Where to Il Molo, a new seafood-focused restaurant with an Italian accent in the North End. (“Il Molo” means “The Pier” in Italian.)
What for The kitchen is helmed by talented chef Pino Maffeo, who has worked locally at the likes of Sage, Restaurant L, and Lucia Ristorante in Winchester. (Thematic congruence be damned. Can we get back the great Laotian ribs from the Restaurant L days?)
The scene Subterranean coastal. You walk down a flight of stairs into a meandering space of white and Mediterranean blues. Does it feel oddly familiar? Are you a fan of food-based reality TV? This was formerly Davide, once the focus of Gordon Ramsay’s disapproval on “Kitchen Nightmares.” There’s a white marble bar, white upholstery, plenty of shimmery tile, octopus-themed art on the walls. Women in sorbet-colored sweaters and men in button-downs sip drinks at the bar; at high-tops and tucked into banquettes lining the walls, bromantics inhale oysters and pasta. Couples sip bubbly in armchairs beside the fireplace.
What you’re eating Raw bar — shellfish towers, East Coast and West Coast oysters, crudo of the day. Appetizers of charred octopus tendrils, prawns a la plancha, and mussels. Lobster fra diavolo and house-made tagliatelle Bolognese. Cod with clams and chorizo, hay-roasted salmon, veal chop Oscar, a nod to the meat lovers. A few simple desserts — lemon curd, a chocolate concoction, just enough to satisfy the sweet tooth.
Care for a drink? Along with beer and Italian wine, there’s a short list of house cocktails — the Il Molo negroni; the Rose Kennedy cooler, with gin, sherry, pear, and Earl Grey syrup; a few kinds of punch.
Overheard Talk of the North End, Italian travel, seafood obsessions, and reservations. “What does the chef do to this octopus?” a dapper gent inquires. “It’s so tender!” His companion smiles: “I don’t want to eat octopus anymore because they’re so smart, but I just can’t help myself.” A server enthuses, “Get the cod. It’s just so good. It’s my favorite.” A patron enters with a low whistle. “This is no Davide! It looks completely different,” he says. Over at the bar, a woman chortles: “It’s like that time I went to Capri, except without what’s-his-name, thank God.”
326 Commercial St., North End, Boston, 857-277-1895, www.ilmoloboston.com.Devra First can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.