WHO’S IN CHARGE Victor Molle, owner and operator of The Marina Restaurant & Bar at The Wharf in Revere, recalled when it was a 50-seat barroom with a light menu. It was 1977 and he was the bartender.
More than 30 years later, The Marina seats 260 people, has an extensive menu, and requires more than bartending skills to get through the night. Fortunately, Molle (pronounced mole-lay) is now a seasoned restaurateur and gets help from his wife, his son, and his two daughters,.
He learned the business from his stepfather, Arthur “Archie” Nigro, who opened North Shore Marine on the Pine River in 1954 and, more than 10 years later, added Archie’s, a takeout joint where Molle slung burgers.
Whatever money his stepfather made, he invested back into the business. “He did it all,” recalls Molle, who grew up in Revere and lives in Peabody. Nigro converted Archie’s into The Wharf. In 1986, the outdoor deck overlooking the marina and a 100-seat dining room, dubbed the Big Room, were added.
In 2004 Nigro and Molle leased the restaurant to other operators. Things went well for a while until, in 2011, Molle lost his father and the restaurant closed under a lessor. Molle revived the business and reopened in October 2013; months later he renamed the place The Marina Restaurant & Bar at The Wharf. “We kept The Wharf in there because of nostalgia,” Molle said.
THE LOCALE With its outdoor deck, The Marina makes for ideal al fresco dining in the summer. Boats moored in their slips create a “we’re not in Revere anymore” impression.
Inside, however, there are plenty of options for winter. We settled in the lounge, the original barroom building, where 20 stools line the bar and the TVs show sports and news. Two women nursed martinis at one table. The Big Room, meant for finer dining, was abuzz with a high school reunion and other diners. Live music and DJ entertainment is par for the course, so be prepared to dance.
Our server was slow in coming around (it’s busy, after all), but when she did she was apologetic, friendly, and helpful. The bartender pitched in to bring us our drinks.
ON THE MENU “I don’t say we’re an Italian restaurant, but we have Italian flair,” said Molle.
The menu lists American-Italian items such as meatballs, pasta, and chicken Parmigiano. The nachos use Bolognaise instead of salsa. But there is also lobster, fried seafood, burgers, steaks, and specials such fish tacos.
We shared the mussels ($12), which were steeped in a predictable garlic and tomato broth. The shrimp risotto, however, was nicely al dente and the pan-seared scallops decent ($24). The family-style salad that comes with the meal was outstanding and the warm bread added to the hospitality and the details that make this place popular.
A Sunday brunch buffet features savory and sweet breakfast items, an omelet and carving station, pastries, salads, and fruit.
The Marina serves lunch and dinner daily and Sunday brunch.
The Marina Restaurant & Bar at The Wharf, 543 North Shore Road, Revere, 781-629-3798; www.marinaatthewharf.com.Naomi Kooker can be reached at email@example.com.