Food & dining
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    Quick Bite

    History on the half-shell at North Square Oyster

    Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

    Where to North Square Oyster, the latest in tiny North End seafood restaurants.

    What for A Neptune Oyster alternative with cheeky touches, as conceived by chef Douglas Rodrigues (Clio, Liquid Art House).

    The scene History on the half-shell. North Square Oyster is located in the same cobbled corner of the North End as Mamma Maria, a part of the neighborhood that just makes you say “Damn, this city is charming” every time you stroll through. The space is tiled and bright, simply furnished with round marble tables and wooden chairs. Friends slurp oysters with many kinds of mignonette; a group of women strolls through the dining room and into an adjoining bar. There’s a staircase to . . . ? “Not yet,” a staffer says, smiling, as she steers an ascending wanderer back toward a ground-floor table.

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    What you’re eating Oysters, of course, mostly regional. Inventive crudo dishes, such as salmon with rhubarb, Chinese mustard, and cedar crisp, or hamachi with cherry red curry, lime leaf, and caviar nori coulis. There’s chowder in a bread bowl, except the bread is kombucha sourdough that’s made in house. There’s a cold mayo lobster roll and a hot brown-butter one, both $29, as well as a burger. Larger plates might be halibut with spring vegetables; rigatoni with oxtail Bolognese, lobster, and parsnips; or prime steak tips. Dessert is unexpectedly creative: Pork belly cotton candy with black lime, Chartreuse jelly, and raspberry sorbet, anyone?

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    Care for a drink? Owner Nicholas Frattaroli is also behind the cocktail-focused Ward 8, and Ward 8’s Mike Wyatt oversees the bar program here, too. That means a few original cocktails, like the Midnight Ride (bourbon, chai-spiced grenadine, and bitters), plus martini service. There’s wine and local beer, too.

    Overheard Two friends share a bread bowl of chowder and a lobster roll. “Look at us,” one says. “You’d never guess we actually live here.” An incoming patron waves and nods at a two-top, as if to say, “Of course we’re all here, trying out the new place.” “I’m just going to get one oyster,” a woman says. “It’s silly, but I really want to try that mignonette!” “I think everyone here is a food writer,” says one customer to another, looking around suspiciously. (Not wrong.) A man rushes in, wind-blown: “I’m so sorry I’m late! I was at the other new seafood place down the block!”

    5 North Square, North End, Boston, 857-991-1930,
    www.northsquareoyster.com

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