If you ask a dozen people what makes the perfect slice of pizza, you’re likely to get a dozen wildly different answers. Like finances and politics, pizza can be both polarizing and personal. But if you like a thin slice, with a slightly charred, crisp crust, and a surprising array of flavorful toppings, then get yourself to Seabright. Actually, even if you don’t typically like those things, you owe it to yourself to try this pie.
Created by midcoast culinary wizard Brian Hill, Seabright is the third home run in a lineup that includes Shepherd’s Pie and Francine Bistro. The recently opened Camden spot is more casual than Hill’s other eateries, but with the same offbeat approach to traditional items. While I consider myself a pizza universalistI like slabs of Sicilian, deep dish pies you need to eat with a shovel, and delightfully foldable Brooklyn-style slicesI was happily surprised to have my palate challenged by the creations at Seabright. Although some of the pizzas feature just the classic ingredients, others push the flavor a bit further, to the point where a blindfolded taster might mistake this pizza for something else entirely. Take, for example, Hill’s favorite pie. With roasted red curry squash, crumbly sweet bits of amaretti cookies, gently caramelized leeks, and a dressing of black pepper and honey, it’s sweet without being overwhelmingly so, rich without feeling heavy. It’s an interesting medley of vegetables, cheese, and spices, and unfortunately, it’s not on the menu. Like many of Seabright’s most interesting dishes, this is a weekly special, created with autumnal ingredients for a cold fall day.
Fortunately, this was not the only pizza we sampled. I arrived at Seabright with staff photographer Sean Thomas in tow an hour before the restaurant began dinner service, which gave the staff ample time to serve up five different pies, as well as one very memorable Chilled Snail Salad for me. At this time of day, the restaurant was sunny and welcoming, with bright painted walls and quirky Italian-inspired decor. I imagine it would feel cozy and glowing at nightcasual, yet miles beyond your average “pizza parlor” in terms of both service and ambiance. On this particular afternoon, we dined alongside the servers and bartenders in the near-empty restaurant. Together, we managed to eat our way through pounds and pounds of delectable pizza. We tried the roasted mushroom pie, which is elevated from the ordinary by dollops of savory, creamy mushroom puree and chewy bites of local cheese curds. We devoured a margarita pizza, which was baked to perfection, complete with bitter black char marks from the brick oven. We had pizza with meatballs, pizza with figs, and pizza with romanesco. We had pesto pizza and pizza covered in a sweet balsamic syrup. It was a lot like the pizza parties I remember from childhood, except instead of sugary glasses of coke, I sipped Seabright’s house made sangria. And instead of greasy breadsticks, I snacked on cold slices of snails bathed in a garlicky sauce.
About that snail salad: I would recommend this to adventurous eaters and those who seek something richer than everyday flavors, something with a bit more bite, a bit more texture. I have never experienced snails in this form, but I found the thin slices of cold meat oddly addicting. If oysters taste like the sea, snails taste like the shore. There is something wonderfully musky about them that reminds me of marshes and foggy mornings. The peppery arugula served to freshen the dish, and the garlic dressing was a nice, acidic touch. Even after eating eight (yes, I counted) slices of pizza, I was still able to finish this salad. Sadly, the snails and the slices left me with no room for dessert. But there’s always next time.
7 Public Landing | Camden | 207.230.1414 | seabrightcamden.com