HALIFAX — Lots of eateries describe themselves as “family restaurants,” but Grille 58 is the real thing.
Dave Hatch and Debra Trotta opened the restaurant four years ago in Shelby Plaza, and within six months doubled their space to accommodate a growing and loyal clientele. You’ll find at least one of the owners on site nearly every day of the week. Three of the couple’s children work at the restaurant. And desserts come direct from Trotta’s home kitchen.
The dining room is simple but comfortable, with lots of natural light and a stone fireplace Trotta built by hand. Though the restaurant was full when we visited on a Sunday evening, conversation was easy, thanks to acoustical ceiling tiles.
We wondered about the flat-screen televisions at the booths around the perimeter of the dining room. Trotta said later that they’re popular with sports fans during a critical game and with families looking to settle down fidgety children.
When we asked our waitress what the restaurant was famous for, she replied emphatically, “Seafood. Fresh every day.”
We were eager to try Grille 58’s fried fare, but none of us wanted to make a meal of fried food. So we started with the 58 Combo appetizer ($10), a sampling of buffalo chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks, and homemade onion rings. The chicken pieces were large and meaty, with just a little kick.
Hand-cut onion rings were excellent, encased in a light, flaky batter and virtually grease-free. This dish came with a smooth blue cheese dressing and a rich, robust marinara. A cup of fish chowder ($4) had big chunks of haddock blended with cream and chopped clams, which gave it more of a clam chowder taste.
Seafood Provençal ($15) was a generous serving of sea scallops and shrimp over pasta or rice with capers, roasted tomato, roasted garlic, and baby spinach in a lemon beurre blanc that was sweet but not as lemony as I would have liked.
One diner chose a baked seafood medley with shrimp, scallops, and haddock ($16), substituting panko for the seafood stuffing; she found the fish sweet and fresh and appreciated the opportunity to keep the dish light. It was accompanied by tangy and not overdressed cole slaw and good garlic mashed potato. (Trotta said later that everything is made to order and the kitchen has no problem with substitutions for special diets.)
Another diner made a meal of a Caesar salad ($6) and an appetizer of mussels bianco ($10). The tender mussels, more than she could finish as an entree, let alone an appetizer, were swimming in a buttery, garlicky broth.
While we were happy to focus on seafood, the menu also includes chicken and veal, steak, and pizza. The restaurant also serves lunch; “mini-meals” Monday-Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. with soup or salad, entree, and dessert for $10; and breakfast on Sunday mornings.
Like many of the diners around us, we packaged up our leftovers, saving room for Trotta’s homemade desserts. Mile-high chocolate cake ($6) was one of the richest and best versions of this treat that we have had — so moist it didn’t even need the ice cream and whipped cream that came alongside it. It would feed two generously.
Homemade gingerbread, also an oversized portion, was moist and aromatic.
Service was welcoming and friendly. Even when we began the evening by overturning a glass of red wine, no one got flustered. And when we asked for recommendations, our waitress made them, which we appreciated.
While there are few culinary surprises at Grille 58, there’s lots of good food in generous portions at reasonable prices — just what most folks are looking for in a family restaurant.Ellen Albanese can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.