At $7.99, the bargain-priced sandwich is packed to overflowing with finely chopped lobster mixed with a healthy dose of mayonnaise and a touch of shredded iceberg for good measure. The chain gets the pleasing temperature contrasts of a Maine lobster roll just right, and the sweet lobster was paired perfectly with Amato's signature soft, chewy rolls. It was a surprise bright spot among the bottom-shelf rolls we tried. Call first; the lobster roll at Amato's is a seasonal item and may not be available in all restaurants.
Panera Bread: panera.com
Ninety Nine Restaurant
The lobster roll was one of the surprise brighter spots in our tasting. Served chilled with mayo or warm with drawn butter, the $15.99 sandwich-and-fries combo was gigantic, and overflowing with sweet chunks of lobster meat. The huge toasted roll was soft, chewy, and served warm, as it should be. The lobster salad gets just a touch of crunch from a small dice of celery, but otherwise, it's plain and simple, the way a lobster roll should be. Overall, I was impressed and quite pleasantly surprised by the quality of the lobster roll at the Ninety Nine.
Ninety Nine Restaurant: 99restaurants.com
What we're left with under current owner Papa Gino's direction is the sandwich chain's $11.99 version of a lobster roll. It's served either naked and very cold, or hot and smothered in breadcrumbs, or with a six inch steak-and-cheese sub on the side (as a poor man's "Surf and Turf"). The bread gets high marks for its crusty chew, however, a less-than-meager amount of watery lobster meat was completely overwhelmed by a half-ton of shredded iceberg lettuce. One taste of the lobster proved too much; served far too cold, and with a distinctly swampy taste that suggests the meat had been picked from the shell long, long ago.
D'Angelo Grilled Sandwiches: dangelos.com
A quick read through the ingredient list made my heart sink. The third ingredient in the lobster roll, after lobster meat and mayonnaise, was "breadcrumbs," which I presume are used as a filler. This kind of attitude toward lobster never bodes well, and my taste buds confirmed my suspicions. The sandwich was too wet, too marshy, and the bun too stale and chewy. The lobster salad itself? The first phrase that came to mind was "low tide." Skip this one.
Shaw's Supermarket: shaws.com
Linda Bean's Perfect Maine
Linda Bean's Perfect Maine® Lobster Roll: lindabeansperfectmaine.com
Au Bon Pain
Au Bon Pain: aubonpain.com
I am pleased to announce, however, that what I found at Pat's Pizza in Yarmouth was jaw-droppingly delicious. Made fresh to order, the bun was soft, fluffy, and perfectly fresh. The outside was toasty and warm, while the inside stayed cool and soft. A dab of lettuce offered a slight crunch, but the star here was the lobster salad; a generous portion of sweet Maine lobster meat, freshly picked, slightly chilled, and tossed with just the right amount of mayonnaise. A finish of salt and pepper intensified the flavor ever-so-slightly, making this lobster roll the surprise standout in our bottom-shelf lobster roll roundup. It's the only sandwich in the entire tasting that I took more than a bite of, greedily polishing it off while standing in the sun in the middle of the asphalt parking lot.
At under $8, you can't beat the price, and the quality of the lobster roll doesn't suffer one bit. It's the budget lobster roll against which all others should be judged.
Pat's Pizza: patspizza.com