Friday, August 12, 2011

Anthony's Pier 4

A historical splurge worthy seafood institution that has long capitalized on Boston's prime waterfront views is Anthony's Pier 4. The original owner, Anthony Athanas, immigrated to the United States from Albania with his parents in 1916 at the age five. Dedicated and hardworking, Athanas rose the ranks to eventually personify the American Dream, opening a number of successful restaurants before his flagship Boston establishment came to fruition in 1963.Immediate success and praise was followed by years of hosting the likes of US Presidents, Government heads, athletes, entertainers and more; as displayed proudly by a collage of photographs covering the walls in the large entrance way. Athanas passed away in 2005 and today the restaurant is owned and operated by his four sons.Considering the fact that the South Boston Waterfront is now home to a number of modern restaurants and chains, including big name franchises or local expansions, I think it is important to embrace the history associated with Anthony's and the success it has seen in this area for decades. For all the more recent additions to Fan Pier and Liberty Wharf that have been met with tremendous praise, Anthony's deserves an equal dose of my affections. The decor embodies a time in history where Rum Rooms existed, their very own displaying weathered furniture and dusty floors. The expansive dining room is filled with Captain's chairs crafted of sturdy wood and leather and an expanse of thick patterned carpet still remains underfoot.An open air lobster tank greets you upon arrival and the bar is crafted to form the likes of old schooner. Anthony's certainly has a distinguished look and feel whether it translates as older generation elegance or nautical kitsch. I think that it is a welcome combination of both.And lets not forget the panoramic harbor front views. No matter the buildings atmosphere, the views remain timeless.Adam and I started off with a round of draft beers, reasonably priced and poured in appropriately labeled pint glasses (I love when restaurants pay attention to these small details) a Harpoon IPA ($4.95) for him and a Sam Summer ($4.95) for her.
A basket of fresh Popovers and slabs of soft butter were delivered right after we placed our orders. Breaking into the hollow muffin shaped roll, the swelled batter in addition to releasing piping hot steam, was light, eggy and moist on the inside and delicately crunchy on the outside. Popovers are certainly a highlight of the experience here.
We continued our lunch with 1/2 dozen Oysters ($14.95). This day just so happened to be National Oyster Day so was it fitting to enjoy a freshly shucked batch of bivalves. However, I would have been slurping these down regardless of the declared "food holiday".
Our platter consisted of three Norwalk Bluepoint Oysters from Long Island Sound, Connecticut and three Penn Cove Oysters from Samish Bay, Puget Sound, Washington. Adam preferred the Penn Cove which were firmer with a bright brininess and cucumber finish. I liked the Norwalk Bluepoint best, they had a moderate saltiness with a sweet gentle finish.
If last Friday wasn't the epitome of the perfect summer lunch, I don't know what is.Behold the beauty that is my bucket of Ipswich Fried Clams ($19.95). Once I saw this special listed on the chalk board just outside the dining room entrance, I was pretty much sold.
Batter dipped and deep fried, this iconic New England delicacy is prepared with whole soft shell clams, the bellies left intact to impart a richer flavor. Anthony's served an impeccable, large proportioned batch alongside thick and tangy tartar sauce, lightly dressed coleslaw and your standard cut french fries. Unfortunately, the fries were lackluster. Adam said they were great as he chowed down on the portion that came with his Lobster Roll ($19.95), but I felt they were too soft, lots of potato and not enough fry. By the way, he loved his lobster roll. I commented that it looked heavy on the mayo but he was quick to correct that this was not the case. Those were some extremely large chunks of fresh claw meat. (And the camera lens became foggy as I reached across to get that shot - from the steam rising off my clams!)Service was smooth and well paced. Our waiter, dressed head to toe in a pressed sailors uniform was friendly and efficient. All the details were attended to without us having to ask. Waters were refilled and plates were cleared promptly. 
Lunch today was mostly comped, the company responsible for Anthony's website development hooked me up with a $50 gift card awhile back. I was under no obligation to review the restaurant, however I can't say I would have been persuaded to visit otherwise! (Simply wasn't on my radar.) Adam and I were so glad we did though, especially with the recent announcement of its impending closure.*We enjoyed a leisurely harbor front stroll from the North End and back, stopping afterwards for a visit to the neighboring Institute of Contemporary Art where the free Friday admission (one time only on that day) persuaded us in. But not before a goofy photo shoot with the parking lot locomotive...Yes, all four of these were necessary.
*I read yesterday on Boston Restaurant Talk that Anthony's is closing its doors because the space it occupies is slated for replacement by a one acre public park. There is potential of it re-opening in a nearby location on the property. Construction for the park won't begin until Spring 2012 so it looks like you still have time to visit this Boston landmark before it no longer remains in its original form! For additional details about the construction scheduled to transform the Seaport District's Pier 4 check out this Boston Globe article.*
Anthony's Pier 4 on Urbanspoon

16 comments:

Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

I have a soft spot for this restaurant as this is where my family went to celebrate my law school graduation. I'm sad about this place relocating. :-(

Meghan@travelwinedine said...

Looks like the perfect summer lunch! Eric actually went there with his family and had horrible service, so he refuses to go there! We will have to make a date before it closes!

MelissaNibbles said...

I'm so sad it's closing!!! I need to go. I love their fried clams.

In and Around Town said...

Sounds like you guys had such a great time! I think I will have to head over and check it out before it closes considering it is such a landmark! Although - popovers alone would be enough to get me through the doors

Lindsey @ BeantownEats said...

I recently found out that my parents used to drive in to the city each year to go to here for their anniversary. I haven't been, but sounds like I'll have to try it before it closes!

Amber Blue Bird said...

The decor is charming. Definitely looks like a cozy place to eat a meal plus I love that they use the fancy sam glasses. I bought my husband those glasses and he swears by them.

this free bird said...

Oh good grief bring it on. There's a string of restaurants in WA state also bearing the "Anthony's" name--suffice it to say when I moved out of state they put up missing signs.

xo,
C

Megan said...

I've never been, but Jeff used to go when he was a kid. He remembers the popovers.

Love the photo shoot - so necessary!

Elizabeth said...

Gorgeous views! And I love that they give you popovers. Can I go just for some popovers and cole slaw? ;)

Joanne said...

I walked by Anthony's a few times when I lived in Boston but never went in! Too bad cause the food looks so tasty!

agonyaw said...

i'm ashamed to say i still haven't been to anthony's, but your post has convinced me that it should move up the list quickly... one, because of the closing and two, because you made everything look and sound so delish.

Kerstin said...

I'd probably get the fried clams too - what yummy eats! Hopefully they'll be able to relocate.

Simply Life said...

I might have to visit there just for those popovers!

5 Star Foodie said...

A nice lunch, the popovers look especially good.

Emily @ A Cambridge Story said...

I've always wondered about this place! Definitely seems quintessentially New England. It's so fun you and Adam can enjoy the summer lunch series together!

Ameena said...

Guess what? I've actually been to this restaurant! It was on a Boston trip I took right after I got engaged, about 100 years ago - we had Easter lunch at Anthony's and it was really beautiful! I think I had shrimp? It's been a while...but the popovers do look divine!