Fishermen’s Catch Fish Market & Grill
1185 Victoria Ave.
$3.50-$45 (lobster)/market price
“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy, Fish are jumpin….” — George Gershwin, “Summertime”
Whenever summer “rolls” around, I get a hankering to splurge for a lobster roll or an entire Maine lobster to remind me of the summer I visited the state known as “Vacationland” long, long ago. Two friends and I devoured something insane like 39 lobsters at a Yankee Fourth of July party, where the lobster pot never stopped boiling and we all sang songs around the piano. (I prefer the sweeter meatier Maine lobster to our own local lobster, but to each their own).
Ever since, I have declared summer as the perfect excuse to mosey down to any seafood joint, and in this case Fishermen’s Catch in Oxnard, for some seafood and preferably lobster, mama. Family run — by father/son, third generation Italian American San Pedro fishermen Nick and Nick Guglielmo and daughter Robyn behind the cash register the day a few friends and I met up there, I liked this seafood market/casual dining spot to fulfill my fresh fish hankerings.
Order at the counter and grab a table inside at this casual spot located in a Channel Islands strip mall called Seabridge Harbor or outside overlooking a fountain and a palm tree-lined pleasure-boat inlet. Although perky young waiters and waitresses are not allowed to clean the outdoor tables, they will provide water and a few napkins.
I went for “Sunday dinch” (the time between lunch and dinner) with two friends — and we met composer/jazz pianist Bevan Manson, who lives nearby and swears by the salmon plate. On a late Sunday summer afternoon/early evening, we found the place blissfully un-crowded, but those we surveyed were all equally appreciative fans.
I splurged on the lobster roll. (I really wanted an entire lobster, even though I justify the lobster cost by saying it’s “cheaper than a flight to Maine.”) The white roll was heaving with flavorful chopped lobster with crunchy celery in a mayonaisey dressing cradled in a crispy piece of lettuce within the “topless” roll. (The top seemed to be missing — usually there’s a top that is toasted, right? — but there was plenty of bread for the roll that lost its top!) Someone told me these are called Yankee burritos, which was news to me, but I’ll take it. There’s plenty more than lobster here — the catch depends on the season and what’s come in. In the case, I spotted a great array that included fresh catches of the day from the owners’ boats and those of other fishermen.
The recommended calamari appetizer was the approved kick-off for our group. My friend Bill went for the halibut plate (“just for the halibut”) that he deemed “delicious,” accompanied by crunchy breaded fries and perfectly cooked veggie mix of zucchini, broccoli, carrots and onions. Pat chose orange roughy with a side of corn on the cob and salad — all pretty much straight forward and served on paper plates with small paper-cup sides of tartar and cocktail sauces. Pat ordered a bottle of wine — but the bottle had to stay inside (not allowed on the outdoor area). Neighbor in the know/professor of music Bevan disappointed us by not ordering the salmon plate he recommended (which I hope to return and try) but a simple, tasty fish taco ($3.95). Most prices range from $12 for a fish sandwich to $17 for a fishplate that includes two sides, and the fish doesn’t get any fresher unless you catch it yourself!
A funny sign adhered to the outside wall (it is located next door to the Coffee Bean) caught my eye: “Please, no persons in fountain … Do not feed the birds … Stay off the artwork.” Aye, aye, Capitan!
Fishermen’s Catch is a no-frills, tasty solution to your fish hankering and it’s an interesting drive through the Oxnard dunes from the 101. On top of that, you can enjoy a meal there and grab some really fresh fish to take home from the case (for example, shrimp, swordfish, local thresher shark, halibut and seabass, Canadian sushi-grade salmon and more) to cook at home. A win-win situation, in my lobster trap.