arcobasso recommends trying them grilled or fried, such as the Casino or Rockefeller. However, for those wanting to try something new, Blue Points are great beginner oysters because they’re generally not overwhelming and pair well cocktail sauce, lemon and crackers. Order them cooked or chilled on the half shell.
“We do oysters like Forrest Gump does shrimp,” Arcobasso jokes. “Essentially, consuming oysters is about enjoyment, so devour yours however you see fit and most satisfying.”
Domenico’s next oyster event will take place during the months of March and April. Mid-Missouri oyster-lovers can watch for upcoming event announcements on the restaurant’s Facebook page, Facebook.com/Domenicos.JeffersonCity.
Domenico’s Italian Restaurant & Lounge, 3702 W. Truman Blvd., Jefferson City, MO, 573-893-5454
Photography By: Rebecca Rademan