(Boston MA 07/30/17) Some oysters from East Boston Oysters, Sunday, July 30, 2017, at LaPresti Park in East Boston. Herald Photo by Jim Michaud
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This Saturday is dubbed National Oyster Day — but for Alexis Cervasio, it’s just another weekend. Ever since she was a teenager, the native Bostonian would hit the beach in summer toting a blanket, a book, and a big cooler full of bivalves.

“I love the feeling of sitting on a beach, cutting into an oyster,” muses Cervasio. “I noticed it made other people excited. I’d bring to the beach a cooler full of 100 oysters, and as soon as I started shucking, everyone would ask if they could have one.

“One day I thought, ‘I could make money off this!’ ”

And that’s how she hatched East Boston Oysters, an event series with a fast-growing cult following. (It just won “Best Pop-Up” from the Improper Bostonian in the magazine’s annual Boston’s Best awards.) East Boston Oysters has a simple premise: Expose enthusiastic foodies to the unsung dining scene in the harborside neighborhood by partnering with guest chefs, cocktail gurus, oyster farmers and other plugged-in epicures to design cool, one-of-a-kind experiences in surprise locations that are revealed to ticket holders only 24 hours in advance. They sell out almost immediately, earning long wait lists that are a tribute to the popularity of the pop-up — and, of course, our insatiable hunger for oysters.

“They’re sexy. They’re photogenic,” says Cervasio, explaining the appeal of the long-purported aphrodisiacs among the current crop of food world followers who scramble to slurp with East Boston Oysters. When she’s not planning pop-ups, she’s a manager at Back Bay restaurant Doretta Taverna & Raw Bar, a Greek spot where the fresh-shucked oysters are served with cucumber-jalapeno mignonette. She hopes that one day East Boston Oysters, which seems to have hit a special stride in its third year, could become a full-time gig by planning corporate events and other private outings with the same whimsy it currently offers to guests at its pop-ups.

Recent events have included an extra-East Boston “field trip” to Chatham Shellfish Co., a working oyster farm, to enjoy a guided tour, all-you-can-eat oyster bar, and other yummy eats like caviar-topped bagels washed down with glasses of sparkling rose. This weekend sees a sold-out pop-up (the site is hush-hush) featuring the folks from Narragansett, R.I.’s Walrus & Carpenter Oysters, a DJ spinning tunes, a tiki bar blending tropical cocktails and inventive small-batch ice creams from Boston’s artisanal Parlor Ice Cream Co. Cervasio, who plans these events with help from her friend and fellow Doretta co-worker Grace Ghazey, says that specific attendance ranges from 12 to 200. And the legions of oyster lovers are only growing.

“Once people discover that there are so many different varieties — this one is sweet, that one is briny — it becomes an addiction to try as many as you can,” she says.

If oyster eating is an addiction, it’s one with plenty of willing enablers. North Square Oyster, a new North End eatery that opened in May, moves about 6,000 to 7,000 oysters per week, according to chef Douglas Rodrigues. The restaurant, which puts creative, contemporary spins on some classic New England surf and turf, is just one of several new and upcoming area restaurants stressing oyster selections: Others include ReelHouse, a trendy yacht club-evoking entry on the East Boston waterfront; Ledger, a just-opened Salem restaurant serving oysters raw or wood-grilled with charred tomato and sunflower; and a Fenway location of Eventide Oyster Co., sibling to the Portland, Maine, original, which just scored chefs Mike Wiley and Andrew Taylor the 2017 James Beard award for “Best Chef: Northeast.” Boston’s Eventide is slated to open in early fall.

And in honor of National Oyster Day, a slew of other spots will help transform the South End into a big shuck-fest. On Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the SoWa Open Market will host an oyster-themed block party. The market’s usual fleet of food truck vendors will serve special eats like fried oyster tacos, courtesy of the Shuck Truck, and fried oyster bao with Kewpie mayo and pickled radish, dispensed by the mobile eatery Moyzilla.

Higher-end preparations that highlight the versatility of oysters are also increasingly popping up in restaurants. At Oak + Rowan, a 10-month-old addition to Boston’s Seaport-adjacent Fort Point neighborhood, guests can opt for a half-dozen assortment divided evenly between raw West Coast-raised oysters, currently topped with tomato gazpacho, and broiled East Coasters, now adorned with roasted tomato aioli.

Similarly “composed oyster” spreads have quickly become signature at North Square Oyster, where Rodrigues uses each bivalve as a vehicle to deliver gorgeous, painstakingly arranged combinations of complementary flavors. Recent interpretations have topped oysters with watermelon pearls, rose and creme fraiche; hibiscus ponzu, cherry-cured quail yolk and lemon verbena; and uni, nori, pineapple and gold foil.

Rodrigues says that oysters are a great outlet for free-flowing creative juices. “The only problem is that each new oyster becomes my favorite,” he chuckles.

Oysters aren’t just for eating out, though. “One of our big missions is to get more people to eat oysters at home,” says Chris Sherman, president of Island Creek Oysters. The 20-year-old Duxbury oyster farm has become ubiquitous. It distributes about 200,000 oysters per week and works with 600 chefs in top restaurants in 44 states; there are 100 accounts in Boston alone, Sherman says. Members of its team run four restaurants, two Island Creek Oyster Bar locations (in Boston and Burlington), and two Row 34 restaurants (in Boston and Portsmouth, N.H.), the latter named for a specific oyster variety grown in numbered cages.

Island Creek’s next venture, though, is designed to encourage more slurping at home. Any day now will see the opening of The Shop by Island Creek Oysters, a Portland, Maine, retail outlet that will see the Bay State-based company in our northern neighbor’s now-booming oyster industry. The focus will be to hawk oysters: both Island Creek’s own bivalves, as well rotating varieties sourced from other small Maine oyster farms — about six to eight to start, he says.

With today’s smart farmers helping to solve supply problems, the oyster renaissance rolls on. “Once oysters were a part of people’s everyday life,” says Sherman. “We’re trying to find contemporary ways to have the same effect.”