There’s nothing like sitting at the dock of the bay, watching the tide roll away, especially with a frosty cocktail and a raw-oyster platter. For staycationers, al fresco diners, waterfront enthusiasts, and sailors/wannabes, the sweet little restaurant at the edge of the Charlestown Navy Yard is a swank little 70-seater, with outdoor and indoor informal dining and drinks at the outdoor bar.
Pier 6 celebrates its year anniversary, and it’s already a welcome neighborhood favorite. Perched atop a pier currently awaiting renovation, the spot isn’t teeming with boat traffic, which means plenty of parking. It’s tucked far enough away from the road and nearby Tobin Bridge, which means quiet dining. For visitors, it’s only a short walk from the USS Constitution.
The former Tavern on the Water received a full makeover, but still resembles a large boat, including the two galley kitchens that ensure the food will be fresh since there’s no room for storage. The newly renovated space features many subtle nautical elements, three levels of dining including a gorgeous roof deck, a private dining room that resembles someone’s homey living room, a mahogany bar with rope-wrapped pillars, and floor to ceiling glass sliding doors with stunning waterfront views. “It was pretty run down when we bought it,” said co-owner Salvatore Boscarino. “It took seven months of renovations.”
The patrons are a nice mix of young professionals and older area residents. The servers are friendly and like to chat about the menu, which is a mix of upscale and comfort food; it doesn’t scream “seafood restaurant,” but rather is more of a gastropub on the water. That would also be the influence of Boscarino, who also manages Stoddards Fine Food and Ale, and Executive chef Adriano Silva, from B&G Oysters, where he was sous chef. Another owner is also with Mija Cantina & Tequila Bar in Faneuil Hall, so perhaps we’ll see some additions to the tequila and Tex Mex offerings in the future?
The current menu offers organic local produce, and meat from Savenor’s, which provides a special blend for Pier 6’s popular juicy bacon and cheddar burgers, along with pork ribs, steak, and other faves.
Other local touches are a long list of whiskeys, including from South Boston, and local drafts including Wachusett, Whale's Tale, Sea Dog, and Charlestown's DownEast Cider. Cocktails are spunky, with ingredients such as sriracha, maple syrup, blue-cheese olives, and frozen cocktails for the summer. But it was a treat to start off our night with a bucket of champagne with fresh purees of strawberry and peach to make our own Bellinis.
The deck menu is a streamlined version of the main menu, and available whenever the deck is open, usually Wednesday through Sunday unless it’s rented out for a party, like when we were there. The deck menu includes a choice of oysters, accompanied by cava mignonette and cocktail sauce, hailing from Wellfleet, Duxbury, and PEI ($2.75 each). The Shellfish Platter includes lobster tail, oysters, and shrimp in house-made ceviche ($45/$85).
We paired some briny Conway Royale oysters with ripe heirloom organic tomatoes, from Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon, in a salad ($9) with feta, basil, and balsamic vinaigrette.
Other items of note on the Deck menu include Tuna Tartare with chimichurri and tortilla chips ($13) and a cheese plate with spicy pistachio and raspberry jam ($12). Other popular items on the Deck menu is the tail-and-claw lobster roll ($24), and some sandwiches.
On the regular menu, there’s no clam chowder on the menu, but there is the lobster chowder ($12) with manzanilla sherry, melted leeks, sweet potato, and bacon, although it reminded us of a mild Manhattan lobster chowder. The lightly fried and pillowy Maine Crab Cakes ($11) was made with the sweet local crab, and served with shaved asparagus & carrot salad, with a side of fresh herb aioli.
Big dishes include the Sea Scallops, ($29) which were tender pan-seared with chantarelle mushrooms, in a soy glaze, served with carrot-cumin puree, fresh garden peas, pea greens, pine nut, and golden raisin brown butter. Also recommended was the swordfish, which comes with a nice mint yogurt.
For the meat eaters, pork ribs ($11) with hoisin barbecue sauce come with green papaya slaw, Another popular item, the amazing Sweet ’n’ Sticky Wings ($10) would be great for kids, too, full of flavor and great with beer. The Pier 6 Burger ($13) got an honorable mention at a recent burger competition, not bad for its first outing. Served atop a buttered and grilled bun, it comes with Vermont cheddar, and bacon, house pickles, and fries or red cabbage slaw.
Don’t forget to make room for the house-made desserts, specifically the creamy butterscotch pudding with candied walnuts ($7) and the ice cream sandwich — Madagascar bourbon vanilla, raspberry compote, chocolate chip cookie ($7). The Banana Split ($8) is dark chocolate sea salt gelato with walnuts and caramel chocolate syrup; the Cinnamon Cheesecake ($8) comes with berries and mango sorbet in a light chocolate cookie crust, and the house gelato ice cream comes with a caramel drizzle.
The lunch crowd from nearby MGH, sailors and tourists also gets such dishes as Point Judith Calamari ($11) with Old Bay Seasoning, and Tabasco aioli; grilled fish tacos ($11) with grilled tomato salsa and spicy aioli; stuffed peppers with corn, zucchini and arugula risotto ($17); fried Ipswich clam roll ($15); and hangar steak skewers ($18) with grilled corn, baby spinach, bleu cheese butter.
Sunday Brunch (Saturday and Sunday, 11am-3:30pm) includes eggs Benedict with smoked salmon and home fries ($12); braised duck hash with sunny side up eggs, Fresno chili, sweet potato ($13); mushroom and goat cheese omelet ($11); skirt steak and poached eggs with béarnaise ($19); and banana rum French toast with whipped cream ($10).
“People view it as a seasonal place. We get a good crowd in the summer,” said Boscarino. “Neighbors come here twice a week, so we need to have variety, so they don’t get bored.” Beet salad and clams will be back in the fall, he promises. They offer the occasional clambake, and they are also considering future crawfish boils.
1 8th Street, Charlestown