There are some restaurants that we feature mainly for their food, others that we feature mainly for their atmosphere, and still others that we feature mainly for their location. And then there are those that are pretty strong in all three departments. Take 88 Wharf, for instance; this upscale restaurant in Milton Village serves dependable Italian and New American fare in an elegant, attractive space, and it also happens to be in a beautiful location along a river, which is a definite rarity among Boston-area restaurants. And because it is in such a hidden location, few dining spots can beat that satisfying sense of discovery that comes with a place truly off the beaten path such as 88 Wharf.
Situated on the ground floor of a condominium development in Milton Landing, 88 Wharf is easy to miss, since the development is located on what basically amounts to a dead-end road that drops sharply from the main drag in Milton Village. And even from the parking lots around the building itself, it is still difficult to see that a restaurant actually exists in this space, since the signage for 88 Wharf does not stand out all that much. But the restaurant actually resides in a fairly spacious spot, with a sleek (and sometimes noisy) bar to the left, a relatively serene and cozy dining room with candlelit tables and lots of dark woods to the right, and a good-sized outdoor patio overlooking the river to the right of the dining room.
As mentioned earlier, 88 Wharf now leans toward Italian and New American fare, switching over awhile back from a mostly New American menu. The always-changing menu is quite varied, with salads (the frisee, watercress and beet salad with goat cheese and walnuts is outstanding), appetizers (including both familiar items--steamed mussels, fried calamari--and less familiar items--chopped chicken liver bruschetta), small bites (the tender cut-with-a-fork meatballs braised in a rich red wine sauce are delicious when available), a garlicky eggplant dip with pita bread, and gourmet pizza (including a wonderfully earthy and nutty white pizza with wild mushrooms and fontina cheese). The main entrees range from pasta to gastropub-style items to inventive dinners, with such dishes (again, depending on the season) as a buttery orecchiette and spicy sausage with garlic, broccoli, and fresh parmesan, a semolina dusted sole that comes with crispy cauliflower, meyer lemon, and baby spinach, a grilled pork chop with shallot and chestnut bread pudding, fish tacos that contain blackened haddock, and a juicy and nicely-charred burger with various options for toppings. And for steak lovers, well, they will probably be happy with the Brandt Farms flat iron that comes with potatoes colcannon (Irish-style mashed potatoes) and a classic French bordelaise sauce. The updated dessert menu has some great options, including chocolate beignets that are both extremely tasty and extremely filling--you will want to make sure that you save a good amount of room for these. The drinks list at 88 Wharf is always changing as well, with a number of craft beers on hand along with some classic cocktails (the Ginger Grant Lux Fashion, and Brown Derby are all worth getting).
88 Wharf is a solid dining spot made a bit more special not only by its new menu, but also by its truly unforgettable location along a river that is in of itself a bit of a hidden gem. If food is your sole priority, this restaurant near the Milton/Dorchester will probably put a smile on your face on that alone, and for an overall package of food, atmosphere, and location, 88 Wharf is indeed very tough to beat.
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