Quincy Street Ltd.
2405 Roosevelt Blvd.
$7.50 – $29.95

Quincy Street restaurant has had a solid presence in Silver Strand beach in Oxnard for around 25 years now. Though I heard that, back in the day, it used to be an occasional stop for celebrities, the vibe is now that of a true neighborhood restaurant. No-frills decorations, wood paneling and a few old photographs set the tone for a place that is really all about the food, and more specifically, mass quantities of food.

The menu at Quincy Street is an interesting blend of different genres. There are barbecue, Italian pasta specialties, and a handful of seafood dishes as well. Though the restaurant is known for its Chicago style barbecue and ribs, our server told us it started out as an Italian restaurant and suggested we try a pasta dish as well.

Know this before you go to Quincy Street: this restaurant is the land of hearty eating. Dieters and wimpy eaters need not apply. With this in mind, we started with a cup of the New England clam chowder and a quarter-brick of onion rings. The chowder was thick, creamy and soothing — the perfect remedy to yet another cold, foggy night in Ventura County. Yet my dining companion, who hails from New England, was not wowed by it. The chunks of clam and potato were sparse, and when he asked for crackers to go with it (a key component in the whole chowder experience, he explained), he was met with an unapologetic “no.”

The onion brick on the other hand, was a culinary masterpiece. Thick-cut onions are battered and fried, and served in brick form. Our server cut it into sections and then served each of us ceremoniously. The batter was crunchy and salty, and the barbecue sauce for dipping was thick, red and sweet. Since we only ate about half of our quarter-brick, I can only imagine how huge a full brick is.

Though tempted by the sound of the pepper-seared ahi with mayo-wasabi compote and the tri-tip with bordelaise sauce and mushrooms, my companion ordered the ribs and grilled shrimp kebab. The ribs were the true star on the plate. This slab of juicy ribs was well-charred and brushed liberally with barbecue sauce. The meat was tender and covered in a nice bark. Though the meat wasn’t supersmoky, the sweetness of the sauce more than made up for it.

In contrast, the shrimp were overcooked — at least for this dining experience — and shy on flavor despite a brushing of barbecue sauce. The ribs and shrimp came with rice pilaf, steamed vegetables and baked beans. The beans were unique — instead of the sweetness of brown sugar, they were savory, with what tasted like a hint of cumin. Though the entree was on the pricier side at $24.95, including the sides, with the chowder and the garlic bread and corn bread we snacked on when we arrived, it was a ton of food, with plenty left to take home.

I ordered a half-order of the lasagna al forno with a small spinach salad on the side. Both were expertly made and tasted divine. The lasagna noodles were layered with hearty meat sauce, mozzarella, ricotta and Romano cheeses. I adored the tang of the cheese with the sauce, and the whole dish was like a warm hug on a plate. The spinach salad was tossed with chopped egg and chunks of bacon, and dressed in a warm sweet bacon dressing that wilted it gently.

The half-order of lasagna was more than enough, as was the salad. I, too, got a lot of food and had some left over, all for around $14.

When it came time for dessert, we were tempted by the Jack Daniels bread pudding and the mud pie, but simply had no room left. Next time, we vowed to ourselves, we’ll save room.

Since the history of the restaurant was one of the things that drew us there, I had hoped to learn more about it, but none of the servers seemed to know much. I was told that the restaurant was being remodeled after changing ownership about a year ago, so many of the old photos of Hollywood stars that used to line the walls had been taken down.

While the food is good and the portions grand, some of the food at Quincy Street is still on the pricey side. Yet, with its flexibility and the option of half-orders, there are ways to be a bit more budget conscious. It is a bit of a drive from Ventura, but for those like the couple sitting next to us — drinking their carafe of house wine and clearly walking home — it is a great neighborhood hangout where you can have a beer and a burger for around $12 or splurge and have a cocktail and filet mignon for around $35.

What’s your favorite old-school restaurant? Leave a comment on my blog at www.venturafoodhappenings.com.