The best cioppino we had ever eaten was had at Sharks Seafood Bar back in 2009. Not only was there a substantial broth of tomatoes, vegetables and herbs—a recipe which the chef will not divulge—but a generous serving of fresh seafood. A noticeable amount of sweetness, which some may find a trifle much, came through from a generous amount of tomato paste. Cravings for it were mitigated by the cioppino base being available by mail order; all you need to do is add your own seafood. But the experience of this wonderful stew cannot be matched by enjoying it made to order in the quaint, nautically themed restaurant, and surrounded by the historic Bay Street waterfront.
Tonight, we decided to have a variation served with pasta. It isn’t technically a noodle dish but more aptly a stew with linguine in it. Marinara linguini (☆☆☆) comes with fresh Dungeness crab, two kinds of shrimp, and fresh fish (today it was rockfish). You could easily confuse this dish with another menu item, Cioppino and Pasta (☆☆☆), which only adds a few Manila clams for an additional $5. You might consider the marinara to be a better value. Both entrées arrived in large soup bowls filled to the brim and held their piping hot temperature long after they were placed in front of us. In the end, both of us agreed that the straightforward stew was preferable for no other reason than to forgo the starch that tended to sate us sooner than without and that the residual liquid from the pasta had a diluting effect. Otherwise, the cioppino appealed to our taste buds as much as the first time.