by Rebecca M. Alvin
It’s late afternoon Friday of a holiday weekend in April. Staff at Bayside Betsy’s are busily preparing for dinner service while tending to customers lingering after their lunches on the outdoor deck. It’s the beginning of the shoulder season and the feeling of a new year is in the air, even as Betsy’s is a year-round business. Diners happily enjoy the sunshine on the deck, but several sport the red blankets Betsy’s offers them to counter the spring chill that inevitably comes with the gorgeous water views. New owner Tony Valentino is explaining what he’s changed and what will stay the same here at the 22-year-old Commercial Street restaurant, in between greeting townies who drop in for coffee or to pick up an online order.
“I grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, so I come from Amish country. You know, quality
products, quality ingredients, quality service. If you’re going to do it, you’re going to do it right the first time because your name’s on it,” says Valentino.
In a tourist-driven economy like Provincetown’s, it can be difficult to strike the right balance between a thriving, successful business that offers visitors what they want and a local institution that townies can rely on year-round for reasonable prices and a comfortable space where they feel as respected and valued in July as they do in January. But Valentino thinks he can achieve that by combining ideas that have worked for him at his other restaurant the Top Mast Café in North Truro, with some new ones specific to the Provincetown crowd at Betsy’s.
It all begins with the employees. “I’ve hired a really amazing staff,” Valentino boasts. He names Tracey Price, the general manager; David Finnegan, the bar manager; and Chef Chris Gratton, all of whom have worked at various restaurants in town and elsewhere and bring their experience and knowledge to Betsy’s.
But what good is service with a smile if the smile is not an authentic one? Valentino seeks to relieve some of the stress that comes with the job of working in a busy Provincetown restaurant. He says he listens to his employees to find out where those stresses come in, including numerous kitchen equipment upgrades and “a robotic barrista” that makes perfect coffee drinks every time.
As a patron of the restaurant, you’ll find a menu that is unpretentious, reasonably priced, and diverse enough for everyone in your party without overwhelming you with too many choices. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served, as well as an abbreviated pub menu between lunch and dinner for those who just want to pop in for a snack. In the mornings you will find your standard breakfast fare, with a few twists, including the lobster burrito, featuring eggs, lobster, scallions, and swiss cheese, and a wide variety of benedicts to choose from. For lunch and dinner, the focus is on comfort foods like fried chicken, burgers of all kinds (including the popular vegan Beyond burger), fried fish platters, and of course that traditional Cape Cod staple, the lobster roll, featuring huge chunks of fresh lobster meat on a warm bun served with paper-thin fried potatoes.
There are also higher-end offerings like short ribs and pork Osso Bucco, and for vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free diets, there are many offerings, not just one or two. In fact, Valentino recalls feedback from a gluten-intolerant diner who he says was practically in tears when he said, “I can’t tell you how nice it is to go out to dinner with my friends and not be given a plate of steamed vegetables!…And then I got to pick a dessert, and I had choices!”
It’s truly a place where everyone can come get delicious food and enjoy it right on the water, with professional, friendly staff, and a warm, welcoming environment whether you’ve lived in town for 20 years or you’re just visiting for the day.
Bayside Betsy’s is located at 177 Commercial St., Provincetown. The restaurant is open year-round, seating diners from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Takeout is available and online ordering will be shortly. For more information and current days and hours of operation, call 508.487.6566 or visit baysidebetsys.com.