Lobster Diavolo

- Merrill

For a while, it looked like this recipe wasn't going to happen. One week, we ran out of time to shoot it, the next our local seafood store was out of lobster, the week after that Amanda and I were both going to be away and couldn't do a shoot. It was beginning to seem like one of my all-time favorite dishes -- which I've sampled all up and down the Northeast coast, from Esca in New York to Street and Company in Portland, Maine -- simply wasn't meant to be. At least not this summer on Food52.

Shop the Story

But then at the end of August, I spent a week with my family in Maine, and the opportunity presented itself: a fisherman friend offered to drop off a bunch of lobsters, and I knew exactly what was going to be on the menu. If it's done right, Lobster Diavolo sings with the fresh, juicy tang of summer tomatoes and thrums with the gentle heat of chilis. When tossed with al dente pasta, the sauce provides a kicky backdrop that complements rather than overwhelms the sweet suppleness of the lobster itself. I like to keep the lobster in large pieces so it looks pretty on the plate, and I've always loved Esca's addition of fresh mint, so I adopted it myself.

Last week, we were finally able to shoot this dish. We snuck in the photo at the very end of the day, as the light was waning. Once we had the shot, and we were all gathered around the pan, forking up spicy strands of pasta and sweet chunks of lobster, I felt that somehow, summer was now complete.

Lobster Diavolo

Serves 2

  • 2 pounds Roma tomatoes (or 28 ounces canned tomatoes with their juices)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for finishing
  • 2 fat cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • Salt
  • Two 1.5-pound live lobsters
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Like this post? See Merrill's post from last week: Two-Tone Fudgesicles

Photos by Nicole Franzen and Joseph Di Leo.

Order now

A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

Order now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • judester
  • boulangere
  • babyalways
  • Lizthechef
  • Bevi
I'm a native New Yorker, Le Cordon Bleu graduate, former food writer/editor turned entrepreneur, mother of two, and unapologetic lover of cheese.


judester September 20, 2011
I would like to try this recipe as it looks so delicious. In Florida, I have a wonderful shop that carries fresh Maine lobsters twice a week. Is there anything I can substitue to get good results without using garlic? I cannot use garlic in anything.
Merrill S. September 20, 2011
Thanks! Why not just soften some onion or shallot with the chili flakes? That should work nicely.
boulangere September 17, 2011
I want to twist my fork straight into the photo on the screen.
Merrill S. September 18, 2011
babyalways September 16, 2011
Absolutely my favorite dish!!!!!! Havent had it about in 10years my favorite eatery in Brooklyn NY closed. I always ordered twice one to take home to eat later, boy am I greedy, Thank you for bringing such joy considering now that we moved to Florida. Just looking at the picture makes my stomach smile.Wow I'm happy!!!!!!!!!!
Merrill S. September 18, 2011
What restaurant was that? And you're very welcome!
Lizthechef September 16, 2011
I love this - and the shot is terrific! Who took the photo? Perhaps I missed it...
Merrill S. September 16, 2011
Thanks! And the lovely Nicole Franzen took the photo.
TheWimpyVegetarian September 17, 2011
It's a beautiful photo and does justice to a wonderful-sounding dish!!
Bevi September 16, 2011
This looks wonderful and you make it look so doable. I am going to try to make this while the tomatoes are still fresh.
Merrill S. September 16, 2011
It's really not a lot of work -- just requires a little planning.
dymnyno September 16, 2011
This is so perfect...I just returned to Napa after 2weeks on the East Coast, including NY, Nantucket and Boston. I'm ready for more lobster! We're hoping(an understatement) for our Indian Summer to get the grapes ripened, develop flavors and finally picked.
Merrill S. September 16, 2011
Good luck!
aargersi September 16, 2011
I want this. Now. Immediately.
carol S. September 16, 2011
Fantastic! This is one of my favorite dishes -- a must cook and eat as I hold on to the last days of summer. Thanks, Merrill!
Merrill S. September 16, 2011
We're all holding on, I think!
phyllis September 16, 2011
This has been one of my favorite summer dishes since I was a child. I can't always find really sweet, wonderful lobster, but I substitute fat, sweet shrimp and it's almost as wonderful. Our pool closed yesterday. End of summer...
Merrill S. September 16, 2011
That's the other sure sign...
lastnightsdinner September 16, 2011
Oh, YUM. One of my absolute summer favorites - and now that my folks are here visiting, we're planning to drive out to Newport to pick up some lobsters. I know just what I want to do with them :)
Merrill S. September 16, 2011
Hope you like it!
ChefJune September 16, 2011
I love this. It's also delicious made with shrimp. When I lived in the North End of Boston, we used to go over to Daily Catch, a teensy storefront on Hanover Street, where Lobster Fra Diavolo was the specialty. It was best in the fall and winter, because they cooked right there in the seating area and there was no ac, so the place was not only tiny, but also very warm.

Merrill, yours is as appetizing as those I'm remembering right now. ;)
Merrill S. September 16, 2011
Thanks, ChefJune! And probably much simpler to make this with shrimp.
Helen's A. September 16, 2011
I used to live in the North End, too! Love the Daily Catch.... This was the only dish I would order there. I'll have to make this VERY soon!
Greenstuff September 16, 2011
I have the same memories, ChefJune! Once I was there on my birthday. The only other party there was room for in that tiny space was also celebrating a birthday, and it was a great Lobster Fra Diavolo extravaganza.
EmilyC September 16, 2011
What a stunning dish. Glad the stars aligned for you to make it!
Merrill S. September 16, 2011
Thanks. Me too!