Every now and then, I’ll be in an unfamiliar port, looking for a great dinner venue, and remind myself – “All great restaurants are not on Opentable or RESY!”

I’m not talking about iconic eateries that never take reservations; I’m talking about places that only take reservations Old School Style. You call em, they look in the book, and if they have room, they write your name down.

We were in Provincetown for one night and didn’t realize that it was the beginning of Carnival Week; a New England version of Mardi Gras with a heavy LGBTQ twist.

Great for people watching, but a little tough if you’re looking for a quiet restaurant to catch up with old friends, and that was our situation.

There were a few restaurants that still had tables available online, but as we strolled Commercial Street Sunday afternoon, it became clear that they had all converted to Cabarets to draw in Carnival goers.

Wanting to focus on quiet conversation our guests and not the floor show, Mrs. Horne rejected the Cabarnets and started pointing out random restaurants that did not offer online reservations.

I said, “I’m on it; give me a minute.”

Then I went to Yelp and started searching for top-rated restaurants. Right there, near the top of the list, was Front Street. I called them on the telephone (actually my iPhone), and they had room for us around 6:00.

My Long History with Front Street

I actually lived in Provincetown right out of high school. My brother Charles lived here back then, and he offered me a place to stay, so I moved into town.

In 1973, my brother’s friend Howard Gruber opened Front Street, and my brother worked there off and on during the ’70s. I recall hanging out in the kitchen with Charles and Howard, sampling really great cuisine.

Like my brother and so many of his friends, Howard died of AIDS in the nineties, and a young chef named Donna Aliperti bought it.

Two years ago, a Jamaican couple named Omar and Marianella Neil bought the restaurant and retained Aliperti’s Sous and Pastry Chef Kathy Cotter in the kitchen alongside Omar.

Front Street Co-owner Marianella Neil

Fast forward to June 2021, and I was walking down Commercial Street and recognized the iconic sign. And with that, I reconnected with this great restaurant.

Since then, we’ve dined there several times, and I thought I share some of our experiences.

A Warm Underground Lair

The restaurant is somewhat hidden. There is a row of Al fresco tables leading from Commercial Street to the entrance that sits at the top of a flight of stairs.

Halfway down the stairs is the host station and the infamous book holding THE BOOK, where dinner reservations are recorded by hand.

At the bottom of the stairs lies a beautiful bar to the right and several little dining nooks.

It’s so cozy and a perfect place to dine with old friends and enjoy an undistracted conversation.

The Menu

Front Street offers an authentic Italian menu.

They also have a Continental Menu with several very interesting dishes.

Suffice it to say, if you’re looking for a high-end dinner, you’ll find something here you like.

The Food

As Mrs. Horne can tell you, I’m a natural food critic who can’t help but discover anything amiss in the food I’m served.

After several great meals at Front Street, I can unequivocally say that virtually every bite was delicious.

Here are a few of the dishes we’ve enjoyed at Front Street.

Some people may object to paying $3.95 for quality bread service, but it makes so much sense. How many tons of bread ends up in the dumpster every year after being served to a dining table and never eaten?

The bread we were served last night was a piping hot sourdough.

The Wellfleet oysters were $3/each, which is about as low as they’re selling for anywhere this summer.

They also come with a tangy mignonette, which has become a mandatory accouterment lately.

All the salads are dinner portions and large enough to share.

The Caesar Salad at Front Street Provincetown
Tuscan Arugula (Feta Salad) at Front Street Provincetown
Buratta, Parma, and Prosciutto Salad at Front Street Provincetown

Front Street offers both Standing Specials and One-Night Specials as well. This time of year, they’re offering a killer Soft-shelled Crab.

Although we’ve tended to dine on the Continental menu, we also enjoyed some legit Italian dishes

Veal Marsala at Front Street Provincetown
White Truffle Gnocchi at Front Street Provincetown
Tea Smoked Duck at Front Street Provincetown
Gorgonzola Stuffed Filet Mignon at Front Street Provincetown

Mrs. Horne and I shared the Ribeye last night.

Gorgonzola Encrusted Grilled Ribeye at Front Street Provincetown

My only (minor) criticism was that it was tough to cut. Ribeyes are funny because I find you need one that’s at least 1 1/4 inch thick to cook and slice properly. This was well over a pound but probably less than an inch thick, which made it tough to slice. It’s also possible that the steak knives weren’t sharp enough.

Regardless, it was delicious, perfectly seasoned, and just the right proportion of Gorgonzola to Beef.

Next time you’re in Provincetown, call Front Street (508 487-9715) and get your name in the reservation book.