Serpa’s tweet said, “This is why the North End is a joke. Restaurants here are so sad.” A second tweet said, “Neptune succumbs to neighborhood competition and now offers a 42 oz lobster roll on a full brioche Pullman loaf for $162.
Pauli’s North End responded, “Just a big sandwich made to share w/friends. @michaelserpa we love your restaurant & the #northend.”
In a follow up with Boston Eater, Serpa defends his comments and further elaborates on his stance about North End restaurants.
“I fully stand by my comments and wanted to make clear that the North End is a great place to have a business, live, eat, and visit. I also believe the North End restaurant and food scene could use some work. The lack of inventive and creative places for an area that has so many restaurant spaces is a weakness for the North End.”
“I mentioned that the North End lacks pretty much any diversity in cuisine types, which some people thought would take away from our ‘Little Italy’. If 20 out of 100 restaurants (not sure how many North End spots there are) are not Italian does that mean the whole tradition of the neighborhood is gone? I think not. Also if 30 of those other 80 Italian restaurants are creative and distinct, who would argue that that is a bad thing.”
Serpa goes on to talk about how many places are doing lobster rolls now and turning into oyster bars because they’re trendy. He says that the owner of Rabia’s, now also a raw/oyster bar, threatened him by saying he was going to “break my face.”
Still, Serpa finds some worth in the North End … “Some of the things we have in the North End are amazing and unique, no doubt about it. The sense of neighborhood is like no other in the city.” And, ends on a hopeful note … “I hope that anyone who has a negative outlook on Neptune does give us another shot, but in case you don’t, I hope there are a lot more unique places for them to try in our city, and especially in the North End.”
7/12/13 Update from Rabia’s: The manager of Rabia’s, Malaz Hayek, reached out to respond to Serpa’s comment. He told us the owner of Rabia’s saw Serpa talking to potential customers looking at the Rabia’s menu on the street, telling them “not to try this place” and instead go to Neptune Oyster. Later, he saw Serpa walking by and confronted him about being “not professional.” He admitted it became a heated argument but had nothing to do with the lobster roll story. When asked about Serpa’s general comments about the lack of creativity in the North End, he said that Rabia’s expansion was first a mix of sushi and oyster bar, but the latter simply did much better. Hayek said he believes Rabia’s menu is very different from that of Neptune and has a long history in the North End, justifying its latest expansion.