Philadelphia natives have brought down hoagies, and New Yorkers are always trying to share their pizza, but there was a shortage of New England-style seafood shacks. Thankfully restaurateur (and Cape native) Scott Hamilton has filled the void with the just-opened Liberty Tree on H Street, a casual neighborhood spot inspired by New England shore food.
Brick-oven-roasted Littleneck clams ($9) arrive plump and salty, with plenty of French bread for dipping. Lobster gets its due in a traditional, buttery lobster roll and with scallops in a potpie nestled under golden puff pastry.
Seafood may dominate the menu, but land-based alternatives hold their own, especially when they come from the grill. Slices of juicy grilled pork loin ($15) balance smoky bacon with sweet apple cider reduction. And a meatball-stuffed sandwich with a generously spiced tomato sauce ($9) is aptly named the "Knife and Fork" Grinder.
Chef Graig Glufling worked at Matchbox, so he's a master of small, thin-crust pies like the Cape Cod Casino ($10), pizza's garlicky answer to clams casino, made with bacon, chopped clams and spinach.
Desserts like a hot fudge sundae ($5) and warm chocolate chip bread pudding ($6) keep with the classic theme.
Hamilton plans to add more varieties of clams and seafood dishes as the season rolls around. It's a shore bet.
The Liberty Tree, 1016 H St. NE, between 10th and 11th sts.; 202-396-8733 or libertytreedc.com