Legends: Lobster Newberg

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 November, 2012, 11:01am

There is little dispute that this dish of sliced lobster covered in cream was made famous by Delmonico's restaurant in New York. Some say it was also created there.

Delmonico's is a New York institution. Opened in the 1820s by Giovanni and Pietro Delmonico, it was known for being frequented by politicians, filmmakers and stars. Besides this dish, the restaurant also claims to be the birthplace of the Delmonico steak, baked Alaska and eggs Benedict.

According to Delmonico's: A Century of Splendor by Lately Thomas, the most extensive book written about the venue, lobster Newberg was introduced to America by a man named Ben Wenberg, who was reportedly both a fruit trader and the captain of a lobster boat.

Whenever he was in New York, he would make a beeline to Delmonico's. One day he made Charles Delmonico, the manager of the restaurant, a new dish he'd learned on his travels: lobster covered in cream with a dash of red powder. Although Wenberg claimed it was a secret, those who witnessed the performance said it was cayenne pepper. Charles Delmonico enjoyed it so much, he put it on his restaurant's menu, calling it Lobster à la Wenberg.

After Delmonico and Wenberg had a falling out, the book says Delmonico simply turned the first syllable of the name around.

Another story goes that Wenberg didn't want his name on the menu.

However, some claim the dish was created northwest of New York, in Milford, Pennsylvania, in a restaurant also called Delmonico's. This Delmonico's was in the Hotel Fauchere and owner Louis Fauchere was once a chef at Delmonico's in New York. Fauchere once claimed he created lobster à la Newberg, although he seemed to have presented no evidence. Today, the hotel concedes the dish was created at Delmonico's in New York.