Rolla has a new seafood restaurant in town. In fact, it’s one of Rolla’s only seafood restaurants. “We’re really the only seafood here besides Long John Silver's,” says co-owner Sue Banholzer.
Home-cook enthusiasts Sue and her husband, Matt, opened NaCl + H2O – or Saltwater – this March with hopes of getting their fellow Rolla food-lovers to expand their palates. “People here are used to safe bets,” Sue says. “They like salmon and fried shrimp. We can always tell if it’s a new customer, because they usually get grilled salmon or our fish and chips.” But the second time that customer comes back, Sue says they’re ready to try something new.
Thanks to a diverse menu, customers are in luck. Steak, lamb chops, grilled shrimp po'boys, seared tuna clubs, hand-ground burgers, fish and chips and seafood pasta are just the tip of the iceberg at the restaurant. With a son in the Naval academy and a few Alaskan fishing trips logged over the years, the Banholzers hope the menu reflects their years of travel and their many road trips up and down the East Coast.
When the restaurant first opened, Sue and Matt’s menu even included tuna poké and capino loaded down with fresh shrimp and clams. Besides being a stellar home cook, Matt owns six Subways around Rolla. “He opened his first one right out of college,” Sue says. When the two would return home from traveling, Matt would take over the couple’s kitchen and recreate the dishes they loved most from their trips. “We started writing down recipes,” Sue says, “Once the kids were in college, we wanted to open something new, and there’s not a lot of fine dining in this area and no seafood.”
Over the next two years, Sue and Matt worked out their dream menu and invited friends and family over to try new dishes. By the time NaCl + H2O opened earlier this spring, the couple’s menu was stocked with homemade sauces, dressings, meat rubs, lobster mac 'n' cheese, hand-ground burgers and housemade cocktails.
The crab-cake sandwich is packed with chunks of crab meat; it's grilled and then baked. The popular shrimp and grits is a savory indulgence of Cheddar grits, shrimp, bacon and mushrooms. The menu offerings depend on what fresh seafood the Banholzers can get their hands on. When a case of oysters was available, the kitchen served up oyster po'boys for a day. And just like its nautical-themed menu, the decor and atmosphere at NaCl + H2O is a teak-trimmed nod to the coast.
NaCl + H2O, 817 Pine St., Rolla, Missouri, 573.426.6600, naclh2orolla.com