Crab a Bag: Seafood Boil in a Bag Comes to Newburgh | Restaurants | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
click to enlarge Crab a Bag: Seafood Boil in a Bag Comes to Newburgh
David McIntyre
Crab a Bag opened at 85 Liberty Street, Newburgh in December 2021

When Ronnie Maisonet and his two siblings were growing up in Manhattan, their dad worked as a supervisor at the MTA headquarters. Every night on his way home from work he’d swing by the open-air fish markets in Chinatown to pick something up to cook for dinner. “My father cooked seafood every day,” says Maisonet. “He would always bring something home from Canal Street—octopus, crabs, lobster, different fish.” So it’s no big surprise that, decades later, Maisonet has opened his own seafood restaurant.

And although his father’s glaucoma prevents him from seeing the inside of the ocean-themed eatery on Newburgh’s Liberty Street, where Maisonet and his brother Michael share the kitchen, he’s tasted his sons’ cooking and he approves. “He’s definitely proud,” Maisonet says.

Crab a Bag, which opened in December, is very much a family-run operation. The 13-month renovation of the space, formerly a flower shop, was completed by Maisonet, who also owns a painting and contracting company FMT, with help from his brother, cousin, father-in-law, and a friend. He owns the restaurant with his wife Tiffany. Their son Romello, a senior in high school, pops in to help after school.

In the kitchen, Maisonet cooks alongside his brother Michael, who left a gig running a Southern-style seafood restaurant in the Bronx to join the team. Maisonet specializes in the boiled and steamed preparations of seafood and vegetables while his brother works magic with the fryer, turning out everything from the house-breaded crab sticks and seasoned fries to the fried shrimp and bacalaitos (codfish fritters).

For Maisonet, seafood is associated with family and with festivity. “I was always making it in my house for family and friends, for cookouts, making different kinds of butter sauces,” he says. He even started catering out of his home kitchen before opening the restaurant. A few years ago, he stumbled upon YouTube tutorials for doing a seafood boil in a bag, a technique that he’s since mastered and that lends the restaurant its name. The seafood and classic vegetables, like potatoes and corn, are boiled or steamed, then mixed to order with seasoning and butter sauce in a plastic bag and popped in the oven, where the flavor permeates everything.

“Instead of marinating it in a pan, you marinate it in a bag, and it comes out better,” he says. “It’s definitely more flavorful.” The restaurant’s signature offering is the seafood boil bag with your choice of butter sauce (garlic, lemon pepper, spicy, or regular), a one-pound snow crab cluster, eight shrimp, corn, beef or pork sausage, red potatoes, and boiled eggs ($41.95). You can add on mussels for $6.95, a dozen clams for $9.50, or an additional crab cluster for $12.95. “It could feed two, but I wouldn’t ever share mine,” he says, dead serious.

The catfish, whiting, and fried shrimp dinners ($21) each come with two Southern-style sides like candied yams, collard greens, mac and cheese, and grits. The combos, popular for lunch, offer smaller portions with one side in the $15 to $24 range. Looking for a quick snack to tide you over or a starter for your meal? You can’t go wrong with the house-made shrimp empanadas (two for $5).

Both Maisonet and his wife are Puerto Rican. This culinary heritage shows through in the spice and seasoning combinations and in the weekly specials that Tiffany cooks up, like steak and onions, rice and beans, tostones, and pork chops.

“We get a lot of positive reviews about the food, the price, and the portion size,” Maisonet says. “We try to make our customers feel like they’re at home, make them feel like family.”

Work began this past weekend on renovating the back patio, where they’ll have additional seating and plan to host DJ nights and screenings of film classics like Dirty Dancing.

“The bar will be open this summer. We’re going to add stools to the countertop, so can sit and order drinks and eat crab legs. We’re also in the process of getting the permit to paint the outside and change the color,” Maisonet says. “We’re still working, still building, still progressing.”

Location Details

Crab a Bag

85 Liberty Street, Newburgh Newburgh

(845) 784-4082

1 article

About The Author

Marie Doyon

Marie is the Digital Editor at Chronogram Media. In addition to managing the digital editorial calendar and coordinating sponsored content for clients, Marie writes a variety of features for print and web, specializing in food and farming profiles.
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