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The Boston Globe

Food & dining

quick bite

Ward 8 mixes it up in the North End

Ward 8’s lobster roll.

Yoon S. Byun/Globe staff

Ward 8’s lobster roll.

The dining area at Ward 8.

Yoon S. Byun/Globe staff

The dining area at Ward 8.

Where to Ward 8, a new North End restaurant serving small plates, bistro fare, and classic cocktails.

What for Everyone loves Italian food, just not all the time. Come here for an alternative in the neighborhood. Executive chef Kenny Schweizer formerly worked at the Bristol Lounge, and bar manager Mike Wyatt was at Eastern Standard.

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The scene This little restaurant, formerly Nebo, is decorated in exposed brick and subway tile, with big metal light fixtures, aluminum bistro chairs, and leather bar stools. Football airs on flat screens above a racetrack-shaped white marble bar. On a Sunday night, the bar is busy, filled with locals in their 20s and 30s. Wyatt shakes cocktails and strains them into frosted glasses. People are hugging, the men with caps and beards, the women with long brown hair and big scarves shot through with sparkly thread. Guy friends are engaged in serious conversations over big glasses of red wine. Holiday revelers are drinking pisco sours. One man chugs a giant beer while checking his text messages. There’s a guy who looks like Tom Waits reading the menu by the light of a candle, and two women who look like identical twins but appear to be unrelated. “Amazing!” they exclaim at the same time, then look at each other and laugh.

What you’re eating Ward 8 serves comfort food classics such as macaroni and cheese, roast chicken, and a burger, as well as small plates like lamb meatballs, maple-chili duck wings, and steak tacos. Brandade fish sticks with celeriac slaw are a clever riff on a childhood standby.

Care for a drink? You’ll find everything from tiki drinks to flips on the cocktail list, but don’t miss the namesake Ward 8, made with Four Roses bourbon and perfectly balanced.

Overheard Conversations about the Olympics, texting the wrong person by accident, working as a nanny, and good new places to go out. A woman exchanges cheek kisses with a bartender: “You know what a butt cheek is? No, a batchik! It’s a kiss in Armenian.” A group at a long table is conversing solely in exclamations and SMS speak. “Whoa!” “Whew!” “Shut up!” “OMG, I am so ready for this.” “It’s the law of attraction,” one man is explaining to his friends. “Put it out into the world and bring it back.” A woman is telling her friend about a recent dinner party. “She got completely wasted and was like, ‘Who believes in God?’” “Tell your family I say hello,” a staffer says to a departing customer. A group of people is heading out, and a newly made friend at the bar bids them goodbye: “It was very nice meeting you. We will be here next week if you are around.”

90 North Washington St., North End, Boston. 617-823-4478. www.ward8.com.

Devra First can be reached at devra.first@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter@devrafirst.

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