SOMERSET, MASSACHUSETTS — The catastrophic nor’easter that struck the Northeast on Feb. 5, 1978, became known as the Blizzard of 1978, and the heavy accumulation of snow made the roads virtually impassable, leaving hundreds of motorists stranded in their cars until help could arrive.
Across Southern New England, more than 3,500 cars were found abandoned on the highways.
During the storm, a group of residents in Fall River, Massachusetts, decided they were not going to let the snow deter them from breaking out of their cabin fever. They found a restaurant that was open on that snowy night: Magoni’s Ferry Landing, located in the town of Somerset, right across from Fall River and divided by the Taunton River.
To get there, the group walked across the Brightman Street Bridge, then crossed Route 6 to the restaurant, which welcomed them in for a pleasant and enjoyable dinner at a time when there wasn’t much they could do about the snow except get out of it, and enjoy some good food.
For years afterwards, that same group of people got together every February, parked near the Brightman Street Bridge, and made the trek over it once again to Magoni’s restaurant — still braving the bitter New England cold, but no longer, at least, trudging through multiple feet of snow. What they had discovered was the reason why so many people visit New England in the first place: to dine at a restaurant that delivers the finest in fresh seafood to a hungry public.
More than three decades later, Magoni’s remains in business, still welcoming weary travelers who want a place where they can relax, have a beer or glass of wine, and then make the difficult decision about what tempting seafood plates to sample for dinner. Located at 681 Riverside Ave. in Somerset, the brightly flashing sign in the parking lot near the side of the road, or the one above the restaurant itself, welcomes visitors who may be coming over that historic bridge — which, ironically, could soon be slated to be torn down, since the state has built a new and larger bridge just a short distance away from it. The original, 922-foot long, four-lane wide drawbridge spanning the Taunton River opened full time on Oct. 10, 1908.
Magoni’s hasn’t been around that entire time, of course, but it has been there for many decades, at least five, serving area residents and travelers to New England for generations. As the menu notes, “Trends come and go, but classic stands the test of time. Fifty-plus years of great food, great atmosphere and great fun. Dine with us 364 days a year.”
Magoni’s has a pleasant feel, as you sit down — hopefully with a table by the window, to catch a view of the Taunton River across the street — and chat with the very friendly staff at this local institution. You can also check out Primo’s Lounge, named after the restaurant’s founder, Louis “Primo” Magoni, a fine place to enjoy a cocktail after work.
Magoni’s has a diverse menu, with options that include Filet Mignon, Veal Marsala, Sirloin Steak, and Boneless Chicken Breast, among them. And in a nice nod to the region’s ethnic diversity — and in particular to Fall River and Somerset’s large Azorean population — there’s even a Portuguese Steak on the menu. It’s an eight ounce sirloin, pan-friend, and topped with a fried egg, pepper and garlic sauce.
But as a restaurant in Southern New England, right along the coast, with the Atlantic Ocean close by, Magoni’s not surprisingly excells at one thing in particular: seafood. And the seafood menu is extraordinarily tempting.
You can try Broiled Salmon, or perhaps that old standby, Fish & Chips with home fries and cole slaw. There’s Scallops Nantucket — tender scallops in a casserole — or Broiled Scrod, a filet of fish topped with seasoned crumbs.
Another option is Broiled Scallops, or Snowcrab Legs in butter. There’s a Little Necks Marinara plate — little necks simmered in a spiced marinara sauce over linguine — or just a side order of Little Necks on the Half Shell.
You can try fried clams or fried scallops plates, a happy reminder of why fishermen stay employed off the docks of New Bedford and Cape Cod, Massachusetts; or one of my old favorites, a Stuffed Quahog — chopped quahogs in a spiced stuffing. My waitress asked, and then delivered, a bottle of hot sauce, which I recommend for those who want it to be a tad bit spicier.
And then, last but certainly not least, there’s lobster….
… a boiled, one and a half pound lobster, with plenty of melted butter to dip it in.
Or a Lobster Stew, or Lobster Bisque, before your meal.
And would it be a New England restaurant without … clam chowder?
Those weary travelers who braved the heavy snow in February 1978 to get a good, filling meal at Magoni’s made a terrific choice. This is a genuine, family-owned New England seafood restaurant, serving seafood dishes that are exceptionally well cooked. And don’t forget to check out Magoni’s famous cinnamon sticks after your meal, a great way to indulge a bit.
But you don’t need to be escaping the frigid cold of the winter or a blanket of snow to seek refuge in Magoni’s. Any time of the year, their fine catch of the day welcomes you, and leaves you wonderfully satisfied.
To learn more, call 508-674-4335.
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.