You'd think a seaport city like Boston would be overflowing with excellent seafood restaurants. But aside from some notable icons (here's looking at you Neptune Oyster) and a handful of future legends (cheers to SELECT Oyster Bar), the pickings are slimmer than you might expect. But over the last six months we've seen a slew of top-tier seafood-focused restaurants opening in town. It's a wave we welcome with open arms — and here are a few newcomers you should surf to soon.
In July, star chef Jody Adams opened this Mediterranean seafood-focused beauty in the heart of Back Bay. The sleek and sophisticated blue-hued dining room and ample patio are the setting for simply but smartly prepared catch: from squid ink bucatini topped with crispy squid to lobster raviolo with English peas in a sea urchin sauce. You'll also find an extensive selection of crudo, like thin-sliced scrup (pictured above) accompanied by a charred leek, lemon relish and piri piri, an aromatic hot pepper sauce. Keep an eye out for the roving cocktail cart, which delivers creative tipples prepared tableside.
1 Ring Rd.; 617-536-1234
Courtesy of Joel Benjamin/The Hourly Oyster House
The Hourly Oyster House
Late September saw the arrival of The Hourly in Harvard Square, a new entry from the Grafton Group, which runs several other restaurants in that 'hood: Grafton Street Pub & Grill, Temple Bar, Russell House Tavern and PARK Restaurant & Bar. This new seafood-oriented entry has a huge raw bar that rocks seafood towers loaded with eight varieties of oysters, and chef Taryn Bonnefoi casts a wide net, covering clams casino, curried mussels and charred octopus with squid ink rice chips. There's also a section of the menu devoted to different twists on lobster, served in baked, stuffed, spaghetti and pie iterations, among others.
15 Dunster St., Cambridge; 617-765-2342
Courtesy of Galdones Photography/Waypoint
In August, Alden & Harlow chef-owner Michael Scelfo debuted his highly anticipated follow-up: Waypoint, focusing on creative coastal cuisine that is, obviously, all about seafood. You'll find everything from a glorious raw bar with smoked and salted peel-and-eat shrimp to classic caviar service coupled with unique accompaniments of plankton-white corn blini and fried donut holes. Pizzas are topped with chopped clams and shareable feasts include a whole branzino (pictured) with radish, corn and tomato. While you're there, check out the 20-variety absinthe program, a list more extensive than any other around town.
1030 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; 617-864-2300
Courtesy of Brian Samuels Photography/haley.henry
Tinned seafood is a trend now reaching Boston, and this downtown wine bar opened over the summer is a fantastic place to start. Owner Haley Fortier, alum of Barbara Lynch's Sportello, curates a collection of imported tinned seafood — from BBQ mussels to smoked eel in silky olive oil — that, like a seafood take on charcuterie, are made for spreading on fresh breads or housemade potato chips. Chef Carolina Curtin, a Menton vet, also pulls together a smart selection of small plates, including sea trout with cultured butter and radish on toast and tuna crudo with dashi and cranberry.
45 Province St.; 617-208-6000
Also focusing on a tinned seafood program is this newcomer from Kathy Sidell, the restaurateur behind the Metropolitan restaurants (which includes Saltie's neighbor, MET Back Bay). Like haley.henry, it's an intimate wine bar — less than 30 seats, most of them at a plateau-assembling raw bar that runs the length of the space. And though the tinned selections are emphasized, chef Kyle McClelland tackles fin fare in all its forms: from raw (think tuna carpaccio crudo with pickled hon-shimeji mushroom) to deep-fried lobster and waffles, slathered in sweet corn butter and a spicy maple syrup.
281 Dartmouth St.; 617-267-0691
Courtesy of Il Molo
This North End newcomer opened over the summer as the first joint father-son venture from Donato Frattaroli senior (the patriarch behind Lucia and Artu) and junior. Il Molo, which means "the pier" in Italian, has a contemporary, under-the-sea-inspired interior that is home to a wide variety of seafood: small and large shellfish plateaus loaded with shrimp cocktail, clams and crab claws, seafood stews and pastas, and notions like prawns à la plancha (pictured), loaded with chile and garlic.
326 Commercial St.; 857-277-1895
Brand-new to the South End is this chic, coastal Italian-focused destination from a small team of vets from Barbara Lynch's empire. Chef Colin Lynch looks to "coastal Italian" cuisine, and that inevitably means bright and flavorful seafood is a major priority. Expect skate wing with green garlic, grilled octopus with salsa verde and an extensive crudo selection that includes sea urchin (pictured) topped with a salad of chiles and pickled peppers.
360 Harrison Ave.; 617-530-1770
Creole-style Southern seafood boils are the main attraction at this Allston joint, which debuted in February. The build-your-own approach is easy: Choose a seafood, from crab to crawfish to shrimp, then a sauce — maybe garlic-butter or lemon-pepper. Finally, set your desired level of spiciness from a four-tier selection, and get a shook-up bag of seafood that'll transport your taste buds to a balmy bayou worlds from Boston.
1098 Commonwealth Ave.; 617-487-5957