Best Lobster Pizza Plus a History Lesson? Sign Me Up!
BY MAGGIE KLEIN
KONK LIFE STAFF WRITER
As you probably know, the culinary field is one of the hardest in which to flourish, let alone make it. Because of the constant competition, being a successful Chef requires skill, determination, and creativity. It’s not often that a new recipe in a small town receives world-wide attention, but let’s zero in on 1400 Duval St., where the Home of the World-Famous Lobster Pizza is located!
After attending Johnson & Wales University, a premier culinary school, working in different kitchens, and experimenting with recipes, Chef Rafe and his father Michael Halpern founded the Seaside Café in January of 2019, and it has been flourishing at the Southernmost House Mansion ever since. The Southernmost House is a historic mansion in the city of Key West, Florida. Rafe designed the menu for the café, the design of the truck, and all the unique and creative dishes that keep customers coming back. Two of the most famous dishes, due to their special play on tradition, are the lobster pizza, and the honey butter lobster biscuits. Rafe’s father Michael sheds light on the dishes’ popularity, by stating, “We discovered that tourists that visit our island love seafood and lobster, so we created two completely unique lobster dishes: the lobster pizza and the honey butter lobster biscuits. Both of them took off, and nothing has been quite like when we first introduced the lobster pizza.”
As a father of such a successful chef, Michael prides himself on how lucky he is to have Rafe as a son. After giving a timeline of Rafe’s experience throughout college and various kitchens, he adds, “It’s great for a father to see his son’s work recognized, especially as a Key West local. He was raised here, and to see him find a place on the island where he can make food for people is very rewarding.” What’s more informative, is reading the reviews from visitors about the food that they created. Among the 1,318 reviews for Seaside Café via tripadvisor.com, some snippets include, “the staff/service is absolutely outstanding, 10/10 would recommend to the world… every single thing we had was amazing from drinks to food.” (User Barkerdill)., “Coming from Boston, this pizza blows the socks off of anything we have up there. If you love lobster, you NEED to try the lobster pizza.” (User Jimbof820)., “This place is phenomenal. We wanted to eat here because of the really high rating and it did not disappoint! One thing I really wanted to try was the lobster pizza and it was mind blowing…. What a find, if you are in Key West definitely stop here and the environment is top notch right on the water at the Southernmost Point!” (User Atradeaway). These are only some highlights from the ample positive reviews of the café, most of them about the lobster pizza! So, what are you waiting for?
For some history? Well, you’re in luck. In addition to the food, the location really drives the place home. The Southernmost Mansion, where the Seaside Café resides, is just a few steps from the Atlantic Ocean, and the restaurant also offers tours of its mansion to any customer who asks. The mansion was built in 1897 by William Curry as a one bedroom house, until 1919, when Al Capone seized and converted it into a speakeasy and gambling casino until 1933, then the Ramos family purchased it to make it a restaurant, called Café Cayo Hueso. The restaurant remained until the late 1940’s, and during this time was visited by five US presidents: Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, and Carter, as well as Ernest Hemingway, amongst many other American writers. Clearly the walls of this mansion have seen a rich amount of history and famous faces.
Along with the tours, customers are encouraged to provide tips during the tour. The accumulated tips all go to Michelle’s Foundation, a charitable foundation named after Michael’s wife, Michelle. The Foundation raises money to help children achieve their highest potential. The donations go directly to the children, students, and families in the community. So, why not take a trip to the Seaside Café, grab a slice of that infamous lobster pizza, take an enriching tour of the Mansion, and help some kids in need, huh?[livemarket market_name="KONK Life LiveMarket" limit=3 category=“” show_signup=0 show_more=0]