BOSTON – Located in the North End just across from the piers that stretch into Boston Harbor, Il Molo is a stylish spot for superior seafood, utilizing the tremendous product plucked from the waters just outside.
This subterranean space is the brainchild of seasoned restauranteur Donato Frataroli, who created a sophisticated space with different dining areas depending upon what you are up for that evening. You can belly up to their lively marble bar, or tuck yourself away in one of their cozy dining rooms for an intimate evening with friends.
“It can almost be anything you want it to be. It can be casual. It can be something for a special occasion. You’ll never be too underdressed or too overdressed. It sort of just hits every scenario,” Donato explained.
When he wanted the menu to be as versatile as the space, Donato brought on industry veteran and culinary dynamo, Chef Pino Maffeo. He handcrafts everything from fresh crudo, which changes from day to day, to good old New England style clam chowder.
“It’s crunchy from fried clams on top, so you get two different textures. It’s smoky with homemade bacon. So you kind of get all these flavors all together,” Chef Pino said.
Other seafood starters include crunchy fried clams served with house made tarter; artfully presented Oysters Rockefeller laid over a bed of salt; and the tremendously tasty Prawns a la Plancha. The satisfying shrimp are marinated in garlic, chills and chorizo oil. They are as delicious as they are messy.
“You have to get your hands dirty to eat it right,” Donato insisted. “There’s few things that we really eat with our hands anymore, and this is one of those dishes that’s fun. You get a little messy, but it’s a good eat.”
If you are looking to share, nothing splits better than the duo of hot lobster rolls served on brioche.
“We slowly poach a lobster, and then we add it to a little bit of drawn butter,” Chef Pino began. “We add it to a homemade seasoned mayonnaise, and then we put them in these two brioche buns. Then we put those beautiful nuggets and claws inside, and then we top that off with a little bit of paprika and some scallion.”
The seafood offerings continue throughout the entree section of the menu, with an oversized bowl of Linguine with Clams; a hearty portion of Seafood Stew loaded up with shrimp, clams, scallops, mussels, and crab in a sumptuous saffron broth; and a head turning Stuffed Maine Lobster that truly is a showstopper. However, if you want the owner’s opinion, the only way to go is with the New England Cod Loin.
“The Cod Loin is hands-down my favorite dish on the menu,” Donator said. “It’s a homerun in my opinion.”
“We use chorizo and clams with white beans, a little bit of white wine, fish stock. We serve it with Swiss chard,” Chef Pino described. “It’s kind of all braced together and the cod loin’s roasted on its own. And then it all comes together at the end, and it’s this savory, beautiful, luscious, smoky dish that I can’t get enough of.”
If seafood is not your thing, Il Molo still has you covered with an outstanding Bolognese, but getting this dish on the menu was not a sure thing.
“I was reluctant to put it on the menu at first,” Donato said, since Il Molo is a seafood spot. “It’s chunky carrots, chunky celery, chunky onion, the beef is awesome, mix in a little pork, maybe mix in a little veal that day. It’s wonderful.”
Meat eaters will also marvel over the super tender bone-in filet, a superior cut you do not often find outside of high-end steak houses.
“Steaks on the bone are the most flavorful steaks that you can buy,” Chef Pino stated. “We’ve had people come in many, many times to say, this is probably the best piece of beef I’ve eaten. And that’s a nice comment to have, especially if you consider it’s a seafood restaurant.”
While the seafood is sensational, and the steak and Bolognese are tough to beat, nothing gets these two going like the coconut cake.
“I think, without question is the best Coconut Cake – I’m going to put it out there – on the East Coast. Without question. And that’s saying a lot,” Chef Pino boasted. “It’s soft. It’s luscious. It’s light. You bite into that, it’s unbelievable.”
“Imagine if a coconut had a baby coconut, and you made a cake out of that baby coconut. That’s what that tastes like,” Donato added.
With dishes you will die for and consistently friendly service, it is time you go to Il Molo. You can find it at 326 Commercial Street in Boston’s North End, and online at ilmoloboston.com.
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