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Seafood is special at Legal Oysteria

Grilled oyster at Legal Oysteria in Charlestown. Lane Turner/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Whole roasted fish with potatoes, tomatoes, and olives prepared for roasting in the new Legal Oysteria's wood fired oven. Barry Chin/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Where to Legal Oysteria, a casual Italian seafood restaurant from the Legal Sea Foods team, located in Charlestown’s old Olives space. “Oysteria” is a play on “oyster” and osteria.

What for Seafood: raw or roasted, atop pasta or pizza.

The scene Happy hour for neighborhood sophisticates: Prada bags slung over sunburnt shoulders, glistening wine glasses clutched in manicured hands, big diamonds and bald heads glinting in the fading sunlight. One side of the dining room offers high-top seating; the other side has lower tables next to long windows overlooking busy City Square. A marble island bar, populated mainly by women, anchors the space. The soundtrack is a cross between rave and Roche Bros.


What you’re eating Simple seafood with an Italian spin. (Chef Rich Vellante is an Italian citizen.) There’s fried calamari, small plates of salt cod crostini and raw oysters, linguini and clams, and heartier fare like Ligurian fish stew, pan-roasted salmon, and grilled stuffed trout. Pizza (thin, pleasantly chewy) comes from a refurbished brick oven used at Todd English’s Olives. Yes, there is New England clam chowder.

Care for a drink? Jovial bartenders are happy to discuss the Mediterranean wine list, with 32 by-the-glass options. Signature cocktails are light and bubbly: A Columba mixes tequila with fresh lime, Campari, and grapefruit soda. Tamer imbibers might request Bud Light or Harpoon IPA.

Overheard Domestic discussions, Berkowitz sightings, trips to St. Louis. A salt-and-pepper couple stabs at oysters. “I only met him when he was divorced. His son is like ours,” the husband tells his wife. She rolls her eyes. Legal CEO Roger Berkowitz walks the dining room. “There he is! That’s the man!” a mini-skirted waitress cries. Two older ladies propped side-by-side pull mussels from the shell. “This used to be an Olives, you know,” one informs the other. A redheaded man encumbered by a messenger bag paces near the host stand. “I thought you weren’t coming!” he cries when his date rushes in. Men in tan suits hover by the pass. “Have you crossed your I’s and dotted your T’s?” a runner demands. “Calm down, hon, I was being facetious!” she cackles a moment later. A young blonde scoots closer to a single man sipping beer. He scoots away. “There is a silver lining in all this, but I’m still going to St. Louis,” a muscular man sighs into his cellphone as he heads toward the door.


10 City Square, Charlestown. 617-712-1988. www.legaloysteria.com

More coverage:

- With Oysteria, Legal goes Italian route

- In new ads, Legal owner sneers at the ‘chain’ label

- Legal Sea Foods debuts neighborhood concept

Kara Baskin can be reached at kcbaskin@gmail.com.