5 East Blvd., Wareham
Hours: Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday, 5 -10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m.–12 midnight. Hours will expand to midnight on all days of operation, come summer.
Major credit cards accepted
Take-out and functions offered
Acoustic entertainment weekends
Tucked into a corner of Onset Bay, this little jewel could easily be passed by, due to its unassuming boxy exterior and somewhat cramped location at the entry to a marina parking lot.
But Stonebridge Bistro offers some satisfying dishes and wonderful bay views to those who notice it and stop.
The 75-seat restaurant is open year-round and — judging by the heavy traffic on its Facebook page — enjoys a healthy following of enthusiastic locals to sustain it through the winter months. Once warm weather hits, tourists flood this section of town, providing the bistro with plenty of prospective patrons.
Stonebridge’s interior is mostly casual. Its bright green and blue painted walls, interrupted by plenty of glass to enjoy outdoor views, are adorned with fishing gear and whimsical carvings of sea captains, anglers, and fish. Dressing it up a bit are cloth-covered tables and a long bar constructed of rich, dark wood.
Over the winter, owner Justin Hadley doubled the size of the bar, which now runs the entire length of the restaurant’s inside wall, and he has secured a full liquor license to replace a license that limited sales to wine and beer.
We were the sole diners one chilly night last month, although plenty of locals chatted at the bar. With only one server to oversee both bar and dining area, it took a while to put in our order for appetizers, although, in the end, they proved to be the highlights of the evening.
The bruschetta ($8.50) was the favorite, offering three hefty slices of tasty Ciabatta bread, crisp and lightly grilled, piled high with feta cheese, diced tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and a few slices of gently sautéed Bermuda onion. A light sprinkling of fresh basil served to complement rather than dominate the flavorful mix.
We also devoured our spinach salad ($6.75), with its tiny, mild-tasting leaves, sweet goat cheese and dried cranberries, topped with a light cranberry vinaigrette.
Appetizers range from a cup of clam chowder and house salad to pan-roasted mussels, shrimp cocktail and calamari, priced from $4.50 to $10. Adding some meat or fish to a Caesar salad boosts the cost a few dollars.
The restaurant’s main menu offers a solid selection of seafood, beef and chicken, with entrees averaging around $19. It also features a page-long list of 10-inch pizzas, priced from $9 to $11.50.
Intrigued by the Pilgrim Feast ($16) — a dish consisting of grilled chicken, apple slices and baby spinach, with a cranberry walnut sauce over butternut squash ravioli — we learned it was one of the restaurant’s most popular selections, initially limited to the winter menu but now available year-round. The squash ravioli were tasty, the chicken tender, and the apples crisp. Unfortunately, the sauce was quite heavy and dominated the dish.
Pizzas boast hand-tossed crust and the restaurant’s homemade Italian sauce. The pepper pizza ($10.50) we ordered featured the same hint-of-the-grill flavor to its thin crust that the bruschetta had. The pie, topped with slices of sweet, red pepper and crisp Bermuda onion, vanished quickly.
Our final entrée was the panko flounder ($15.75): two large slices of fish rolled in spices, pan-fried and served with a chipotle sauce. Our diner was happy with the offering, saying the moist fish had a nice, spicy bite. The green beans offered just the right amount of crunch, and the texture of the “Princess Di hat” of rice was fluffy.
For dessert, we settled on the cannoli ($6.75) and vanilla crème brulee ($6). Both had great taste, but looked a little naked when they arrived, lacking the decorative swirls of chocolate, mint leaves, sliced strawberries and other garnishes that really boost aesthetic appeal. The dessert menu features pies, cake, ice cream sundaes and even a chocolate fondue for a party of up to four. Prices ranged from $5 to $7, and up to $14 for the fondue.
The biggest drawback of this bayside restaurant is its lack of outdoor seating. Hadley recently tried to get a deck approved by the town, but withdrew the proposal due to neighborhood concerns. Luckily, plenty of window views allow patrons to enjoy the on-the-bay atmosphere while sampling the bistro’s ample portions of flavorful offerings.